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How to rock the German market

5 points for a successful PR strategy in Germany

By Tilo Bonow, CEO and founder of Berlin-based PR agency Piabo

After launching in the US market, the next milestone for many US companies is conquering foreign markets such as Europe. With Germany being the economic powerhouse of the European Union, its capital Berlin presents an attractive environment for expansion – the economic mood is positive and the startup scene is booming.

But even though US and German market mechanisms are similar, the media landscape is quite different. Strategies that work in the US might fail in Germany. Here are 5 points that you should consider for success with German media:

  1. Press releases: German journalists aren’t used to marketing lingo in press releases. Don’t fill your copy with self-praise – this will ruin the credibility of the message. Instead, objectively stick to the facts. If you’re not sure, ask local PR specialists for help with translating not just the language, but also the message. And by the way, in Germany we use press releases not just for major corporate announcements, but for frequently keeping our journalists updated on a company.
  1. Location, location, location: The media landscape in Germany is very decentralised. Editorial staff are not only placed in major media cities such as Berlin, Munich or Hamburg. Cities like Cologne, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf are also home to important publishing houses and journalists. If you don’t want to organise a lengthy, country-wide media tour, a good way to meet many editors in one place is at trade shows.
  1. Stay safe: Data protection should be treated with particular caution in German PR. German audiences are much more sensitised to privacy-related issues than US audiences. A good briefing before interviews as to what should be communicated is essential to avoid a PR disaster.
  1. Placing Bylines is tricky: While in the US it’s common practice to place bylined articles, this is not the case in Germany. Our authors want to keep their autonomy and it’s hard work to persuade them to feature a guest article. So keep up the regular dialogue and position your spokesperson as an expert on a topic.
  1. Copy approval: Last but not least: Before publishing an interview, German journalists often ask for copy approval and in most cases decide in favour of the companies. Good for you, because this will help you to control the company’s PR message.

Sounds complicated? It’s not! If you have a good product or service, then positive coverage is only a matter of time and, of course, skillful PR work in Germany. If Germany is one of the springboards for European expansion – next to London, let’s say – it is a good idea to find an agency with an international network of partners that can help you conquer Europe by storm.