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Making global PR briefs work in a local market

The development of a single marketing or PR campaign that will work in many different markets requires the right approach from planning to execution. As companies become increasingly streamlined and develop global communications strategies it is nevertheless important to implement activity in a manner which is suitable for the local market. The best communications strategies reflect the core beliefs of the company and for that reason it makes sense for companies to develop relevant communications campaigns that are imbued with the beliefs of the company.

According to Louise Sullivan, Director of External Communications for Kellogg Europe, trying to make the same campaign work across multiple markets can be challenging as good PR needs to be locally relevant, “From my experience of running a centrally-led, locally-activated brand PR approach, it has become clear that the creative idea needs to be developed with the activation markets in mind. Involving local teams in the ideation process in order develop plans that are fit for purpose is a must.”

When it comes to planning and executing local PR campaigns and activations, there are a number of things which we always bear in mind.


Borrow with pride

As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. While it is important recognise opportunities to put a local stamp on a campaign, if there are aspects of a campaign that worked well in another market it is important to consider using these tools locally. You will benefit from the other markets trouble-shooting and may even be in a position to borrow collateral or materials, thus saving time and money.


Timing is everything

In-market dates will sometimes mean that the campaign may need to go live in different markets at different times. It is important to be aware of timelines and consider any threat of bleed-through from a neighbouring market. This is particularly pertinent in Ireland, as very frequently UK news stories also land in Irish media. Where possible, align the launch of a campaign with your nearest neighbours and at a minimum, be aware of the timing of their PR execution.


Recognise limitations

Working to a global PR brief for the Irish Market requires that you identify any stumbling blocks and look for ways to overcome them. If from the outset there is an area that is less relevant to, or less developed in, the Irish market it is important to flag this and adapt the communications plan accordingly. According to Louise Sullivan, “Spotting opportunities to put a local spin on the campaign is vital.  But equally, it’s important to recognize when a campaign is not going to work. Sometimes one size does not fit all – and when this happens, we shouldn’t continue to try to force a round peg into a square hole.”


Adapt as necessary

Each market has a different media landscape and as a result will have its own way of dealing with local media. It is important to remember what works for you market and adapt materials as necessary. Paddy Comyn, Head of PR for Volkswagen Group Ireland says that the Irish market, and specifically the Irish car market, is something that has to be handled differently and this is something that can sometimes be hard to explain to colleagues in Germany, “It is very important that we distill what can be very technical information and quite formally written copy into something a little bit more relaxed, yet professional for the Irish palate. We, together with MCsquared for Volkswagen tend to focus on writing press releases in a manner that we realistically feel they might appear. The modern journalists can be very time poor, so giving them the information in usable, jargon-free fashion can mean the difference between our message running or not.”


Add some local magic

The best way to make a global campaign work in a local market is to make sure that you bring something fresh to the table at the planning phase. Consider how the campaign will work best in Ireland and think about why it may be more relevant in this market, what unique points can the Irish market bring to the table? Can you localise the campaign with a relevant Irish ambassador or some local research? This is something which Louise Sullivan recognises when rolling out PR campaigns for Kellogg’s across Europe, “The toolbox plan needs to leave room for the local markets to adapt it and make it bigger and better, bringing in local insights to make it really resonate.  The creative idea should lend itself to this approach, and so should the budgeting approach – local amplification doesn’t come for free.”


Engage with local stakeholders

Emphasising the relevance of a campaign in a local market can sometimes be a challenge. Particularly if the activity is less well established locally. Engaging or partnering with local stakeholders allows you to demonstrate the real impact of the campaign locally. This is particularly helpful when activating CSR campaigns. If outputs have a real impact in Ireland the campaign will always be more newsworthy and of more interest locally.


The key thing about effective local activation is to play to your strengths, both local and global. Identify what you need and what you don’t – success will lie in your selection.


Niamh McCarthy

Niamh McCarthy

Account Director

This article was published in Marketing Magazine, Volume 26. No 5

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