Insights into onboarding a new multi-country client
At the end of 2021, we won an exciting new client - a global plant-based meat brand - to deliver PR across Europe, starting with five countries – UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, managed by a central hub. It’s been a fantastic journey so far - helped by a very smart, friendly and open client. However, setting up five countries to activate and produce results quickly isn’t without its challenges.
There is a lot to do and consider when setting up multi-market PR teams - building the right team with the right skill set and personalities to suit the brand and client; setting up the account - the processes and the framework; building and delivering the PR plan and localising this across markets; delivering great work and results, not to mention finding a cadence that works for your client and your agency team.
Below are a few suggestions to help set up successful multi-country PR teams, based on our learnings over our 16 years in business running multi-market programmes from Japan to Africa to the Nordics.
(Really) getting to know each other - With different teams in different markets there’s a lot to consider - culture nuances, individual personalities, different ways of working or approaches. Some markets traditionally work faster than others, others slower, some are more reserved in working style than others - but this is what makes multi-market work interesting. Taking time to understand each local team's working style and embracing it is important to fostering a great working relationship.
Collaboration is key - Very often with multi-market set ups, it can feel like the hub is just a broadcasting channel for delivering client comms. With this client, we have worked closely with each market and the client to create highly localised content and activity that has landed particularly well, while still being on-strategy and telling the overarching brand story. Working closely with in-market teams to gain local insights produces better quality of work and is the key to winning at a local level. It also helps build client understanding and trust if you take them on the journey with you.
Autonomy within a framework - While effectively managing a number of countries efficiently means working within a tight framework and process, there needs to be a certain level of agility and autonomy within that framework to allow the local countries to shine and to operate in a way that works for them. By giving that autonomy and a voice leads to greater ideas, value sharing and ultimately better results.
Keeping processes simple - Obviously, process is highly important in a multi-market set up, but how much process is a good thing, before it becomes complicated, time consuming and not very cost effective? Luckily, our client is all about focusing on getting activity away to garner results, and as a result, we have set up some simple processes that keeps activity streamlined but is not too onerous for the teams to stick to. A lovely quick guide to the account in the form of a short handbook has kept processes on track with ease.
Sharing is caring - Sharing ideas, best practices and content across the 5-country network can really reap benefits. It not only saves time and keeps stories and messaging cohesive, it also fosters a sharing culture and an engaged network, allowing insights and ideas to flow from all corners.