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International B2B tech PR: Bolstering a US company’s UK media success


Written by Mike Greenshields

Earlier this year we spoke to our colleagues in some of Europe’s key tech markets to get the inside track on what it takes to really succeed with international B2B tech PR in those countries.

The advice was designed to help anyone planning to kick start their pan-European PR efforts and we covered Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands with a range of insights on local market concerns.

Much of the interest we saw came from the US, so this new addition to the series covers some of the key tactical differences between approaches to UK and American B2B tech PR.

These are designed to highlight why things differ – often for very practical reasons – and how to best overcome them to make your next UK PR push a greater success.

Newswire = snoozewire

Newswire distribution is used much more frequently by US tech companies than those from the UK. While it can help to spread stories to certain types of sites, it does little in the UK to drive quality exposure. In fact, it can prove costly and inefficient.

The UK media is deeply cynical. If journalists see a story on a newswire, it’s already old news for them. They have no incentive to invest time in developing their own story for publication.

So, don’t rely on a newswire to drive the results you need to see.

Tailored distribution tactics are more effective with UK journalists. They want something their competitors don’t have.

Exclusives and targeted pitching are far more impactful than mass distribution. Sometimes a compelling press trip might even offer the best route.

That’s not to say there’s never a place for the newswire in your distribution strategy. Sometimes it can pay off. But don’t default to it. Take the advice of your local PR team to determine whether it’s the right vehicle to achieve your desired objectives.

Burying the lead

Sometimes a US originated press release requires a great deal of work to adapt it for the needs of UK media.

Much of this is structural. Many US-led releases focus on what the company wants to say, and it’s rare this is even close to what the intended audience (journalists, not investors) needs to see.

The releases tend to address where the company is based, what it specialises in, who it is a subsidiary of, NASDAQ listing number, etc. and only after this does the story start. Sometimes this structure stems from legal or regulatory necessity, but it results in the exact opposite of what UK journalists want to see.

The story is king in the UK. You have seconds to capture an overstretched UK journalist’s attention. The more work they have to do to wade through corporate lingo, the less likely it is to result in the headlines (if any at all).

Work with your local PR team to develop a story that works for the UK market. If you have restrictions around how you are expected to issue announcements, develop a plan that can give the story the best chance of standing up on its own merits. But don’t just issue the release as is to the local media. It won’t help your cause.

Killer KPIs

Because of some stark differences in attitude, structure and size of the UK tech media, it’s incredibly rare that the same KPIs used Stateside can work locally.

The UK tech media is far less populous than its US counterpart, often operating on near skeleton staff. There are fewer publications to target and a fraction of the people there to pick up on the stories.

However, where the UK wins out is the opportunity for high quality, focused results.

Developing a top 10 list of your top tier targets is key, and building a plan to hit each of them at various points in the year can be a far more effective approach than either a scattergun approach or focusing exclusively on national media outlets.

It also helps you to build stronger working relationships with the press that matter most to your target audience, opening doors to other future opportunities for coverage.

KPIs that enable this approach will still stretch your UK PR team, but it’s a far more effective approach to adopt.

Over-sharing

I’ve known US agencies to send decks of research behind a report to media. On the one hand this transparency is admirable. However, the flip side is it leaves the journalist with the task of interpreting the data IF they want to write a story.

Furthermore, sharing the full deck from the get-go significantly lessens the likelihood of the headlines you had envisioned from appearing, as individual journalists are likely to adopt their own angle on the data.

For UK media that’s an obstacle. If a journalist asks for the full research deck, you should be able to share it, sure. But your starting point should be presenting the strongest story that the data tells to them in your announcement.

It might seem obvious to some, but rather than blanket distribution of the full report, combine strong data with the right story and target the right media. You’ll stand much more chance of generating the headlines you want to see.

If you’ve found this information helpful, take a look at some of the tips our partners gave us on managing PR in other European countries.