By Jack Shea
Successful American PR campaigns can get away with transmitting similar messages in national and local media campaigns. The same messages can resonate with Candian audiences with consummate coverage due to cultural similarities. In Europe, PR is an entirely different story, and the American methodologies don't work across the continent.
The entire media business operates differently across nation-states. American popular culture is part of its hard news reporting with soft stories and national politics as the main focus of American media. In contrast to American media, European outlets center on hard news reporting and global trends. These European outlets rely less heavily on their editorial calendars, whereas editorial calendars are still crucial to American media outlets.
Communicating different messages to each European nation-state transposes messages across European borders and secures more coverage in European PR campaigns instead of publicizing one message for the entire continent. European PR is more complicated than American PR; however, it is worth the extra efforts. European markets are growing, and Europe is home to the most visited countries in the world. European PR is advantageous to American companies that are looking for international exposure because European media provides exposure to an international audience beyond Europe (the millions of tourists), and the influence of European media, such as the BBC, extends beyond Europe.
US companies need to be dynamic in their PR approach when entering the European market. Europe is rich in its cultural diversity; hence, companies must adapt messages to each European nation-state's culture and market. Industry research suggests there are general trends in consumer preferences across the European market, but the media messaging to these audiences needs to be creative and distinct to those different nations.
Creative messaging starts with understanding the consumer, and European consumers express more interest in social justice than their American counterparts, according to The State of Play and Major Trends in the International Public Relations Market research by ECCO. The public relations industry is what connects an increasingly activist consumer with companies that want to protect and promote their reputation. Overall, the Ecco report suggests that companies in environmental welfare, energy, healthcare, and finance are increasing their PR efforts due to their growth within the European market. What's more, the companies that are progressive and adapt their messages to fit social justice issues are thriving across European nation-states with more compelling content for their PR.
After companies successfully translate their media messages for each nation-state and understand the different markets, they need to exercise different methods of contacting European media. In America, calling journalists to pitch a story has largely fallen out of favor, except between close contacts; these days, most communication between media professionals is over email and/or social media. In some European nations, such as France, the standard PR outreach involves emailing and phoning journalists. Modern agencies, like OXYGEN, use emails and social networks to get in touch with influencers and journalists. These agencies use the methods of choice for their specific targets and are based in the locations of target media.
The most cross-border PR task is to build and maintain relationships with the media. American agencies, claiming to an international reach because they have recruited consultants who speak the language of the target country, lack the experience necessary to execute compelling PR campaigns. It turns out that this model doesn't work, and speaking the language isn’t enough. PR is not a translation profession; it is a profession of contacts that is built over time with absolute knowledge of the influencer you want to contact.
The most successful outreach efforts are to journalists whom companies have been interacting with over social media and building relationships with through courting the press (lunches and special events). Regularly sharing relevant content with journalists and influencers is key to a successful campaign in any nation-state, as well. It’s essential that your EU PR campaign takes into account the different work environments of each country you’re targeting by tailoring an approach to that particular area.
Companies that plan for the cultural differences in their European PR and conduct market research will reap the same benefits of a successful American PR campaign: legitimacy, brand awareness, and public interest. The organization of a campaign is vital to any PR campaign, and it's more challenging in European PR. The details in the strategy behind European PR are everything, which is why you choose the best possible partners to help you with your campaign.
Oxygen, a cross-border agency, operates with offices across Europe and has years of experience executing successful PR campaigns for American companies. Please reach out to the Oxygen San Francisco team if you are interested in learning more about entering the European market.