Expert View: What’s the Key to Successful International PR?

Expanding your business overseas is one of the most challenging tasks an entrepreneur can face. The risks fall into many categories: finding new distributors, abiding more legal requirements, monitoring new competitors and the like. But what’s your take on international PR?

Spokespeople usually know how to manage public relations in their own country. However, different time zones, cultures, languages, demographics and media landscapes can make it all seem very daunting.

So where do you start from here?

What does the media landscape currently look like? Where do you invest your resources to increase your share of voice? And more importantly, how can you make your stories more engaging across borders?

The bigger picture

Before we all started carrying super intelligent mini computers in our pockets, we connected with one another the only way we knew how, in person. Being connected in the future will be a much more complicated concept.


Mobile users already outnumber humans.

There are nearly 7.2 billion people on earth but over 7.2 billion active SIM cards. By 2017 a third of the global population will own and use a smartphone. It’s expected that there will be nearly 565 million business mobile users and two billion business Internet users.

These facts have wide-ranging implications for businesses of all sorts and sizes.

Borders are tumbling down

Existing borders between mobile, online and social channels are tumbling down and the global media landscape is changing accordingly. Think of all the print newspapers that are reinventing themselves as digital, multimedia information sources. Not only are they launching digital editions, they’re also building a broader business model based on brand equity with commercial interests such as awards, events, etc.

Many established news providers are opting for a print and digital presence. Most of them are investing in mobile.


Today, 600 million read newspapers in digital format (around half the world’s digital population). The way people access and consume news is changing and news articles better reflect this with bite-sized content (e.g. ‘Fastft’), visual communications, video-storytelling, graphical stories, and big data analysis.

However, the high readership of leading news sites is often not matched by a depth of engagement (measured in terms of pages viewed, length of site visit, etc.). Publishers are keen to change this as it significantly influences advertising spend. Tablets might be the route to success. In France and Germany, for instance, the time spent reading news on a tablet is almost similar to that for printed news.

What does it all mean for journalism & PR?

More than half of the people worldwide read a newspaper each day and global demand for news continues to grow. However, as consumer lifestyles change, competition of online news sites grows and advertising revenues fall, the overall newspaper circulation is declining (most visible in developed countries).

Declining readerships and revenues are resulting in staff cuts. Journalists are left to produce more with less, facing multiple deadlines and less time for research, briefings, and press conferences. They have to shape stories to different media that’s focused on building more conversational and interactive relationships with their readership.


PR is about working in partnership with the media more than ever before.

There’s a growing demand for qualitative storytelling that can be easily adapted across print, digital and even social media channels (did you know that 30 per cent of the adult us population comes across news via Facebook?). New business partnerships, customers, or awards received, on the other hand, are best communicated directly by the business to its target audience.

What’s next for broadcasters?

Broadcasters also face new challenges in terms of social tv, video and on-demand viewing. Digital technology has transformed traditional TV and radio broadcast channels drastically over the years. Today’s generation expect their news on demand on any device, in real-time. Leading news channels are reflecting this change. CNN content, for instance, comprises 46% commentary and 54% reporting.

As broadcasting news is migrating to the internet, there’s a growing opportunity for PR to deliver more relevant, newsworthy, prepackaged video news that is easy for a broadcaster to disseminate through a range of channels.

Did you know that one in four of the world’s population uses social networks?

By 2017 that social population is expected to total more than 2.5 billion – a third of the world’s population! Huge social networks such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are leading the way, but niche and country-specific newcomers will grow rapidly alongside.

Social Media Logotype Background

As social media becomes ever more central part of business communication strategies, pressures will mount to address the quality, authenticity, and online privacy of information posted.

For instance, Twitter has appointed a former NBC news chief to manage its growing role as a media source. Other networks are expected to follow, appointing both journalists and policy experts.

So what is the key to successful international PR?

To succeed in local markets you need to match an understanding of the big picture with local stories, local context and spokespeople. Find out what your target markets care about, what the competition is saying and what local problems your product or service solves.

The days of one-size-fits-all press releases issued from head office in one language are long gone. Today’s news is about qualitative stories that can adapt to different languages, cultures, countries, audiences, channels, devices and media. Stories that can cross borders.

Ultimately, the power of story matters more than the process or mechanism of delivery.

Read more: 5 Things You Should Know Before Stepping Into Tech PR