ITL #235 Eyes on Europe: how to make an impact

3 years, 1 month ago

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Despite the confusion and uncertainties of Brexit, Europe is buzzing with innovation and opportunities. By Claire Walker.



In spite of Brexit and its ramifications, the European market will remain a key player for any businesses looking to expand globally, and Europe is buzzing with innovation. Eight out of the top 10 countries in the Global Innovation Index 2017 are European countries. Forbes recently noted that that high consumer and business confidence levels bode well for the second half of 2017 - so if your company has its eyes on Europe, then having a strong communications strategy should be a top priority.

When approaching a pan-European PR campaign you must be mindful of the situation. Europe is composed of multiple countries, with their own cultures, languages, and economic influences. We cannot approach Europe as one region.

Instead, marketers need to consider market opportunities and key competition in each country. Don’t get over-excited and try to launch in all countries at once, spreading your budget and efforts too thinly. Instead invest where the potential is, look at market size and competition and gauge the opportunity.  

But before you embrace pan-European PR, there are three practical tips to consider:

Embrace the differences

Cookie cutter approaches don’t work. Not every country does PR in the same way. Just because media alerts get a lot of coverage in one country does not mean it will work in another. Instead of using a blanket approach, tailor specific content for each country – otherwise the locals will not engage. Repurpose and translate what you can, but ensure you create separate assets for each region in the local language. If your main Twitter feed is reporting from HQ in Munich, your target audience in Madrid will likely not speak German or particularly care about the German market. In this instance, you would want to create separate social media accounts for each region to ensure you accommodate for the different cultures.

Overall, your strategy must appeal to the local landscape. Make sure you understand each country individually. Beginning a UK campaign in August wouldn’t be a problem, but if you kicked one off in France, Italy or Spain the majority of the media would be on holiday. Having good insights into the socio-economic and cultural climate of the countries you’re working in will allow you to run effective campaigns that will engage with your target audience.

Keep an eye on the time

Make sure you watch out for time zone issues. It’s easy to forget that 9am in California is 5pm in the UK. So, sending out a release at 9am Californian time will get you coverage in the US but it’s likely that the results won’t be as good as they could be in Europe. Ensure your European agencies have time to pre-pitch the story to their local media, as this will help you boost your results.

But it’s not just time zones your need to consider. Holidays can have a big impact on the effectiveness of a campaign. Plan your PR strategy around local bank holidays. In the UK, bank holidays tend to fall on a Monday or Friday whereas in France their holidays tend to fall on a Tuesday or Thursday. For many workers, they use these holidays to lengthen their weekends. Similarly, Europeans do not all have the same days off. In each country it differs, so you must make sure you plan around these days.

Stay connected

It’s easy to lose sight on what your local agencies are doing, particularly if you’re working with a number of different agencies. Your European teams should be collaborating and speaking to each other. But this is often more successful in smaller groups. You must be mindful of the fact that not everyone will speak your language and the points you’re making may get lost when hosting large conference calls or meetings. Instead, share regular activity updates on channels like Basecamp or Slack. English may be the language that connects you all, however, not everyone will feel completely confident in speaking it. Instead, you can discuss planning over email or IMs, which gives your teams time to consider what you’re saying.

Also, trust in your European agencies. They are the locals and they know what works best in their country. Allow them some time to give their feedback on your strategy, they know their own media best.

Finally, don’t jump into a pan-European PR plan without considering all of your options. Entering Europe will require a lot of planning and thought. If you jump in blindly, you may risk damaging your company’s reputation and either never engaging with your audience in the European market, or turning them off before you’ve even got started.

If you consider these top tips, you will be well on your way to winning in a market that represents approximately 20% of the world’s economy.


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The Author

Claire Walker

Claire Walker, founder and CEO of Firefly Communications.

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