How to successfully communicate your brand when scaling up in a new country? Enterie PR experts share their hints from their home markets. Today: Focus on France by Anthony Courtat from Com’ I/O
One of the major European markets, for foreign companies, may appear a bit hermetic, because of culture and language. We are talking about a country where people insist on saying “ordinateur” instead of more international “computer”. The opinion that French people do not know English is a stereotype, but it is true, that they often don’t like to use it. It is also said that French companies like to make business with other French companies. The simplest explanations of both are… because they can. The size of the market and French influence, relations and cultural impact in the world allows us to do so. No matter the reason – it may be a bit difficult for the rest of the globalizing world. It only emphasizes the significance of building good personal relations.
Public relations in France should be rather called personal relations, as the personal factor is crucial. One-on-one meetings with journalists and reporters, often in nice restaurants for lunch or dinner are one of the most important communication activities. So when entering the French market first you have to gain trust, meet with media, explain them your product or service, introduce yourself and the company. Then everything will go smoother.
It is very broad and very diverse. Surprisingly, there are not so many journalists, so they are also very busy. When you want to build relations with media – do it in Paris, because the French media landscape is completely centralized.
Most startups want to benefit from the fact, that they offer something new, bring something fresh to the market. And they are right, journalists always seek for novelties. Startups often see cooperation with media as cheaper than paid advertisements. At some point, it effects with a huge competition for media attention.
When pitching a story think what added value it can have for a journalist and readers. As technology is often difficult to explain, it is important to show how users can benefit from it, how it solves problems. It is always good to have a local case study or local testimonial, especially with b2b services and products. A journalist will be more happy to talk about your product with your client than to listen to your sales pitch.
Also remember to localize your communication on every level: language, content, relations, examples and stories.
Big US platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are most popular. Twitter is used by journalists and politicians, but also by celebrities and general audience, a bit like in the US. So it can also be applicable to communicate consumer services and goods, especially when you engage celebrities. As for consumer market – Instagram is now a must-have channel. In France, we put a lot of attention to design, fashion, esthetic – obviously nice visuals are very important.
For expert positioning, you may also have a look at medium.com – a platform which earned quite a popularity in France. This is a good place for thought leadership content, opinion pieces and sharing ideas.
Same as media landscape – it is rich and diverse. PR services are following businesses which they serve. Big corporations usually go with big network agencies, which are a “safe choice” for corporate management. All the big PR firms have offices in Paris.
Smaller companies usually seek smaller but more flexible providers – also in terms of contracting services and pricing. Disruptive businesses look for disruptive agencies. Sometimes hiring a freelancer is a good idea. However, when the company is scaling up, an only agency can gather a bigger team when needed.
In my opinion – in PR it is not the size what matters. It is consultants, their skills and relations what you pay for.
For a basic media relations, that is running a press office, dispatching press releases, arranging interviews and seeking opportunities to appear in media, a company will have to pay from 2500 Euros a month. It will be a bit more expensive in the case of B2C activities, as it is usually more difficult and more time to consume than targeting business audience.