Just as business laws differ in Germany and the United States, so do public relations services and practices. But typically overseas businesses make false assumptions about PR based on their home market experience. Some advice: research and learn before you start PR in the U.S.
Here are five key differences:
- The U.S. is huge. Its population is almost four times larger than Germany’s and its area is about 25 times larger. It’s no surprise that the number of American media outlets is much larger than in Germany.
- From torte to tostados to tempura. As an indication of America’s wide diversity, 350 languages are spoken here, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, 21 had a minimum of 200,000 native speakers.
- PR is a strategic function in the U.S. In many countries, PR is still defined as the way senior management broadcasts messages to the public. However, Americans use PR to listen as well as to speak. Corporate communications departments counsel top management and develop messages, they don’t just deliver them. A 2012 PR News survey found that 35 percent of top U.S. corporate communications positions report directly to the CEO.
- PR services cost more in the U.S.
All of the factors above lead to higher costs. European companies often budget too little for U.S. PR to get results. One way to deal with this is to narrow the audience to top priority people, such as thought leaders, or those in a certain narrow demographic, such as grandparents or single women. Big Data can help with this.
- U.S. communication is informal. Most Germans are much more reserved than Americans. They expect to be called by their last names, but Americans want to be called by their first names. Promotional communications is more overt and flashy in the U.S. American marketers make boastful claims about their products – the biggest, best or newest. In Germany, marketing is more subtle.
German companies should spend adequate time and money on U.S. market research. American consultants can help, and you can learn a lot from them. They’ll be eager to help you learn. Not doing your homework makes the U.S. market very risky.
Lucy Siegel ist Gründerin der Agentur Bridge Global Strategies, die zum integrierten Kommunikationsunternehmen Didit gehört. Didit Communications, Didit’s full-service PR-Agentur in New York, unterstützt internationale Unternehmen auf dem U.S-Markt. Bridge Global Strategies ist Mitglied des internationalen Agenturnetzwerks PRBI.
Dieser Beitrag ist der vierte Teil unserer internationalen Gastbeitragsserie Grenzgänger, in der Autoren aus unserem Netzwerk Einblicke in die Besonderheiten der PR in anderen Ländern geben. Hier finden Sie den ersten Beitrag der Reihe zu Media- & Blogger-relations in Österreich. Und im zweiten Beitrag der Reihe erhalten Sie hier Informationen zur italienischen Kommunikationslandschaft. Im dritten Beitrag erhalten Sie Einblicke in Healthcare-Kommunikation in den USA.