How to Conquer the World: Lessons Learned from Global PR Campaigns

Running a global campaign is fraught with complexity, cost and cultural confusion. Increasingly, most organizations (from plucky start-up to major global corporation) are operating across borders and, often, in many corners of the world, which also means some form of global coordination is a necessity.

Here are some of the key lessons SHIFT has gleaned from working with our clients on global campaigns:

  1. Be Methodical About SpendDo not try and make spend calculations based purely on your U.S. spend.  The population of the U.S. is roughly equivalent to that of the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain combined, and while agency retainer levels do tend to be lower in these markets, the complexity of a pan-European campaign means the budget can quickly get out of hand. The key is to identify key global markets and investigate thoroughly how much a top notch PR partner in these markets is going to set you back.
  2. Pick your Agency Teams on Exacting, Standardized Criteria, Not Just the Same Logo – Even if your agency team in the U.S. is an ambrosial joy to work with, it doesn’t mean their office in Manila or the one partner they recommend will do a great job for you. If you’re working with a behemoth, investigate outside options as well as their office for your new regions. If you’re working with independent agencies, be sure to evaluate numerous options. A good agency partner at home will be kind enough to recommend several options and be frank about their strengths and weaknesses gleaned from other joint campaigns.Be sure to ask about current info on agencies as well. People always want to recommend based on a positive experience. But a lot can change in two or three years in agency land, so ask for the latest info or dig deeper.
  3. Collaborate to Accumulate (Coverage) – So, you’ve built out your capabilities in different markets. What next? Set up a global call and watch the good times roll? No, no, no. A thousand times no! You need to put in place tools for information sharing as well as the navel-gazing calls. Build out clear rules for information sharing. Create a Google Docs folder or similar and have teams upload all new content into various folders. If you want to see voluminous output, add a competitive element by ensuring that all document titles lead with the country of origin first.That’s not to be dismissive of global calls. They are critical, but often a slow descent into lethargy ensues.  Charge yourself or a team member by holding everybody to account on why they are sharing information and also challenge the listeners to offer thoughts on what they will do with that information.  Retain a laser focus on keeping energy levels up and running a super tight agenda.  A scorecard on successful cross-regional collaboration can help everybody stay on task.
  4. Find a Gatekeeper – When your own time is precious, it can be highly difficult to wrangle all of the reporting and content coming in from multiple regions.  Assign your most trusted agency partner or regional representative to standardize reporting and track against program goals. Invest in this process so it doesn’t distract from your core in market PR program activities.
  5. Localize Expectations – Reporting needs to be unified, but it also needs to be reflective of challenges specific to each country, such as number of reporters and outlets and prevalence of a payforplay culture. For example, it might be easier to set up inperson briefings or get reporters to attend an event in the UK than Stateside, given the concentration of media in and around London. Set your targets accordingly while also pushing teams to go the extra mile.

While the prospect of orchestrating or reorganizing a global campaign seems at first like a gray-hair inducing, waking nightmare, it can be tackled through a thoughtful and collaborative approach that reduces the strain on the marketing or global comms lead.

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