This blog post is part of a series leading up to our webinar: “Five fundamentals of a cyber security PR program in EMEA”. To attend, sign up today.
‘EMEA’ is a big place. There are 44 countries in Europe, 54 in Africa and 16 in the Middle East (depending on how you count them). So, when you are asked to construct a PR campaign in EMEA you’ll need to get a lot more specific about what this exactly means.
This is especially important when it comes to budget. One of the most common issues I have when I consult with US cyber security businesses is a desire to cover more countries than their budget can realistically achieve.
Typically, the company board will list a number of countries in the EMEA region where they wish to increase sales. Then the head of marketing will be given a singular budget and told to devise a campaign that includes those target countries.
The first difficulty to overcome is mindset. People think EMEA PR will be one single campaign. In reality every country has its own media and often its own language – EMEA is not singular but very fragmented. Your budget will need to be split between each target country, and this reduces the economies of scale.
Secondly, the cost of doing public relations varies significantly between each country. The UK, Germany or France are larger countries with a greater diversity of media publications. It therefore follows that a greater spend will be needed in these countries over ones that have a much thinner media landscape to target. Furthermore, salaries of PR specialists vary considerably in different parts of EMEA. This also has a big impact on the budget that you need to allocate and must be carefully considered.
Often, the temptation will be to stick with the assigned target list of countries and only allow for a slim budget in each geography. Unfortunately, this is a worse than useless approach. Below a certain threshold, the PR agency that you have appointed simply will not have enough budget to make inroads to build relationships, develop stories, and secure the type of coverage you want to see. You will then face serious questions on the ROI from your internal stakeholders.
So, what can you do with a limited budget to achieve maximum results?
1) Be prepared to push back
Set out what is realistic to the board from the start. Marketing and public relations cannot be everywhere at once, it needs to be targeted. If they still insist, be bold. Do your research and speak to potential partner agencies to figure out what it will really cost. Push back and put forward the best way to get the best results.
2) Flexing between retainers and projects
Long-term success depends on building relationships with journalists and this takes time. So, PR agencies will say that they need the same retainer month in, month out. However, you can still flex. Look at having a base line retainer in target countries but then have the flexibility to put some booster project funding in at specific times of the year. This could be around an upcoming event, a significant white paper that you are publishing etc. This will help maximise coverage levels and give extra resource for when it matters.
3) Focusing on target publications, rather than target countries
You could also consider bringing together a top target list of 20 or so publications. These would be the most significant media channels that align with your business goals, hit your target audience etc. You can then allocate budget to focus on reaching these publications in a more direct way. This can sometimes help in keeping the budget focused and reducing the number of PR agencies that you need to appoint. However, this tends to be more useful to help you manage expectations internally about what you can achieve. Ultimately, you can’t escape the fact that with a limited budget, media coverage will have a limited role in the success of the wider business objectives.
Sign up to our webinar on launching EMEA PR campaigns to explore the issue of budgets as well as the other top headaches and considerations that you will need to address to guarantee success.