UK vs US PR: What you need to know before scaling up in America
On international campaigns we work with our good friends across the pond at Songue PR. So, for anyone thinking about taking their brand to US here is some great advice from Co-Founder Natalee Gibson.
Despite sharing a common language, similarities in US and UK PR often stop at the water’s edge. UK companies looking to make the leap to the US, especially as it relates to communications, marketing and PR, often find it more difficult than expected.
Companies scaling up their comms initiatives into the US often take one of two approaches. The first is to “build out” their existing PR programs to include the US market, often with the same or only slightly altered messaging and strategy. The second is to treat US PR as an entirely separate project, with its own messaging, budget, news pipeline and content.
it is true that many PR practices are similar no matter where you go – the need to tell a good story for example or establish strong relationships with the press – there are also key differences that must be understood in order to succeed.
Here are three considerations your business should evaluate before deciding to embark on US PR activity.
US PR is far more expensive than in the UK. There are many reasons for this, chief among them is the sheer size of the market and the press who cover it. Depending on the industry and target audience, the media landscape can be anywhere from 5x to 10x bigger than in the UK and even across Europe. Expenses go up if you want full-circle PR work, including speaking and award opportunities, content creation and placement, analyst relations and more.
The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ matters here. In a constantly shifting environment, where reporters change publications and beats frequently and media outlets down-size and up-size quickly, PR professionals in the US must work hard to achieve results, rise above the noise and ensure your company or executive are in front of the right journalist at the right publication at the right time.
Speaking of time, a common mistake for companies looking to increase PR activity in the US is failing to appreciate the timeline required to get news in front of the right sources.
The news cycle is constantly evolving and members of the media are inundated with press releases, pitches and breaking news. Add to that fact that, more so than ever before, journalists are crossing over to write about trending topics related to everything from politics to social justice to natural disasters. As editorial staff numbers continue to shrink, most reporters are having to churn out a higher number of stories at an increased rate and cover more subject matters.
The best thing you can offer to a journalist, beyond the story and assets themselves, is the proper amount of time to dig in, write and file. A typical news announcement needs at least a week-long window to pitch, more if you’re targeting an exclusive. The easiest way to get on a journalist’s bad side is to give them to the news with no advanced warning.
3 The kinds of stories that matter in the US
Believe it or not, what is of interest to US reporters and their readers can differ greatly from the UK, as can the requirements to get a good story.
US reporters are highly US-centric. Unless their beat requires that they write about happenings in another country, they tend to prefer a very sharp US angle. Products and services must be available to US customers. Your customer references and proof points should also be US-based. Messaging should resonate with a US audience and be written in American English.
US reporters love data, especially proprietary data that can’t be gleaned from anywhere else. They also require that all assets necessary to tell a story – whether that be images, video and data or customer references and spokespeople – be available to them in the window that they need. US press are, by nature, highly skeptical. One of the quickest ways to cause lasting damage to your brand perception with the US media is to promise a source and not deliver on it.
The US market can be a fantastic boon for companies looking to scale up and grow their audience and overall market share. Assuming that you can simply hop across the pond and communicate the same message is the wrong way to approach PR, but for those who are willing to invest the right resources and time, it can be a true game changer in brand exposure.
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