By Doug Shields
It flies in the face of what many would have us believe, but the British news industry can still lead the way around Europe, both in terms of reputation and influence.
With print and online operations now running comfortably side-by-side – they also provide an effective springboard for PR campaigns aimed at wider European markets and audiences.
In the last six months we have worked on a number of projects which were ‘born’ in the UK, but which were designed to create aftershocks across Europe.
Working closely with some of the country’s biggest brands and PR firms, we were able to flex our creative muscles and come up with big ideas to carry the client’s key messaging across the channel.
One example is our recent pan-European beard study for Braun with infographic – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3136012/Most-popular-beards-UK-revealed-hairy-men-outnumber-clean-shaven-counterparts.html
Running a substantial piece of International research is the logical starting point, but the idea has to be right. Most of the research or PR-led news which makes the British papers and online news platforms, day in and day out, is based on quirks of British nature or stereotypes which have existed for generations.
But these go out of the window when you need an idea which has the potential to reach a countries which are further afield.
So you have to consider topics and areas of interest which are globally recognised – human-based, not based on British stereotypes – after all very few countries have the traditions and cultures like ours.
This requires an in-depth and intelligent thought process, and an idea which has legs to make as much of an impact in Europe as it does in the UK.
Once you have decided on your idea, you need to consider the number of respondents required to get your story over the line. Lighter stories can usually get away with fewer respondents, while heavier ones need more weight, so bulk up your survey if you’re addressing a more serious issue.
If the story is of a niche demographic, you need fewer respondents. We worked on story involving the ten questions which are guaranteed to leave a cab driver yawning and shaking his head. Belters such as ‘What time do you finish?’ and ‘Busy today?’. We polled 55 cabbies – but the story made four papers.
International studies are a different kettle of fish – you need at least 1,000 per market. If the Telegraph call and ask you how many respondents in Spain were polled, you don’t want to say ‘Twelve’. So make sure you have a nice chunky number to satisfy the sub-editor – and a regional breakdown on countries will give country specific regional PR opportunites – so choose a polling company that can offer decent regional breakdowns within the country you are polling.
Launching your story abroad before the UK sell-in is a no-no, unless the client insists on it. The danger is that if your story drops on a news-desk and the editor you talk to Googles it and finds it has done the rounds in other countries, there is a chance he may feel it’s old. So give it a nice early morning push – on a wire and by hitting the phones – and watch it fly.