Richard Cook

17 December 2020

Over the course of nearly 30 years working in B2B Tech PR I have had the privilege of being hired, fired, sometimes re-hired and in one case re-fired, by some of the biggest multi-national B2B technology brands. I was part of the team in 2001 that launched Damovo, have since worked with giants including Equinix, NetApp and Rackspace and today we are proud to call Aptum, MobileIron and Logicalis clients.

One of the most important questions that most B2B CMO’s have to deal with is how to structure their international PR operations. There tends to be two polarities: work with a global team and global agency on a single brief, or, have a network of local teams with a footprint in each region.

Both of these options are problematic.

A single, monolithic international brief may work for more simple propositions, but bring in local complexities, such as compliance and regulation, differing verticals, partners and solutions, as well as local spokespeople, translations and media environments and things get messy, expensive and worse, ineffective. Global agencies may have one name on the door in every region, a lovely website and a slew of awards but often have different processes, skill levels, P&L’s and degrees of influence in each region.

Having a distributed PR network can also be a nightmare for a B2B brand. A lack of consistency in terms of effort and resources, coupled with local accountability easily ends up with everyone pulling in a different direction. Local briefs get the attention, whereas the global brief is all too often sacrificed.

There is no perfect solution, but having worked within, led, built and re-engineered a few, the most effective international B2B PR networks I have seen include the following elements:

  1. Strong central leadership with a clear global brief
  2. Consistent, multi-territory measurement (I am a strong advocate for Apollo Research’s share of voice reports, and also Trend Kite monitoring)
  3. A single lead agency in an advanced territory where the media landscape is complex and English speaking
  4. A network of local agencies that are the strongest in their respective regions
  5. Local spokespeople in region who have the support, skills and authority to act independently and have a direct relationship with their agencies
  6. Local teams who take the global brief and adapt and add to it to make it work in their specific country
  7. Regular communications and consistent reporting – we are big users of Monday.com don’t know where we would be without it
  8. Clear sign off and approval protocols
  9. Regularly updated issues management guidelines
  10. A universal evidence bank, style guide, company background, consistent biographies and other press office material

There are many other elements that go into building a successful international PR programme, but I have found these foundations to be essential. Fundamentally, PR should be about enabling business success. At Champion our clients use us to help them grow, but whether a brand is seeking to sell more products or services, attract investors or engage diverse audiences on a disparate international basis, the adage of being able to think global and act local is always true.

To learn more about how to best structure an international PR team, or to discuss how Champion can assist in growing your business, reach out to letstalk@championcomms.com