Local Flavours10 years, 10 months ago
Delivering successful multi-country campaigns within Europe involves adjusting formats to meet local preferences, writes Anja D’Hondt.
Developing a successful campaign or PR program across multiple countries requires a cross-border mindset. It is not enough to create a concept that works in one country and then simply translate it for other regions. There are local language issues but also cultural and religious aspects that flavor perception.
Furthermore you need to consider legal issues as to direct mailings and email traffic. With the changing role of the media, companies and PR agencies have to research and define the most efficient channels to communicate messages to the stakeholders. Also this is very different from one country to another.
The overall concept of a media campaign can be fairly neutral and generic, reflecting the key messages and values you want to communicate. For instance you can decide to work with customer testimonials or choose sports as an overall theme. You then have to allow each country to use their local hero customers or feature specific sports that are most popular in their country, reflecting your brand and messaging. For example golf is a very democratic sport in the UK and US, but in other countries regarded as an activity preserved for the elite.
Some general themes could work across borders, like football during a World Cup when everyone is engaged in this event, or environment. But still it has to then feature local football heroes or environmental issues people are locally confronted or concerned with.
This local angle connects the regional market with your products and company, making sure your messages stick to their mind and appeal to them. Ideally you should work with local experts who know the market and can consult you on what works best from their personal experience and business perspective.
Adjusting the format
Besides content and language you also need to consider adjusting formats to local preferences or habits. During a recent European campaign for one of our clients we used the customer testimonial concept. In France we opted for advertorials, in the UK we developed a 12-page editorial insert, Germany preferred one-third vertical adverts and in Benelux we ran half page and digital banner ads.
There are clear differences between the countries but also between the publications and the way they present information to their readers. British trade press is regarded as more critical, Germans want facts and figures, French like to do it their way and research the information themselves. Spain and Italy are usually very happy to get the information in their language with some local quotes and angles, provided this is of good quality.
Shaking the media landscape
Once the concept and format is developed and ready for implementation you carefully need to map out and line up all available channels. Different print and online media platforms, and also the social media can be applied to carry the campaign. This needs to be done on a country-level, researching the best regional print and online platforms for your messages.
For the mentioned testimonial campaign we developed a low-cost web video of the hero customers in each country, selecting key quotes and nice application images. This was run in parallel to the print ad and PR campaign on the websites of the selected publications, but also on the client’s website and You Tube account. We also placed the videos on several local online media who offered links to You Tube or hosted the videos directly.
There is a move into digital and social media, more advanced in the UK, Benelux and Germany, and coming on stronger in Southern Europe. Some publishers use shortened online versions of their print magazine but others are applying this as an additional news channel to complement monthly print publications. We see some print publications being completely replaced by online versions, which can work well for certain markets or regions.
The media are on the move and have to develop new ways to reach their readers who have more access and tools to grab the news and information pro-actively. We no longer wait for the newspaper or print magazine to land on our desk, or for the daily news on TV. Most of us now receive online newsletters on a daily basis or we read on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and other platforms what is moving and shaking.
We have become more individual in our news gathering, which arrives to us through online mass media. There is a clear need to filter the information in order to process everything we receive. And this is exactly what is expected from consumer and trade media, that they select the information most relevant and important to their readers.
Companies and PR agencies can tap into this by more carefully targeting the publications and by providing information and news localized to their region. In doing so, they have to make sure to use the channels that are most appropriate for each country.
In Benelux and UK LinkedIn is very strong, in Germany Xing is more used for networking and group discussions. Twitter can be a good platform but again you need an account for each country or even target market, posting local information if you really want to reach the local community. As for email campaigns you may consider print as an alternative to the overwhelming stream of emails your stakeholders have to deal with.
To conclude, European campaigns can work very well but they need to be implemented locally from a visual and content side. Formats and media channels will differ and have to be evaluated per market and per country. There are great opportunities to use new technologies and media channels to stand out and communicate in a more creative way.
Anja D’Hondt is managing partner of international trade PR agency Duomedia, which is based in Belgium and supported by a team based in the key European countries. It runs successful media campaigns, events and programs across Europe and internationally for companies like Kodak, Ricoh, Bekaert, Punch Graphix, Messe Düsseldorf and Pantone. Anja was recently appointed Board Member of BPRCA, Belgian Public Relations Consultants Association (www.bprca.be), representing leading Belgian PR agencies. In this role she gives PR training to junior PR staff in Belgium.mail the author
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