Why being aware of cultural differences is vital when doing tech PR globally
Here is a scenario.
You spend a lot of time and effort building and streamlining your communications and then decide to take this message globally.
You choose your regions, translate all of your content forming part of your campaign and decide on the channels you want to focus on. Then you decide to amplify your campaign and wait for the results to come in . . .
You slowly start to realise that your campaign isn’t going as well as you’d hoped for. Your news isn’t being picked up by the media, your CTRs aren’t great and your website isn’t getting the visitors you’d hoped for. All of your time, effort and budget isn’t being reflected in the success of the campaign.
So you start to question what went wrong and how you can optimise your efforts next time to ensure your campaign is a success and reaches the right audience.
From our experience the answer to this can often be simple – for successful global campaigns local knowledge of each of the regions you are pushing your communications through is VITAL.
When it comes to conversing with your audiences in foreign markets, literally, simply translating the content and amplifying it can undo all the hard work you put into creating it in a heartbeat. What resonates in one market for you won't necessarily sing in another; for example a German technical professional might see things differently to their French counterpart.
In order for your global campaign to be a success, you need content strategists, market researchers and creative professionals on hand to provide insight and analysis that underpins and ensures bespoke regional content that gets under the skin of your local technical audience. It is essential to produce content that evokes the same emotion and response in your target audience as the original did in its primary form.
Many of those subtle differences in communication depend on national or even regional culture, despite globalisation. The preferred tone of voice, message and even medium may vary significantly from country to country.
Over the past year, we have run a series of short insights looking at the cultural differences in various regions and how to ensure your trade and tech PR is a success. Here are some highlights:
As a “country of engineers”, Germany hosts many of the largest MOEMs and electrical engineering companies in the world. This is reflected in the trade media landscape which is extremely diverse and features a large number of specialised magazines for almost every industry imaginable. The huge competition for attention means there is a need to build close, personal relationships with the media and influencers that are most important to you.
The fact that Germany is a decentralised territorial state makes networking with editors quite challenging. Also, detail-oriented German engineers tend to like articles focussing mainly on technical features. 8.000 character articles are the norm.
In France, thought-leadership content around trending topics, in French, with supportive facts and figures is the “crème de la crème”. If you can support this with a local client’s testimonial, even better. Editorial integrity is important in France so it is rare to see a company article or comment published verbatim. More likely, the editor will use the idea behind the content as the base for an interview.
And surely all editorial placements in France are agreed over a bottle of wine? Clichés exist for a reason and editors can be tempted by a free lunch, but simply sending an invite is not enough.
Spanish journalists welcome thought-leadership content and application stories, preferably with local manufacturers’ facts and figures. In addition, trade and tech editors are very keen on interviewing country heads or CEOs, who should provide a strategic outlook, local insights and market trends. Compared to some of their European counterparts, Spanish editors are not very interested in receiving extensive product fact sheets or lengthy articles full of countless technical details. They prefer surveys with strong statistics that allow them to compare different regions and highlight the quirks and contrasts between each other.
Italy boasts a broad and comprehensive B2B media landscape, particularly in sectors such as industrial automation and electrical engineering. More recently, new titles – entirely dedicated to Industry 4.0 – have made the industrial trade media base more diverse and cutting-edge than ever.
According to an old Italian saying, Italians are a people of saints, poets and sailors. Yet, there’s another important occupation that lies at the heart of the Italian way of life: the art of selling. Unsurprisingly, the Italian B2B media outlets are largely commercially-orientated.
When it comes to building relationships with the Italian trade and tech media, knowing the language is pretty much essential. Most Italian editors will always prefer a phone call or, even better, a face-to-face meeting to an email, so opportunities to speak to them and getting to know them on a more personal level can really make the difference.
And now onto APAC. The truth around dealing with the trade and tech PR in Asia Pacific is that it is something of a minefield. Very few media outlets (save for a few honourable exceptions in Singapore and Australia) have audited circulations and the vast majority are very commercial i.e. they won’t entertain your stories editorially without advertising support - in a media outlet with no real credibility.
The reality is that there is no substitute for hard work. You need to build close relations with the media outlets and influencers that are most important to you. One huge plus point is that meeting journalists in APAC is very much part of the landscape. ‘A half an hour cup of coffee’ really can be just that without impacting too much on your schedule and their deadlines.
In our experience and over the years, we have found that by creating material centrally, by highly specialist native speakers who have years of experience in working with the media in their country, and approaching stakeholders in their local language - you can be impactful, control messages and flow globally.
By opting for a PR centralised model, say for example you are reaching out to 30 countries - all those countries talk to just one agency who reports back to the client. There are less lines of reporting and human intervention which ultimately means clearer messaging and a sharper way of working. If those 30 countries all had individual agencies approaching thousands of journalists, there is huge margin for error and loss of clarity. Centralisation shortens the lines of communication and allows a PR agency to become an extension of the client, operating seamlessly and integrating easily into the organisation and it does not mean you lose local flavor.
And of course, for companies with complex technical products, there is a far more accurate interpretation of data, particularly if working with a specialised technical agency.
Sylvia Laws, Managing Director, Technical Associates Group (TAG)