Q&A with PAN Communications’ Global Agency Partner, Berkeley Communications

Phil Carpenter

Phil Carpenter, Executive Vice President at PAN Communications, sits down with one of PAN’s global partners, Berkeley Communications. Berkeley is a story driven technology PR and communications agency based in The South of England, Berkshire, London, and Germany. Phil and CEO of Berkeley Communications, Chris Hewitt, discuss some of the major differences in B2B technology communications between U.S. and England, including: tech PR, media relations, integrated marketing, and the challenges that American companies face trying to make their way over to the British market.

Chris Hewitt Berkeley CommunicationsWhat do you see as the biggest differences in B2B tech PR between the United States and the U.K.?

There is no question that within North American culture is embedded a strong sense of positivity – certainly when compared to the more reserved Brit. This fundamental cultural difference does manifest in stories that may appear in the media. For example, positive news about a company raising funds from investors may appeal to many US media, but we see hardly any equivalent stories in the UK. The UK media does like a negative story by and large. So, if you want to announce the launch of a new product in the UK, be warned. But when you dramatize the problem your product solves? – now you’re talking!

Some of our readers may already be operating in European markets like France or Germany. How does tech PR differ in the U.K. versus in those countries?

There is no doubt that major European economies like France, Germany, and the UK have a lot of common interests. Although arguably with Brexit, it may not appear that way.  To a large extent, we find that centralized content created for these three countries can be produced successfully, but input from a local national is a vital part of the process. It’s not just a matter of translation, but rather adaptation. While the Brits like drama (see above), so too do the French and Germans. But we find the Germans want much more detail and are facts-and-figures-driven whilst the French will always insist on an angle very specific to their local market.

In the U.S., there is currently a strong emphasis on integrated marketing and PR programs. Is this similar in the U.K.?

Very much so. We are driven by the success of our clients, which means harnessing the power of storytelling across all channels.

How do you think the agency landscape differs in the U.K. from that of the United States?

I'm not sure it does differ that much. The closer I have come to know US agencies the more I have found how similar we are.

What would you say would be your top two to three PR tips for American tech companies looking to enter the U.K.?

  • Don’t treat the UK media (or rest of Europe) like the US media. The storytelling is quite different.
  • Be very clear that your brand message resonates and be consistent with it in lots of different, creative ways.
  • Don’t get hung up on the channels. Get hung up on great content; the rest is a matter of distribution.

What would you say would be the biggest PR mistake that you see American companies making when they enter the U.K.?

Treating the UK like an extension of the US.

Interested in learning about PANGlobal? Visit our website here and find out how we work with our global partners on integrated strategies. Also check out my other recent Q&A here with PAN's global agency partner, Lucy Turpin.

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