When you’re currently operating from one country with a great PR or integrated marketing agency on board, taking the leap to an organisation that wants to expand to other territories is, well, a big leap. If your company fits or is about to fit this bill, there are some questions to ask yourself. How do you know when to expand your PR and marketing efforts to complement the business expansion? What are the indicators which tell you that multinational PR and communications is a good use of your time and budget in the short to medium term? This article sets out to help you along that decision-making process.
The two main options
If the following two routes sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. At a minimum level, you could consider distributing company news to international newswires from HQ and/or working with in-country freelancers. This level of international PR is hard work – translating or approving copy and managing that freelance network – but it’s relatively low cost, low risk and flexible. It may suit some companies at the beginning or test phases of international expansion.
At the other end of the scale, full-service international PR may seem like the next step. This route however best suits mid-to-large sized multinational companies, for many reasons:
- To make it work, you need a local sales team, who can efficiently do the comparative job of your home country’s sales team;
- An office or sufficient operational structure with a meaningful presence in each additional country;
- The time and resource, in-house, to effectively brief, manage and deliver the PR and marketing campaigns; and
- Budget – here, I’d say money does matter to a degree. Your company needs to have ‘enough’ money to allow each in-country agency to focus on making sure your business scales, reaches and achieves company goals in local markets.
Working with us in this way means that we deliver you our International Performance Management (IPM), agency-agnostic approach. There are four different options, from working with some of the pre-selected, independently owned and managed WIN PR Group agencies, one of which is Whiteoaks, to mixing and matching us with other agencies that you may have an existing relationship with.
But, back to the budget.
- For example, if you spend £5k per month in the UK or your home country on a PR and communications agency. A lot of prospective and existing clients tell me that they can allocate around £2k, maybe £3k each for example, for an agency in Benelux, France, Germany and the Nordics. You can choose to do this, but I think it’s simply not going to change anything. It’s not enough budget to deliver the same or similar effect that you already experience in your home country.
- My recommendation is that you need to match your UK or home country monthly agency spend if you plan to expand into countries including those primary key European markets that I mentioned earlier. This also applies to the Middle East, Africa and some of the smaller Asia-Pacific markets
- In the US and larger countries in Asia like China and Japan, I’d recommend doubling that home country monthly budget.
The genuine alternative
For fast-growth, innovative tech brands, that kind of budget is simply not achievable at this mid-point in their lifecycle, but an extra £2k or £3k per month can still present you with options to achieve change. Working with your UK or native country’s PR and communications agency to develop an integrated marketing programme where PR doesn’t mean only media relations, you can for example develop and execute:
- A robust content marketing strategy, which works hard to re-purpose themes and tailor content for other countries local variances;
- Campaigns and targeted problem-solving thought leadership in the trade media and for hand-picked contacts in the broader print and online press in English-speaking countries. Working from the UK to drive a client’s expansion in the US works well here, for example:
- We’ve been working with Fraedom, a fintech provider for banks and global businesses, for the last 12 months, developing and delivering thought leadership programmes and research-driven news campaigns in the UK and the US
- Retail technology and consulting firm, REPL Group, hired us this Spring to raise its profile in creating best-in-class workforce management and engagement, warehouse management and in-store solutions. Just a handful of months later, the company has asked us to expand our UK media relations and thought leadership programme to the US market;
- Local social media;
- Marketing emails and blogs driven from and effective content plan;
- Cherry-picking attendance at events with stands and speaker slots; and
- If your company is launching a product or service or wants to announce its expansion into a new sector or country, then of course there are cost-effective ways to do that centrally on an ad hoc basis with media relations.
I hope that in this piece, I’ve helped you to realise that there is a workable, high performance and cost-effective middle ground to managing international B2B PR with one or more agencies. If you would like to discuss the options in more detail, contact us here.
James Kelliher, CEO