You are a national champion, used to making headlines in your own country and now you want to feature in the UK business media … for a major international company, that shouldn’t be too difficult, surely?
However, UK business journalists are among the most respected and widely read in the world. As such, many global players are vying for their attention, encountering in the process a fiercely competitive environment rarely experienced at home.
So, the answer is: capturing their attention is harder than you might expect.
British journalists enjoy a type of courtship few media around the world experience. Not only are they a key target for large domestic companies, but their international perspective, the calibre of their business columnists and the expertise of their trade journalists mean they have dedicated readers both at home and abroad.
The London media has therefore become a global conduit through which to access both British and international audiences, whether they are investors, clients, employees, or other stakeholders.
So how is it best address this toughest of media crowds?
1. Build goodwill: just as consumers are unlikely to buy a product they aren’t familiar with, journalists will be reluctant to write about a company they have never heard of. You need to meet them on background, introduce the company and its management and ensure they understand the strategy and what sets you apart. Following this initial meeting, update them regularly to cement the relationship and reap the benefits over the long term.
2. Reassess your expectations: Even if your latest announcement made the front page at home, you are now in a much larger and significantly more competitive arena. The question you need to consider is why should they write about you specifically, and what differentiates you from your peers?
3. Be ready for scrutiny and tough questions: expect UK-based journalists to ask you the questions you’d rather avoid. Facing this type of interview is a sign that you are in front of a seasoned and probably well-respected journalist, whose endorsement – if secured – will be even more valuable. Preparation is key and transparency a must.
4. Ask yourself what’s the UK angle? A question I often ask my clients. Help the journalist make your story relevant to their audience – and their editors. Then think about giving them an exclusive if you have something special to say.
5. Can you compete with FTSE 100 companies? To secure your share of voice, promote yourself as an international benchmark for financial performance, innovation or ESG achievements – or whatever it might be – and establish your management as a thought leader in your sector.
6. Be proud of cultural differences: What is “the norm” at home can be a novelty and a source of inspiration abroad.
7. And above all, be present at the finishing line: This can mean your CEO or CFO occasionally being available for interview or asked to provide comments at very short notice, sometimes a thorny point for executives under intense time pressure but one which will most likely generate positive results and strengthen relationships.