Coordinating a PR program in a foreign country may seem like a daunting task.
There are several layers that can add to the complexity of handling PR efforts overseas, such as implementing the program from afar, dealing with different time zones and overcoming language barriers. However, while it may be intimidating, there are ways to make these challenges less daunting.
Understand the market you are trying to penetrate.
It may be a challenge to read up on current events and interests in France if you do not speak French, so do your best to find resources on your target market in your native language. You never know what you might find. Many of the top U.S. newspapers have international publications and may lead you in the right direction.
Consider the country’s culture.
For example, if you are visiting London and your goal is setting up reporter meetings, it may be best to ask the reporter if they could meet for tea, rather than a cup of coffee. Think about when that country takes breaks during the day and when they get to work and go home. The only country that functions exactly like the United States is the United States. Reporters, overseas colleagues and potential business contacts will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Adapt to the location’s time zone.
It may be a bit inconvenient, but you will need to adjust your schedule for a few days to ensure you stay on track. As easy as it may seem to keep up with another time zone, it will trick you when you least expect it. Keep your phone on the entire day and night, and check your emails as they come in, even if it happens to be midnight when you receive them. Midnight to you may be 9 a.m. to your client overseas.
It is inevitable that someone’s cell phone and email won’t work, a fax won’t reach the right person or you will experience the dreaded last minute meeting cancellation by a reporter. Be prepared to expect the unexpected. Before you leave, have a contact sheet with everybody’s phone number, mobile number, address, fax number and email address, and share it with the team working on the PR program. Always include the contact information of the business and reporter contacts you may be working with as well. Manage expectations ahead of time and have a backup plan. You can never be too prepared.