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The World is Less Global than You Think

By Helen Calthrop-Owen, Director of Technology, MSLGROUP London.

Tech companies are looking overseas to grow revenue but history shows even the largest brands can struggle internationally. Starbucks floundered in Australia due to preference for local boutique coffee houses; eBAY struggled in Asia, due in large part to competition from Taobao; and Tesco took its eye off the home market while trying to make it abroad, leading to UK profit warnings.

One area which might not be at the forefront of the planning cycle for world domination is a company’s PR needs but getting the communications right is especially important in the tech sector where copy cats are rife and differentiation can be small. Starting with an established brand will count in your favour but don’t assume that you can re-use the tactics that work at home.

Globe hands

Image source: Flickr

I can’t stress enough the importance of engaging local specialists to help advise on media relations – cultural differences often mean the world is far less global than you might think:

  1. Awkward silences – don’t assume local journalists will have strong English language skills. Spokespeople should be briefed to expect media to have pre-prepared questions that they will deliver verbatim during the meeting rather than the conversational style they might experience at home. Make sure he or she speaks slowly, without too much jargon and invest in some local language background materials that are shared in advance. If budget (and local culture) allows offer to bring in a translator. You will get coverage in top tier media but it will need careful handling before, during and after the interview to make sure the reporter is clear on what was said.
  2. Surviving stonewalling – I have lost count of the number of times a local PR team has told me “that won’t work here”. I learnt, however, that by listening and making a few minor adjustments to your plan, the project works perfectly well. It’s important to identify when something really won’t work in a market rather than it being simply a reluctance to try something new.
  3. Quality not quantity – Some countries have a seemingly endless number of technology publications. You could be dazzled by the volume of media hits in markets such as Russia or Hungary but some will simply be portals where PRs post clients’ news. Knowing which media matter is obviously key to impactful PR, rather than aimlessly delivering coverage by the barrel load that doesn’t reach your target audiences.

Succeeding in business has never been easy, but it seems today that there is an added complexity with the pace of change and the ‘always on’ world. Protecting your brand, and how it is perceived, should be a key part of your go-to-market strategy especially when you are making an unknown leap into international markets.

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Helen Calthrop-Owen


Helen Calthrop-Owen is the Director of Technology in MSLGROUP London. Contact to discuss how the team can help you with your digital communications and PR needs when launching into UK, Europe or EMEA emerging markets.