Be they fast-growing scale-ups looking to launch outside of their home country or established global incumbents with offices all around the world, almost all enterprise technology companies have something in common: the need for a strong, established presence on both sides of the Atlantic.
With teams on ‘on the ground’ in London, New York and Los Angeles, at Diffusion our passion is helping enterprise technology brands of all sizes to align and streamline their communications in the UK and US. While both markets are predominantly English-speaking, there are still plenty of differences in approaches to communications in each region and some key points to consider as a US tech firm launching into the UK and European market.
Big fish, different pond
According to Harvard Business Review, US tech firms are on average six years old before they open their first European office. As a mature technology company, the tears, tribulations and sheer hard-work of those first few start-up years may be distant memories. However, even as an established company launching into new markets requires a start-up mentality and that also applies to the communications approach.
If you are lucky enough to have established a strong reputation and high media profile in the US, that success will have built on C-level focus, a commitment of resource in the form of executive time and PR spend, over a number of years. The same expectations will apply to establishing and raising your profile in the UK. The fundamental cornerstones of any communication campaign, including building understanding and establishing key media relationships with spokespeople will need time and sustained investment in place to deliver results.
A strong PR launch into a new market will be essential to attract the best local talent, partners and investors, but driving lead generation will be a primary priority. This is where we find proper preparation and timing can pay dividends. Do you have a clear sense of your target prospects in your new market? Has the competitor landscape been mapped in sufficient detail and your proposition tweaked in response? At launch you may also not yet have a local sales team in place, in which case it will be important for your existing new business function to be primed to take advantage and convert the attention being generated from your launch PR campaign.
Consistency of vision
Even in the digital age, too many companies still make the mistake of running their communications efforts in country-by-country siloes, with little to no global strategy tying local approaches together. We’ve found that the enterprise technology brands who take a joined-up approach to global communications have stronger, more compelling stories to tell to local media and other stakeholders.
As Startups Magazine points out, one way to do this successfully is by appointing the same agency in both markets: “Many startups opt for the same PR agency in both [the US and UK], a move that more often than not, will deliver economies of scale as well as improved consistency of messaging.”
The human angle
With that said, anyone who’s tried to work with the concept of a ‘global press release’ will tell you that what works on one side of the Atlantic won’t necessarily translate on the other side. US and UK media tell different types of stories in different ways, but those differences can often be pretty nuanced – which is why you need PR experts in both markets with deep knowledge of the local media.
When it comes to enterprise technology, humanizing B2B communications is now a global trend, but US media are generally much more likely to cover pure corporate stories and product updates, whereas journalists from the UK will be looking out for a clear and compelling ‘human interest’ (read: consumer) angle of a business or technology story. This doesn’t mean you won’t get your consumer-centric research report covered in the US, but you may need to take a different approach to selling it in than in the UK.
Again, something which applies in all markets, but particularly in the UK is avoiding a ‘spray and pray’ approach to PR. After a certain threshold, the volume of announcements issued will be in inverse proportion to the quantity and quality of coverage generated. If it’s not entirely relevant to the UK media, they will not thank you for clogging up their inboxes with ‘FYI’ press releases.
This is particularly true when it comes to client wins and case studies – there will be limited appetite to cover contracts that don’t cover your new launch market, no matter how big the brand name. Local momentum will be driven by a steady stream of local contract win announcements, which is why commercially incentivizing your first new customers to provide testimonials is a no brainer in powering your PR programme to keep building your pipeline.
A local face on the ground
While an international perspective is always valued, in our experience US technology companies launching and establishing themselves in the UK, are best served with a media spokesperson who is ideally based in-market. UK journalists will place a premium on brands that can provide local context and insights and can demonstrate a deep knowledge of the UK business, tech and cultural landscape.
Where that isn’t yet possible, it’s critical your agency prioritizes developing detailed interview briefs and can hand-hold spokespeople through the entire interview process.
Simple processes, powerful measurement
While we’re fans of keeping unnecessary admin to a minimum (including eliminating timesheets and awkward servicing conversations from our lexicon entirely, as part of our deliverables-driven model), at Diffusion we know that a successful multi-region communications program relies on efficient processes.
But who wants to wade through separate activity reports, update calls and coverage books every month – all presented in different formats, measuring different metrics? The beauty of an integrated UK/US programme is that account admin can be shared across multiple markets, with combined reporting and activity updates helping to drive efficiency and lower costs, as well as ensuring consistency of measurement across regions.
Time on your Side
And when it comes to press office tactics like news hijacking, a well-oiled UK/US team can turn challenges like time differences to their advantage – for example, the UK team can be spotting opportunities and working them up into client statements ready to be picked up by the US team when they come online. No time wasted!
Read more about our services for Enterprise Technology companies here.