(continuation of the previous post: How to take a PR campaign international)
Assuming you’ve selected your various media channels carefully, you will immediately be confronted with another challenge: how to successfully interact personally with a foreign audience.
Even if you have, or have access to, expertise in the local language, local pop-culture references, or even nuances such as sarcasm, can be extremely difficult for a non-native speaker to spot. These little differences in language apprehension can make a huge difference, and will nearly always be spotted. Any poor communication resulting from this could destroy your authority in the region.
For this reason, interacting with the local media is often a task for a local communications expert who understands cultural nuances. This depends somewhat on the region, so you’re best-off getting advice, but, in short, never assume that you can interact with the press directly until a credible PR professional actually tells you that you can.
Engaging with an agent
Whether or not you need an agent or agency, depends on the scope of your campaign, the region you’re targeting and the time zone.
If you’re planning an infrequent level of activity in a foreign country it is sometimes possible to interact with the press remotely. Again, this depends on the exact region. To pick a few random examples, (and to generalise), Ireland, the U.S., Germany, the Nordic countries, and Taiwan, would be fairly receptive to pitches of an English-speaking agent; whereas countries like France, Spain, and Japan, (to pick a random selection) aren’t. If you want to make a big impact in a market and build close relationships with the media then a local agency is required.
It makes sense to engage with a lead agent that can speak the common language of your various target territories, as well as having the nous to co-ordinate groups of international agencies. Europe-based PR agents have traditionally tended to have particularly good credentials in agency management, are conveniently placed on the prime meridian, and tend to have in-depth knowledge of the lingua franca of business.
However, bear in mind, there are regions which are simply located too far to successfully engage with from your home base. The time difference between a Europe-based company and Australia is likely to impede the communication process. One challenge is that both spokespeople and their PR representatives would have to commit themselves to be ready to interact with the foreign media at antisocial hours of the day.
Finally, engaging a local PR agent in regions as Korea, the U.S. and Japan brings in some budget implications as these countries’ agent fees are generally considerably higher than in the EU.