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Pitching journalists in other countries requires special sensitivity, but the same rules apply

Kylemore Abbey, Galway, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey, Galway, Ireland

If you’ve ever spent time pitching story ideas to journalists in other countries, you probably know how important it is to tailor your pitch with the culture of your target market in mind: if you’re sending press materials to the United Kingdom or Ireland, for example, be mindful of vocabulary and spelling differences. But pitching international media outlets is not as different from working with American journalists as you might think.

Most maxims of good PR apply uniformly the world over. Wherever they are, most journalists abhor the “spray and pray” approach: mass e-mailing the same pitch to a long list of reporters and editors. But if you’re taking the time to make a personalized pitch to a European journalist, there’s no need to be any less aggressive in following up than you would with an American media outlet, says Piaras Kelly, senior account manager for Edelman Dublin and the author of a popular blog about professional communications on the Emerald Isle. For example, while there’s nothing wrong with calling a European reporter the same day you sent a press release to him or her, you should ask yourself, “Is it worth a follow-up call in the first place?”  Kelly says. Save those calls for your most important pitches. But do make the effort find a local angle for each country you pitch, and maybe even set up a microsite with a URL in the local domain, such as .co.uk or .ie.

Piaras Kelly

Piaras Kelly

You may want to keep in mind that in countries with smaller media markets, journalists tend to be less specialized than their American counterparts. “In Ireland, we have a much smaller pool of media,” Kelly says, noting that few PR professionals are specialists either. His clients include companies in the tech, retail, legal and food sectors.

Reaching out to international journalists can seem daunting, if for nothing more than the sheer size of the media landscape: CisionPoint’s international media database contains more than 600,000 contacts around the world, with pitching tips and information about their beat coverage. But once you have honed in on which media outlets are likely to be most receptive to your pitch, the same basic rules apply: know your target’s beats, tailor your pitch to his or her interests, and be sure to explain the relevance of your client’s product or service to the audience. And if your client happens to be in the automotive industry, Kelly reminds you that in the UK and Ireland, the hood and the trunk are the bonnet and boot, respectively.

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