9 Jan 2015

Doing PR in France and in Europe in general

Anouk Jacob – Associate Director at Spreckley

The basic bread and butter of PR is probably more or less the same in most countries albeit a few like China and the likes but there are country specifics that many clients tend to oversee, especially when Continental Europe is placed under one hat.

Good PR is about building and maintaining professional networks. This means not only working with traditional and non-traditional media to obtain positive coverage: it means working with influencers, your customers, potential customers, and even your competitors to get the good word-of-mouth that drives sales and increases valuation. Our work is to enable our clients to connect with their audiences on a deeper, more meaningful level.

For PR in all countries, it is vital to have clear objectives of why you are doing PR and what you want out of it. If you want a European presence –great- but why? If it is because you plan on setting up an office, it is very likely that this approach won’t work. Why? Because it works the other way round. If you want your PR to be successful, you need to have already set up an office otherwise no media or influencer will believe in your commitment in that market. Working with local PR agencies may be the best approach in this sense.

Clients have a tendency of being very “Anglo” and this is definitely the first rule of doing good PR in France and the rest of Europe. LOCALISE: create local content, have a few local customers (and not global ones who happen to also deploy your product/solution in that market) that are willing to communicate even before you launch a PR strategy.

In France, if you want to meet media, you need BIG news, they don’t have the time for a simple informal one on one where the client can do a sales pitch. And the news needs to be bigger than “we’ve just opened an office here”. Press conferences, unless you’re a big brand with major news, don’t work either. There are many influential bloggers but the big ones now get some form of compensation, which is important to bear in mind.

There are numerous events and shows but most French journalists tend to not want to fix meetings as they enjoy the freedom of flexibility. If meetings are set up, there is a high chance that they won’t turn up (and won’t warn you either).

Analyst houses exist but there are few local ones and the big names are often based in the UK.

Awards and competitions are scarce and most agencies rarely deal with them, if there are any relevant ones, the Marketing team usually takes the lead.

Using celebrities is not a done thing at a consumer level, you are either lucky that they use your product or not!

One of the best pieces of advice I can share after having done over 10 years of PR in France is to choose your timing correctly: don’t do PR in May (there are 4 bank holidays that month and people tend to use their last holidays during that month as the system is France is from May to May) and the summer is out too (from at least mid July to just after mid August).

If approached correctly, French media are a pleasure to work with, with real sincerity and integrity and a unique style, n’est-ce pas.