Our Associate Director, Ken Kelling, recently spoke at a Meetings Industry Association Destination Summit in Liverpool, which also welcomed speakers from VisitBritain and Vienna Convention Bureau, to advise on how destinations can promote their brand through international media.
Here are our top takeaways questions destinations need 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 question 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 realised 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 – or even cover an entire continent. Consider where is most important for your brand to raise awareness and home your efforts.
To get this right, make sure you 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 who 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.
Make sure you 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 press release generate mass coverage in great titles. Today, 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 over.
How will you overcome language barriers?
Not everyone speaks English, so it might be prudent to get content translated where possible – but don’t rely on Google Translate or Babelfish. Copy needs to be translated professionally to ensure it reads correctly and that key messages aren’t pulled out of context or misinterpreted.
Think about how your messaging and even your brand name, translate in order to avoid any embarrassing moments. For example, KFC made Chinese consumers a bit apprehensive when ‘finger licking good” was translated as ‘eat your fingers off’ – there’s some other great examples of blunders here. To this point, translators need to be alert to the nuances of speech and the written word necessary for good content. Bear in mind that any videos will also need to be translated and subtitled so that audiences aren’t alienated when you share content with international personnel.
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 corporate and business-like tone is preferred.
Finally, think about face-to-face or over-the-phone interviews, do you have an in-country spokesperson who speaks the native language? If not, is it appropriate to arrange for a translator to be present if the journalist can’t speak English?
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, much like these brands that have had their fingers burnt.
Every time your brand enters a new country, you are approaching a different culture. People may speak your language for the sake of business, but that doesn’t mean they think in the same way.
Research is imperative. For example, in areas of Europe, while it is perfectly legal to show a half-naked woman on television, this isn’t true for other parts of the world. This means that the message must either be tailored to each market or be so innocuous as to offend no one.
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 incredible story if no one will be awake or around to listen.
How are you going to activate this?
Start checking the local PR scene to get an understanding of the media landscape – are there lots of well-connected freelancers that you could use, or might an agency be your best bet? Ask for estimates, meet and speak to people on the telephone 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.If you want to find out more on this topic then please don’t hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01892 619100.