Tanya Lewis' recent story, "What's Mandarin for 'press release'?" (PRWeek, February 12), touched on some important tactics for launching an international PR program.
However, in order to be really effective, there are many more things to consider. The following is a more in-depth look at what I call "PR Across Borders."
Target your message. Releases about new products, enhancements, and industry awards are of interest only to trade media - with the caveat that some papers have robust tech and health sections and will print not-too-technical news. Newspapers are only interested in office or plant openings, deals with manufacturing reps, and basically anything that directly relates to employees in the target nation.
Send releases regularly. Journalists most likely won't write about you if you send releases infrequently. It takes some time for them to get to know you're a going concern. The more information they see about you, the more likely they'll write about you down the line. Be patient - it can take several months before you're well-known in media circles.
Make sure your releases are posted to as many of your target market-language databases as possible. Journalists use databases for research on stories just as often in other countries as in the US. It's also important for recruiting efforts - when competing for the best talent, the more information on your company available to potential employees in their own language, the more likely they will join your company.
Get good quotes. Anything from a local executive of a customer/client/partner stating how your product/service/partnership will greatly benefit the target audience. Not having a local quote will greatly reduce pickup of your press release.
Always translate your press release, if it's appropriate. In some countries, very few journalists speak anything other than their native languages. Unless the article is destined for one of the handful of English-language titles in that country meant for foreigners, they are all writing in their own languages. Sending a press release in English can be universally ignored. Remember, if a journalist is on deadline and there are two releases - one in English that will take some time to digest and write in language, and one already in language and ready to go - the journalist will choose the one that is translated for the story.
Localize your Web site. Make sure any product or service information on your Web site is translated into the languages of the countries on at least your "A" list and preferably your "B" list, as well as the About Us and Contact Us pages. Journalists interested in writing a story off your press release will visit your Web site. If there is no information in their own languages, the chances of actually getting that story decrease dramatically.
Incorporating these tips will help you build an effective PR strategy overseas.
VP, international distribution