Multinational companies often face the challenge to distribute news from the headquarter based in foreign countries e.g. in the USA in other markets – with other languages – as well. However, running the English piece through google translater and brush up the language a little bit, won’t do the trick. For making an adaption work properly, it needs to be way more than just a simple translation. Obviously the language is very important, but also some other aspects have to be kept in mind:
- Topic: Before adapting the press release one question needs to be answered: “Is this news really relevant for my market?” Spreading news from the US headquarter does not always make sense, because not all topics are also relevant in markets like Germany, and sometimes a solution is just not available outside the US .
- Structure: US press releases often start off very “softly” before getting to the point. These introductions – platitudes, trend-analyses or the like – in the first paragraph(s) can be quite deterring for the German media. German journalists spend very little time on deciding whether a news piece is interesting to them or not. A press release which does not get to the point quickly won’t catch the attention of a German journalist and falls through the cracks. Therefore, in German press releases don’t waste any time and space: What’s most important, comes first!
- Marketing-Talk: In a professional environment, Germans in general present theirselves more reserved than for examples US-Americans. The praising of products and services with superlatives is a taboo to German media. Every provider or manufacturer claims that his innovations are “unique” and that its success will be “unprecedented”. The challenge lies in stressing the actual benefits, without turning the German message into sweet talk oder adulation.
- Quotations: US press releases often contain a lot of quotations that – basically – all say the same. For a successful localization, it is more useful to offer not more than one or two quotations (which cover all important messages) coming from a regional (!) speaker.
- Customer References: The best testimonial of a satisfied customer is worthless, if the corresponding company is completely unknown in the target country. Therefore it makes sense to make use of less, but local references – in Germany from the DACH-region or at least from internationally well-known companies.
In Germany, claiming to be “the leading provider” of anything should be proved. Because this is a rather difficult undertaking (e.g. because of lacking evidence and information) it is more secure to position oneself of being “one of the leading providers”. On another note: There is no need for (registered) trademark references and legal disclaimers in Germany.
If you want to know why uniform communication does not work have a look at my colleague’s blog post covering examples of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The rules for the “DACH” region or for the US also apply to other countries. Despite the geographical proximity, press releases from France, Italy or Spain cannot simply be translated into German – at least, if you want to get positive attention from a maximum of journalists.
Markets can be compared just as little as you can compare apples to oranges. This is why PR professionals should not try to capture the attention of the local press with news that were obviously written for another target market. Hence, for adequate localization not only perfect foreign language competence is absolutely crucial, but also detailed knowledge of the local markets and industries.