KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For The US
INTERNATIONAL PR FOR THE UNITED STATES
Before expanding your business into the United States and reaching out to the local media, there are several things to prepare for. This is especially true when you are moving into new international markets. You will ultimately be deciding if you are going to manage your PR efforts from your home country, outsource PR completely, or use a hybrid of the two while having some sort of local PR support.
The most common PR goal is to enhance a company’s reputation and increase brand awareness and visibility with its target audiences. Any media entity or journalist’s goal is typically to provide information that is relevant, current, thought-provoking, timely, and interesting to their readers and viewers. In order for a company to get media attention, it's important to keep the media entity’s goal in mind. Even though you care about it, they may not, so it’s important to provide them with opportunities to meet their goals.
In the PR world, there are traditional, digital, and non-traditional forms of PR
Traditional PR includes things such as press releases, media pitches, event alerts, and seeking speakerships for events with the hope of getting coverage on TV, radio, print newspaper and magazines, blogs, social media, and events. Some people say that traditional press releases have become less relevant in the US because of the increase in accessibility that bloggers and social media influencers have; however, in more traditional countries such as Germany, traditional PR approaches and traditional media play a significant role in the marketing mix. Therefore, you’ll want to understand the role that PR plays in any new international market you are entering before developing your PR strategy. In the case of the United States, there are many other successful PR approaches beyond the more traditional options. In the US, you can take advantage of digital and non-traditional strategies that are tailored for your product, service, industry, and audience. And PR agencies have also adjusted with the times, so there are very talented people who can help you with your PR strategy should you need assistance.
Digital PR uses all of the means available online to reach target customers, including social media platforms, blogging, content platforms such as Reddit, influencer content marketing, infographics, and other creative online marketing campaigns. More than half of Americans (nearly 6 out of 10) have active social media accounts, with Facebook capturing nearly 7 out of 10 social media page views in the past year. Reddit and Twitter often appear in the top 10 US websites on Alexa.com. Keep in mind that not all of these platforms will be the place to reach your specific target customers. You will need to understand where they spend their time online before deciding on a particular approach. You can learn more about how US consumers use social media in the Mobile - Internet Usage In The US section.
Non-traditional PR includes things such as publicity stunts to gain media attention. Depending on the country, publicity stunts can be an effective way to garner attention. In fact, in some countries such as Singapore they may be necessary to rise about the crowd. Because they can capture so much attention, creativity, relevance, cultural sensitivity, and execution are keys to success vs. enduring an epic failure. Publicity stunts can be quite effective in the US if done right. Here are some examples of successful publicity stunts in the US to give you an idea for what can work.
For the most part, best practices for PR are similar country to country but it’s very important to engage local assistance in order to take advantage of the connections the locals have, the best tactics and strategies that are effective in any given country.
The PR basics to prepare for well in advance of your first initiatives
Understand the business market for any international market
As a foreign company, it’s especially important to recognize that each market will already have established competitors or alternative ways of doing things. Be aware of how your competition is positioned in the marketplace 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.
Understand your prospects
Recognize from the beginning that you have a lot to learn about the people in any new market and that they may be 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.
To help you with this effort, you can find some great PR agencies for many countries in the Globig Marketplace. Even if you outsource your PR, make sure your executives are available for interviews, the brand is positioned correctly, and that you ultimately control your voice and messaging. In other words, you’ll still want to oversee any PR efforts you outsource.
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. Be aware of local holidays, government events such as elections, and other distractions that make your outreach less important.
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 the brand image you are trying to convey. Here is a list of brand translation failures, in case you would like some examples. Setting up your product for success at the beginning of a new relationship with the people and media in a new country is much more effective than having to start again after failing the first time.
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 are not highly valued, it will be very difficult for you to get media or customer attention.
Identify and build relationships with the media players
This point is really important for the US. Many months before going to market, identify and start paying attention to the journalists, bloggers, and other media influencers that cover the industry and are reaching your target prospects. 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, be trustworthy, and respect how they want to be communicated with. By building a relationship well in advance of when you will be asking for their assistance, you have a much better chance of getting their attention. You can learn more on how to do this in the Globig section on Influencer Marketing In The US.
Using relationships also extends to your own network. If there is someone to whom you’d like an introduction, determine if they are somehow connected to someone already in your network. Clearly explain your goal and the specific request you are making, and ask your connection for an introduction. Relationships do matter and having a mutual connection make an introduction for you may get you the opportunity you are hoping for.
Message clearly, articulate benefits, be on strategy, and be 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 journalist, readership, and viewers before asking them for their time and attention.
Make a focused effort
Expanding globally requires time and effort. Every country deserves a dedicated and committed approach. People in most countries are open to trying new things if they see the value of the product. Determine what kinds of brands they enjoy and what entices them to engage. You may not get the media attention you desire until you’ve proven that you’re committed to the country and its people, they trust your products and overall brand, and see a clear differentiated value in what you have to offer, and you have spent some time getting to know the people and the media. Starting out with smaller grass roots efforts is often a good approach.
Prepare your 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.
Determine if non-traditional PR as an option
Non-traditional PR, such as publicity stunts, can be a great way to capture attention and stand out. You can also test in smaller cities or more rural locations before taking to bigger crowds. With this form of PR, get local help to make sure you will be effective with creativity, relevance, cultural sensitivity, and execution.
Overall, the key - as with all good PR and marketing - is to understand your market and follow best practices. Because you are going into a brand new market in another country and culture, your PR strategy should most likely include having local support for effectiveness, at least until you feel you have a good enough understanding to handle it yourself.
KNOWLEDGE BASE International PR For The US