Article Written by Catherine Cheong, Copywriter at Verztec Consulting
When your company expands into a foreign market, public relations can give your business growth the extra momentum it needs. While advertising is effective in raising the visibility of your company and brands in the market, it is really public relations that establishes your credibility. After all, people tend to believe messages in the media that have not been paid for more than paid ones.
How can public relations add value to your business in a new country? Let us examine the ways:
In a foreign market, you are inevitably competing against more established rivals at the beginning. It makes no difference whether your company is larger or more sophisticated in your home country or globally. The other brands are known and trusted here. Yours is not. Thus, there is a greater need to build on your credibility in a new country.
Through public relations, you can position company executives as experts in your field and attract media attention. When your company is quoted in published articles, people will see it as possessing the know-how to meet their needs. The same applies when your company executives speak at an industry conference or participate in panel discussions at these events. Your company would not be given the opportunity to enjoy such a high profile at the conference unless it is seen as a credible player in the industry by the organizer.
Applying for local awards also builds prestige for your company if it wins or earns recognition as a finalist. Many trade journals, government agencies, and professional associations sponsor annual “best of” award programs. In fact, winning a local award within the first year is one of the best ways to penetrate a market. Nothing excites people more about a product or service, or gets them to try it out, than when it is recognized by others as both novel and effective.
Educating Potential Customers
In a foreign market, the benefits of your products and services may not be as readily apparent due to different lifestyles, habits, common practices etc. A newspaper ad or TV commercial will only have enough space/time to list these benefits. Public Relations goes beyond this to explain them in detail. Through media interviews and article placements, the company can present facts, figures and scientific studies to educate potential clients on the superiority of their products and services. Interest can further be generated around the latest studies or trends to highlight the urgency of resolving or preparing for certain problems through the use of your company’s product or service.
If your product or service is the first of its kind in this market, it is not only important to interest potential customers in them but also to teach them how to use and incorporate them into their lifestyle or current practices. In such cases, a more lengthy PR campaign is necessary because more customer guidance and support is required.
Your company will have to build business relationships from scratch when you enter a foreign market. In addition to customers, this extends to the media and stakeholders like the regulatory authority, industry associations etc. To this end, your company might want to consider newsletters or blogs to engage the different groups of audiences on a continual basis. Participation in industry or community events is another avenue, along with the organization of special events. Examples of the latter include client parties, charity fund-raisers, open-house visits to your factory and public celebrations of company milestones such as your firm’s anniversary.
Attracting Investors and Partners
Business expansion is always a costly undertaking. To attract investors and franchisees in a foreign market, it is imperative that your company is seen as solid with strong profitability potential. By presenting your company as an authority quoted by the media and invited by the industry for speaking engagements, you show potential backers you are well-endorsed and supported by independent parties. Better yet, an ongoing public relations campaign helps your company craft an image as a long-term player in your business, rather than someone who is testing the waters and may not stick around. Investors like to see this type of commitment.
Public Relations may be an effective tool in your market penetration strategy. But how do you build on current public relations efforts when you expand your operations into another country? Follow this blog for the next article in this series.