KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For The UK
The information on this page was current at the time it was published. Regulations, trends, statistics, and other information are constantly changing. While we strive to update our Knowledge Base, we strongly suggest you use these pages as a general guide and be sure to verify any regulations, statistics, guidelines, or other information that are important to your efforts.
January 31st, 2020 Update: On March 29, 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which formally started the process whereby the UK would leave the European Union. The original plan was for the UK to leave the EU on March 29th, 2019 but on October 28th, 2019, the EU agreed to push the extension deadline to January 31, 2020.
The council agreed to conclude the withdrawal, and it took effect at midnight on January 31st, 2020. After this date, the UK is no longer an EU member state. This will obviously shift how business is done in the UK. We will keep updating this page to reflect these changes.
Learn more about Brexit here.
International PR For The UK
PR in the UK
Before expanding your business into any new market and reaching out to media, there are several things to prepare for. This is especially true for international markets. You’ll want to decide if you’re going to manage your PR efforts from your home country, outsource PR completely, or a hybrid of the two and having some sort of local PR support.
In the UK, journalists typically will want to speak to the CEO or most senior person in charge of international expansion and high-level titles are considered most desirable for interviews and other communications. The press release is still considered an important aspect of professional media communications in the UK. Bloggers don’t mind a well-crafted pitch email but they also use press releases as sources of company information.
The UK is more formal than the United States and traditional press releases and PR processes continue to play an important role with traditional journalists. There is a split between traditional-minded journalists in the UK and the very aggressive paparazzi style journalists with very low boundaries for covering celebrities, royals, and at times high-profile business people. Tabloid journalism is very strong in the UK and many people consume tabloids as their primary news source.
For the most part, best practices for PR are similar country to country but there are some nuances unique to United Kingdom that we’ll share with you.
The PR basics to prepare for well in advance of your first initiatives are:
1. Understand the UK business market
As a foreign company, it’s especially important to recognize that each market will have established competitors already or alternative ways of doing things. Be aware of how your competition is positioned in the market place to see if your product will fit in. Conduct product testing and research to see how your product will be received and what aspects you’ll need to localize well in advance of going into international markets.
2. Understand your prospects
Recognize from the beginning that you have a lot to learn about the people of the UK and that they are very different from people groups you are familiar with. Spend the time to get to know and love the people and their culture, to understand what motivates them, appreciate their values, know which media they consume and messages that resonate, understand their purchase behavior, and have a high-level of respect for different people groups. Getting local assistance from some great PR agencies to support your efforts is a good idea, especially before you’ve established your company. You can find some great PR agencies in the Globig Marketplace. Even if you outsource your PR, make sure your brand is positioned correctly and that you ultimately control your voice and messaging.
It’s also important to understand what is considered newsworthy by the media and to pay attention to the timing of when you’re reaching out. Stay away from holidays (you can see the holiday schedule in the Holidays In The UK section), government events such as elections, and other distractions that make your outreach less important.
3. Prepare your product
If you are localizing your product based on early research, do that in advance of reaching out to prospects and media. Even your product name may need to be localized so it doesn’t offend or mean something inconsistent with your brand. Setting up your product for success at the beginning of a new relationship with the people and media in the United Kingdom is much more effective than having to start again after failing the first time.
4. Identify the desired benefits of using your product
As a product from another country, there must be a clear and highly valued reason for using your product versus established local or foreign brands. If you don’t have clear differentiators and your product differences not are highly valued, it will be very difficult for you to get media or customer attention in the UK.
5. Identify and build relationships with the media players
Many months before going to market, identify and start paying attention to the journalists, bloggers and other media influencers that cover the industry and reach your prospect targets. Follow them on social media, read all of their work, start commenting on their work and try to develop a relationship with them before you reach out for coverage and pitch article ideas. Try to be helpful, be an expert in the industry, and respect how they want to be communicated with.
6. Message clearly articulated benefits, be on strategy and culturally relevant
When you’re ready to communicate and reach out, make sure your outreaches are well timed, specific to each person and what they cover, culturally appropriate, clearly articulated, on-strategy, and always consider if what you’re sharing would be valuable to the journalists, readership, and viewers.
7. Focused effort
Expanding globally requires time and effort. Every country deserves a dedicated and committed approach. People in the UK are open to trying new things if they see the value of the product. They also enjoy brands that make them laugh and entice them via game elements such as contests, sweepstakes, and give-aways. You may not get the media attention you desire until you’ve proven that you’re committed to the UK and have spent some time getting to know the people, the media. Starting out with smaller grass roots efforts is a good approach.
8. Crisis PR
Prepare for a crisis and consider having local support if needed. Communicate immediately, clearly, respectfully, and humanly. With social media, people expect a response within 15 minutes of a crisis and that the message shows that company representatives care. Appropriately timed messages, and transparent communications are important.
9. Non-traditional PR
Because a large part of the population in the UK is focused in cities, it’s easier to test publicity stunts to gain media attention in small to mid-sized cities first and then move into larger markets like London. Another option is to focus your attention in one London neighborhood.
There are some great sites that host a lot of PR and marketing stunts from the UK to varying levels of effectiveness. These can give you ideas about what worked and what did not.
Overall, the key as with all good PR and marketing is to understand your market and follow best practices which probably includes having local support for effective PR.
KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For The UK