Berkeley Communications

The myth of Global PR

Why localisation is the best approach to international PR

Written by Berkeley Communications

7 May 2024


Global PR is a phrase that is often deployed in agency briefs – but what does it mean?

This guide addresses the growing myth of global PR. Our international PR experts explore what global PR isn’t, what it should be, and how to ensure you’re getting the best ROI from your international media outreach. As a result of growing global ambitions, many B2B companies are increasingly seeking a global PR strategy from the get-go. Businesses often start this search by looking for a single team that can get them media coverage in every corner of the globe, often with a limited budget – because it can’t be that difficult… right?

Not quite.

“To truly engage with local media with stories that generate real interest, you need a dedicated, personal and committed approach in each country. They are the specialists who have built up the relations with the publications you want to be in, so knowledge of what works/what doesn’t, and how and when to pitch to them is key. A scatter-gun approach from a central hub PR team simply won’t suffice, and you won’t get your desired results. Yes, we can reach out to global English-speaking publications (the likes of Forbes, WSJ, etc) but it’s the experts on the ground who hold the relationships with the local tier-one trade press, which are read by your prospects and cover your competitors.

“A central hub team will build an overall global PR strategy, with overarching messaging and narratives, but it’s then over to the local teams for execution in reach region, across each of your business markets. They not only translate, but localise the content too, tailored to the needs of regional press, to ensure they can deliver maximum results.”

Aaron Frank
Senior Account Director, Berkeley Communications

What is a global approach?

If the idea of a “global” approach is simply to reach international, largely English-language, media titles, then that means missing out on key local knowledge, insight and relationships. In fact working with a single team to reach multiple countries, without local knowledge, input or content, will see you fail to achieve the ROI you anticipate. International publications like The Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times have an enormous global reach, but they don’t necessarily always connect with readers in all regions. You can’t guarantee they are being read by your target audience. In these situations, regional media can make or break your story.

To truly reach the right audience on the ground, brands need insight into the local press, the challenges and interests of the media and readers within that country, and the right way to use language.

That said, it is possible to run an international PR campaign without reinventing the wheel for each country you want it to reach.

The secret is localisation

A PR strategy should be supported by content creation at a hub level, supported by in-country localisation, and using local PR activation and media pitching that’s tailored to and executed in that location.

To thrive in a global PR approach, it’s important to work with an agency that understands the people, practices, and climates of the countries where you are looking to raise awareness. This localised approach will be infinitely more beneficial than adopting a ‘one-size -fits-all’ model to global PR.

The global PR checklist

If there is no one-size-fits-all approach to global media outreach and public relations, what is the best way to reach the audiences that matter for you around the world? To help your business make the most of your international PR strategy and reach the global markets that matter, here is the Berkeley Communications checklist of key steps to address.

“‘Why do you want to change the content of this English press release when translating it into German? It is published in exactly the same way in America and has already been internally approved – surely you can just translate it?’

That’s a regular request for us as a DACH PR agency working with international clients. Our answer is to point out, in a friendly manner, that unfortunately, directly translating a release from a US version often won’t be enough to gain the interest of German media. That’s because the media and their requirements for a good story differ from country to country.

Even within the DACH region, what works well and brings in extensive media coverage in one country can cause complete disinterest in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Companies that want to expand their media outreach into other countries need to know this. Someone has to tell them. We do.”

Florian Schafroth
PR Director, Berkeley Kommunikation, Munich

1.  Work with trusted local partners

First of all, consider who’s going to take care of your tech PR strategy in each local market. You’ll be working closely together, and they need to understand your business in detail to correctly convey your messaging to regional media. Weigh up how well they know your niche industry, the relationships they have with local media and their knowledge and expertise of the regional press. This partner will be running your media operation in a market you may not be as familiar in, so give them the space to talk to you honestly about the local media layout, what will work for your brand and what won’t.

2. Tailor your content for local audiences

Don’t assume that your global content will work in all regions. That means not just pushing out word-by-word translations of central releases. Instead, tailor your local content so it will raise interest in each country. For each item of content, consider country-specific idiosyncrasies, such as tone, humour and news angles. Perhaps add local stats or have the courage to leave out parts of the text if it seems uninteresting, or even inappropriate for the local market. Even if you have to spend more time developing localised content, it is worth it. We promise.

3. Build relationships with journalists in their language

A study by Press Gazette shows that 21% of journalists would immediately reject a pitch if it was not personalised. But to personalise those emails, you need to have good relationships with regional journalists and publications, as well as an understanding of the media landscape and the names to approach.

Where journalists and publication remits span different areas, you should work with the different local agencies to define which media target falls into which local agency’s camp – which should be dictated by where the journalist is based or their usual country beat.

4. Manage your strategy and messaging from a central hub

Although it’s key to have tailored, localised content in each market, you’ll also want to ensure consistent messaging and brand identity in all territories. A centralised hub – whether that is a key internal team, or a lead agency – can manage the global network and ensure these central messages are distilled into local contact. The hub can also create an effective framework to ensure an effective and pain free communications flow between the client and all local agencies.

5. Land and expand

If you jump into too many markets too quickly it can reduce your campaign effectiveness. Successfully expanding beyond your country of origin takes no small amount of strategy and resources. A good approach is to focus on a core set of countries where you can make a substantive difference, or have a key business focus, rather than spreading your budget too thin. Then, once you have traction in your key markets, you can expand to the next location, tailoring your strategy based on learnings and success from the first phase.

“One of the most important aspects of public relations is personal relationships. The relationships our teams have curated over years, decades in some cases – with key journalists and media outlets alike. We have an unwavering focus on connecting our clients’ stories with the journalists and outlets that promote and share these stories across the globe.”

Robin Olsen
Head of North America, Managing Director

6. Macro vs Micro

“From a central point for view, looking at how to best approach a global PR strategy roll out has some similarities with general management styles. Using a macro rather than micro approach will typically deliver the best outcomes, just like when managing tasks within a team environment. This means a global strategy should be implemented in a top-down macro management style as this will allow local offices or partner agencies to deliver against it, whilst allowing local and cultural nuances to influence how the global strategy gets activated in each country.”

Povel Torudd
Managing Director, Australia

Reach your global audience the right way

The tips in this guide will help you tailor your PR approach as you look to reach new markets around the globe.

To find out how Berkeley Communications‘ extensive international network can help you build a hub and bespoke model that will reach your target audiences, wherever they are, speak to our team about global PR opportunities today.