Global PR revenue is expected to climb to a record $19.3 billion by 2020—an increase of more than $5 billion from just three years ago.
As more companies seek to expand into new markets or drive greater visibility in existing ones, they’re ramping up public relations to maximize international opportunities.
For those tapping global PR services for the first time, however, there’s an understandable and pronounced learning curve. Knowing the core challenges and mechanics common to global PR is essential to ensuring a smart, efficient and successful program.
Here are five things to consider when launching a global communications strategy:
1. Invest in your setup. What type of global PR model works best for your organization? Large organizations might have one global PR agency with offices in all key markets to support their strategy. Another approach for big companies is to have multiple PR agencies across core regions and geographies (possibly through a network like the PROI). Others have a bevy of in-house PR team members supporting a global program, with agencies only in select markets. Finally, an increasingly common arrangement—particularly for startups and smaller entities that don’t have a multimillion-dollar PR budget—is for a North American agency to execute a global PR program by tapping agency members with experience in those markets, while supporting additional cities with expert freelancers. Each model has pros and cons in terms of complexity and budget. The former models have more boots on the ground, for example, but are more expensive. The latter are more cost-effective but with less in-market expertise.
2. Pick a leader. For global PR programs, having one individual in charge of managing and overseeing the overall effort is crucial. Many disparate parts are involved in executing PR regionally. A global PR strategy might involve dozens of team members and even more initiatives. Every market should have a tailored and unique approach. Having one core team member—whether in-house on the brand side or within one of your agencies—with experience managing global communications programs is important. That person must be able to wrap their arms around everything. If a story is told prematurely in one region, it could hurt efforts elsewhere. Having a single source of truth and a one-person hub who can advise on and evaluate strategy will drive greater success.
3. Monitor logistics.The logistical challenges of a global PR program are expected, but it’s important to bake the challenges into your program to maintain realistic timelines and optimize your team members and agency partners. For example, global status calls with key stakeholders are a challenge to coordinate, particularly when they involve APAC partners who are 12 hours away. Similarly, press releases take time to be translated, then reviewed by a designated client-side marketing or comms person in a position to approve the material for market distribution. What about PR documents and sharing privileges? Who can access what and through which platforms (such as Google Docs, Evernote, Slack.)? These simple factors contribute to a prolonged preparation, planning and evaluation period for each initiative. Recognize this from the outset, and don’t let these challenges surprise you.
4. Respect cultural and workstyle differences. If you’re seeking to grow your business internationally, you must respect and recognize the cultural and business norms in those markets. For example, EMEA generally observes more federal holidays than the U.S. does. That does not mean in-market EMEA team members have to work on their holidays or cater to a U.S.-driven PR calendar. Respect the norms and workflows in each market. Another example: Not every big announcement will play in one market or another, for whatever reason. Perhaps the technology is too advanced for the region, or it’s addressing a problem that isn’t as pronounced there. Maybe the partner you’re announcing is well-known in North America and Europe but has no cachet in the Middle East or APAC. The overall point: Do not try to jam puzzle pieces where they don’t fit.
5. Feel free to repurpose—to a point. Each player should have a tailored strategy that respects the customers and prospects in that market. However, in most cases your fundamental PR themes and messages won’t be dramatically different from region to region; your value proposition is generally the same. With that in mind, companies can repurpose content and ideas across markets without having to reinvent the wheel. For example, all guest articles for a client in one market can be shared with their sibling regions, allowing those in those markets the latitude to choose relevant content that they translate, repitch and republish. If done with care, repurposing content across markets can deliver ongoing value.
A version of this post first appeared on PR Fishbowl, a Crenshaw Communications blog.