As more news releases go global, the rules get more complex.
While press releases have long been used in developed global markets, their presence is now rising in emerging markets, such as Eastern Europe.
"Press releases used to be less of an information source in [continental] Europe than in the US [or] UK, but that is rapidly changing," says Rudi De Ceuster, Business Wire's senior director, European business development. "A well-edited text, in clear, factual language, will stand much chance of being printed or quoted, even in full."
Colleen Pizarev, PR Newswire's VP of international distribution, says you must know and work around hot topics in various markets. "In China, stay away from human rights, disobedience, freedom, and CSR," she notes. "We've had releases refused because of [CSR] information in boilerplates."
Superlatives, such as "the best," tend to spur skepticism and/or disdain internationally. "Don't be too aggressive," adds Hector Botero, president of Business Wire Latin America. "Don't [condescend]. And always be aware of national pride. In Taiwan, if you pitch a company with ties to China, you'll get resistance. Watch geopolitical dynamics."
Relevant information is also key. "Don't send US news to a regional or national publication," says Paolina Milana, Market Wire's VP of marketing and media relations.
According to Pizarev, the most popular global general-media coverage includes technology, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment. "If content is product-related and highly vertical in its use, trade publications may be the best option," she notes. "Asian general media is more tolerant of technical releases in all industries than are Europeans or Latin Americans."
De Ceuster says that Latin media and readers have historically thought of press releases as advertising and might distrust them in principle, while Western European reporters "tend to find the pure information within the PR package." Pizarev adds that Russians are still skeptical of most things US and won't consider anything not Russia-related.
Chinese media is highly regulated, and stories must be government-sanctioned. "You must use official, censorship channels such as TIPS (Trade Information Posting System)," says Kevin Chiew, BW's director of business development, Asia region. "If a journalist makes a mistake they don't just lose their job, they disappear."
China has the most jailed journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Pizarev explains that most markets have a national news agency that distributes to mainstream media, and using a US news-wire is the easiest way to access these.
Translate all European releases into appropriate languages. If you e-mail a release to Russia, for example, with English in the subject line, it shows up as garble and usually gets tagged as spam.
In India, Pizarev and Chiew agree that English-language releases are sufficient for most purposes. Don't overestimate English language proficiency and be cognizant of nuance. "For a former British colony, consider changing spelling to 'the Queen's English,'" Chiew says. "It will be better received, especially in Australia and New Zealand."
Asian languages require extra consideration. "You need translations in three versions of Chinese - simplified for the mainland, especially in the north; traditional in the south, especially in the Hong Kong region; and Big 5 for Taiwan," he adds.
Quotes from local people increase pick-up chances. Always list local contacts first. If you don't have one, Milana suggests including best dates and times to make contact.
"[Use] keywords that are applicable in the country - that's how people search," Pizarev says. "[Watch] word usage. If I'm looking for 'six,' and 'half dozen' is all over the release, it won't come up. Be simple. Be direct."
Finally, be wary of scams. PRN reports eight to 10 instances a year of two types coming out of Russia and China. People pose as journalists looking for corporate information that they try to use for some form of stock fraud or they request payment for coverage.
"Make sure the journalist is legitimate and working for the publication before granting an interview," Pizarev says. "Also check the publication itself. In enormous markets such as China and Russia, journalist impostors and fictitious [titles] are numerous."
Be mindful of cultural differences, sensitivities, and conflicts
Translate all copy into the appropriate language
Include quotes from local people and cultivate local contacts
Be pushy, or include alienating or condescending language
Send releases that are irrelevant to journalists or audiences
Use phrases/words that could cause confusion when translated