At some point in a company’s life cycle, most organizations find themselves needing to extend their PR program outside of North America. This can be driven by milestones such as significant international business growth, an acquisition of or a merger with an overseas company, or a new customer or partner based across the pond.
Oftentimes a North American-based team (internal or agency) can successfully execute a global PR program for some period of time. This is particularly true if they’re dealing primarily with English-speaking media or if there are native language speakers on the team. But eventually, an organization must assess how effective they can be over the long term in building global brand awareness and supporting other PR and marketing KPIs without boots on the ground. These local experts understand the intricacies of storytelling in their specific markets and can build those important relationships for a company with reporters with whom they’ve worked for years.
If your company is considering how to extend your North America PR program overseas, these five tips can set you up for success:
1. Build Your Global Dream Team
“Think globally, act locally” should be the mantra of any successful global PR program. Organizations that partner with a PR agency should assess its global capabilities. Do they have offices in the appropriate geographic regions or do they have trusted partners in those regions? If not, you may want to issue an RFP for local PR support in your key countries. If a company manages its PR program internally, you’ll want to assess whether there’s existing PR and marketing staff in your regional offices who can manage and implement a program or whether a new hire must be made to meet the need.
2. Create a Structure for Success
It’s essential to put a clear structure in place so your global program doesn’t turn into the Wild West. Assuming a company is headquartered in North America, it makes sense to designate the internal PR leader or the agency there to helm the coordination effort and be responsible for global synergy. Corporate messaging, PR strategy, and key milestones (e.g., announcement timing) should emanate from the global program leader, but local planning and execution should be driven by the regional staff or agency.
We also recommend scheduling a global PR/marketing call at least once per month. This call provides an opportunity for the global team leader to share corporate updates and for the local agencies to report a high-level overview of their activities, successes, and obstacles. These calls also provide an opportunity for storyline and asset sharing among the global teams. Which leads us to our next point…
3. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose
One of the benefits of a coordinated global PR team is resource and asset repurposing. For instance, if the North American PR team develops a byline, ebook, or infographic on a particular topic, the asset can be shared with the broader global team for use in their local market. Suddenly all the hard work that went into creating that one PR or content asset is made further worthwhile by being amplified around the world. So be sure to think of everything the PR and marketing team creates as material that can be localized and extended across markets.
4. Revamp Your Social Media
Expanding into another country, especially one that speaks a different language, also presents an opportunity for a company to reevaluate its social media strategy. You’ll want to consider if you need to create separate social profiles for your company’s regional markets (e.g., @CompanyX or @CompanyXEurope). You’ll also want to think about structuring your social content calendar to reflect time zone differences so you’re speaking to key audiences during their local business hours. For instance, data shows the best time for a US company to post to LinkedIn is between 10 am and noon. But for a company to reach audiences in France, they’ll obviously want to adjust timing for that local market. You also need to be mindful of language and translation nuances. If you’re relying on translation, which some social platforms like Facebook will do automatically, have someone fluent in the language review posts to avoid potentially embarrassing situations.
5. Establish Global KPIs
The PR lead will also want to establish KPIs for the global program. This may include broadening your usual competitive set to include organizations with a strong presence in local markets. Conduct a share of voice (SOV) measurement to assess your benchmark numbers and set your target increase for the coming year. Understand it may take some time to build SOV in a new geography, so be sure to include other KPIs to gauge program impact, such as new media relationships built, key message pull-through in coverage secured, or overall article quality as measured by tone and inclusion of executive quotes. Use social media to your advantage to help boost your KPIs.
It’s an exciting moment when organizations take the next step in broadening their PR reach into global markets. Incorporate these guidelines into your strategy, and you’ll create a well-coordinated program that effectively communicates key messages and spotlights your competitive differentiators — helping to build brand awareness in important geographic regions.
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