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"Crossing the Pond: Dos and Don'ts" (2-part series) Tough e-newsletterNovember/December 1998

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Crossing the Pond: Do's and Don'ts (1)

With volatility in world markets increasing, companies in Europe are looking to the United States for capital expansion as well as market expansion. US financial markets, however, should be approached carefully, deliberately, and with planning.

Jumping right in without adequate preparation and planning can prove to be a waste of time. CDB Research & Consulting and its parent, Creamer Dickson Basford Public Relations, both of which are part of the Havas Advertising network, have worked with European companies to provide insight, information, and assistance in approaching US financial markets. Here are a few things you should do:

Assess Your Awareness
1. You must establish a benchmark, a starting point from which your plans will emerge. Start by assessing your visibility.

  • In order to do this you must first identify all the audiences that you might want to approach: journalists who cover the industries or categories in which you operate, financial journalists and analysts who follow these industries or categories.
  • It is vital to determine how well-known you and your senior managers are. It will be a longer and more difficult road to travel if you are not as well known as you'd like to be, but it will be a true waste of resources if you are unprepared for the truth. You must find out the extent to which American journalists and analysts have heard of your company and the products and services for which you are known. It may not be the ones for which you'd prefer to be known!

Know Your Company's Reputation
2. Once you have established awareness and visibility, the next thing you must know is the reputation of your company, especially in the context of your industry or category.

  • Awareness is a necessary, but not sufficient quality. If your audience knows about your company and its senior management, but does not have a good opinion of them, it will not advance your cause. Knowledge of these opinions, in depth, will give you and your public relations firm the information you and they need to turn around misinformed or uninformed opinions.
  • In exploring your reputation, ask specifically about non-financial attributes such as commitment to research and development, customer satisfaction, and other characteristics that comprise your company's "hidden value." This information will give you and your public relations effort solid ammunition with which to establish a positive image among the media.
  • It is also important to establish your position against your competitors. This will also help you craft messages that will achieve your goals.

Motivating Journalists
3. Finally, and assuming you are planning a press conference, a media tour, or some other activities to capture the attention of the media, it is important learn how to motivate these journalists to respond to your plans.

  • In our work with offshore companies, we have learned that journalists will not attend a press conference just to meet the senior management of a company they know slightly or even well. There has to be something newsworthy to motivate them to take the time to attend your press conference. They must feel that they will be able to gain something, e.g., news.
  • It is not uncommon for journalists to request, even demand, exclusivity in exchange for a personal interview with your representatives or senior management. It is important to remember that the publishing business is very competitive, even for trade or industry publications. Journalists will spend time with you when they feel they will benefit directly.

Crossing the Pond: Do's & Don'ts (Part 2)

In the first part of this article in Journal 1.0, , Ann shared her perspective on companies in Europe who are looking to the United States for capital expansion as well as market expansion. US financial markets, she advised, should be approached carefully, deliberately, and with planning; jumping right in without adequate preparation and planning can prove to be a waste of time.

Things You Don't Do
Following her directions on things you should do, Ann concludes with recommendations on what you don't do; to avoid biases, underspending and rushed efforts:

1. Don't conduct the research or public relations yourself.

  • While it may be true that you know your business better than anyone else, you may not know the nuances of approaching American financial journalists, industry journalists, and analysts. An independent American consultant will help you gather the intelligence you require, and help you plan your approach.
  • A US firm, will be able to access the appropriate respondents more efficiently and effectively. They probably have contacts or relationships with journalists, which will make the first step much easier.
  • Being independent, without the biases that your in-house staff is bound to have, they are better able to give you a candid assessment of the situation. This is essential in order to craft effective strategies and messages.
  • A firm that is experienced at formulating strategic solutions to these challenges will ultimately be more helpful.

2. Do not try to short-cut the research and strategic planning process.

  • Trying to rush through research and strategic development may result in development of half the necessary information and half the necessary strategy. That could be a waste of time.
  • Insufficient time may mean that the researchers do not collect enough information, including secondary research on you, your competitors, financial markets; or that they do not collect information from the most important segment of your audience.
  • Rushing through a project like this may mean that insufficient time is devoted to the questionnaire development.

3. Do not underfund these efforts.

  • It is unrealistic to expect a $50,000 effort for $20,000. If necessary, you may need to obtain competitive bids, but beware the firm that underprices the project and then underserves the account. Not only that, it is more important that you have a firm that provides both research and media services, in order to maximize continuity.

Finally, when you have collected, analyzed, and digested all the information collected, you are ready to determine your strategy and develop your messages.

All tasks and events must eventually tie back to the strategy in order to communicate a consistent, coherent message to US financial analysts and journalists. Such a message will certainly attract their attention in a positive way.

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