Seven tips for developing an international PR strategy:
The concept of Guanxi – building a relationship – is at the heart of media relations in China, and will require you to devote time, and often physical presence to nurture. What sets Guanxi apart from the types of networks we are used to in the West is the strong sense of obligation inherent within it. Favours are always returned, possibly in the short term, possibly much, much later, but the initial act is never forgotten.
How would you best describe your institution to a US market that is likely to be unfamiliar with the leading universities and business schools beyond Oxford, Cambridge and INSEAD? You might want to start with a description that likens you to a major local player. Think ‘The MIT of Europe’, but remember to back up your claim. If one of your professors helped to split the atom, or found a cure for heart disease that is transforming lives in Massachusetts, then make sure that the journalist has an easy point of comparison with the leading universities in his or her market.
While Google, McDonald’s and the Olympics may enjoy global recognition, the research that your professor has done on the management style of a hip West Coast tech firm or leadership lessons from a character in Game of Thrones may be locally obscure, and need some adaptation.
Twelve months ago, the editorial team at Times Higher Education published a study that showed that UK universities were now welcoming more US students than Indian students. This is in part because the squeezed middle-class in America is increasingly struggling to afford the eye-watering tuition for a four-year undergraduate education. UK universities are by no means the cheapest alternative, but in relative terms they have a great story to share in the US market.
Role models that inspire international students and alumni are an ideal source of material to demonstrate a local connection with your target media market.
Let’s imagine that one of your professors has just published a piece on Swiss house prices, or a study of fund raising by startups led by women. How might this research be applicable to house prices in San Francisco, Sydney and Hong Kong? Are the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs any different to those in Manchester, Madrid or Milwaukee?
What can you do with those beautiful architectural plans that show the beautiful new campus building or research lab that should be ﬁnished by 2019? Western journalists might promise to come back to you when the building is ﬁnished and the ribbon has been cut. But in parts of Asia, a plan to build is already as good as done.