A PR Playbook for B2B Techs Expanding into the US
By Richard Etchison, Senior Account Manager and Content Specialist
A high-growth B2B tech company that has successfully made a mark in Europe and is ready to enter the US market has a mammoth undertaking ahead. The US market differs from Europe for a variety of reasons, and its media landscape works differently. With so many companies and thought leaders vying for space, reporters are typically even more selective in the sources they choose to include and stories they highlight. There are fewer publications to pitch and a more competitive media landscape.
As such, in the US the focus is more on quality of exposure rather than sheer quantity. A comprehensive integrated communications and PR program is a key component of introducing a brand to the US and laying the groundwork for a successful expansion. Here are some best practices and fundamentals we have gleaned from helping B2B tech clients navigate the challenging nuances of the US media market to make the big move across the pond.
Get your message house in order
A big move like an expansion into a foreign country is a good time to revisit your existing messaging framework and make some refinements to reflect the new communications objectives as well as the new geography. The company needs to know who and what it wants to be in the US, and how it is different from the competition.
It’s wise to adapt your current PR messaging house document to the US market, since the US media narratives will look decidedly different. If a company does not yet have a master messaging house, a move to the US is a good excuse to produce one. A messaging house is a master comms bible of sorts in which a company codifies how it communicates with its target audiences. It’s a great starting point for your in-house PR team or B2B PR agency to clearly depict your mission, vision, goals, how you’ll achieve those goals in the US market, differentiating the company in a crowded landscape.
Get PR boots on US ground for local media relations
A European B2B tech firm hoping to make waves in the US needs communication boots on the ground in the states. The PR professionals wearing those boots must be fully plugged into the US mediascape, its customs, its journalists, and trending conversations. A productive partner knows the media landscape inside and out, is meeting with reporters regularly, and can conduct media relations from key geographic areas where the media are.
The company should designate media spokespeople specific for the US market, and they should be dynamic executive leaders based in the US office. One of the first tactics for expanding into the US is to set up some introductory meetings with the media and analysts.
Take an integrated communications approach
For those rising companies that dare take their B2B talents to America, we recommend an integrated communications approach to build engagement with new audiences. We favor a holistic combination of PR, social and web strategy, including foundational SEO work to support differentiating a company in a crowded landscape. Preferably, the B2B has something shiny to attract media attention, since even a well-known UK company’s move into the North American region is not necessarily newsworthy on its own merit. Ideally, the company is also announcing a triple digit multi-million-dollar money raise, a big acquisition, or an iconic new CEO. In either case, the grand entrance should not merely consist of a press release without a fully conceived integrated communications program.
Leverage the American marquee client
Just as important as having an American office address is having a big-name American client success story to tell. While not mandatory to move into the US, the ability to trumpet a major US client is an excellent way to announce your arrival. While a client success narrative may not be enough to win media coverage on its own, naming a known brand client in the announcement will confer more credibility.
Additionally, featuring the client case study in communications and marketing content like the US web page, blog posts, LinkedIn, other social media, and awards will build SEO, attract more eyeballs, and drive leads. If a company is moving into the US market on the back of a new, big-name US client or partner, hitching your cart to their brand name is a great way to announce expansion.
Take the podium and hoist the trophy in the US
Other prongs of a comprehensive integrated communications program are conference speaking and industry awards, particularly important for B2B tech firms to win that implicit third party endorsement and insert your brand voice into industry discussions. The company should enter that dazzling US client case study in US-specific industry award programs.
It should also dip its toes into executive awards, workplace culture, and revenue growth awards to raise the visibility of its brand, attract talent, and win credibility for its product/service, thus elevating it into the higher consideration set for B2B buyers. Executive speaking engagements at relevant sector conferences can begin building thought leadership authority and introduce the executive’s and the company’s brand to American peers.
The differences between the US and European markets go well beyond English spelling divergences between digitization and digitisation. Before making the crossing, a European company must know its sector’s ecosystem and must know the US media landscape within that sector; and it must know how it can best communicate its differentiation and value proposition. But if your B2B tech can make solid expansion announcements as part of a comprehensive integrated communications program shepherded by an agency with US presence, which helps build a steady drumbeat of earned media, content, and engagement, then it can crack the US market.
If your company in considering a move into the US market, give us a shout to explore the possibilities.