The secret to a successful international PR campaign

Expert Opinion
The secret to a successful international PR campaign

PR agency Davies Tanner’s Associate Director Ken Kelling offers his tips for initiating a successful international PR campaign.


Many venues and destinations face a familiar problem of getting their brand name in front of international event planners and buyers.

One fool-proof way of promoting facilities, capabilities and services is via a strategic international PR programme. Here are four top takeaway questions to consider, in order to succeed with international media:


Why are you targeting international press?

If you don’t have a clear answer to this then the chances are that it’s too early, or not the right strategy for you to consider international media engagement.

You need to begin with a strong notion as to the results you want to achieve from this activity. Engaging with international media can be time-consuming and expensive, so you need to know that it will be worth the investment.

Set clear, realistic objectives and work out how you’re going to measure success.

Consider how you will track coverage and its impact, especially when it’s published in a foreign language. Ultimately, you don’t want to spend all your efforts in securing coverage in international publications, to later realise that all your key messages weren’t included.


What countries are relevant to you?

Just because you’re looking to engage with an international audience, doesn’t mean it has to be global. Consider where is most important for your brand to raise awareness and hone your efforts.

Do your research in terms of your target market. What aspects of your product/offering will attract that audience and how can you position it to be of interest to them?

Once you have a better idea of whom and where you are targeting, then it should be easier to determine which media titles are best for you to approach and what features or opportunities will be most relevant for your message. 

Be sure to use the correct medium for your message. Different countries use different media platforms, for example, in China WeChat is ubiquitous.


Are you pitching blind?

Gone are the days where a blanket email or release generates mass coverage. It’s all about a tailored approach and personal relationships between brands, agencies and journalists.

You have one chance with a journalist. Before approaching the publication, have a clear idea as to who you need to speak to for the specific column or feature you are interested in. Consider what sort of information they will need and ask for and have it prepared, ready to send.

How will you overcome language barriers?

It might be prudent to get content translated – but don’t rely on Google Translate or Babelfish. Copy needs to be translated professionally to ensure key messages aren’t misinterpreted.

Think about how your messaging and even your brand name, translate in order to avoid embarrassing moments. KFC made Chinese consumers apprehensive when ‘finger licking good” was translated as ‘eat your fingers off’.

Tone and style are important too, for example, in South America content works best when it’s more colourful and emotive as opposed to Germany, where a more business-like tone is preferred.


Have you considered cultural differences?

Due to differences in attitudes, beliefs and language, even a simple message may have very different meanings when transmitted to various cultures. Without doing due diligence, it can be easy to unintentionally make a cultural faux pas. Be aware of cultural holidays, traditional siesta times and time zones when pitching and engaging with these new territories. There’s little point going out with your great story if no one will be awake or around to listen.


How are you going to activate this?

Understand the local media landscape – are there lots of well-connected freelancers you could use or agencies? Meet people and ask questions – PR is a personable profession and you need to see that they will be able to do your brand justice over the phone with journalists. It always pays to ask your network for recommendations.

Stuart Wood is a news reporter across the Mash Media editorial portfolio. He writes for CMW alongside sister publications Conference News, Exhibition News, Access All Areas and Exhibition World.

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