London – 16 December, 2013 – Ascendant Communications (www.ascendcomms.net) a European B2B technology PR firm, has announced the results of a survey it carried-out with over 2,000 PR and marketing decision-makers in US technology companies in November, 2013, asking a few questions about their awareness, attitudes and priorities towards Europe and plans for PR in this region in 2014. The results of this research were very encouraging, but also enlightening about some major short-comings in the overall knowledge of how best to get results and ROI from PR spend in Europe.
The good news was that of those who responded to the survey all were emphatic that Europe is a key market for sales and marketing efforts. As the European economy continues to move into recovery in 2014, it is likely that Europe will take an even more central role in sales and growth planning. In addition, 88% of those surveyed said that they planned to make some investment in PR in Europe in 2014.
The survey then went on to ask respondents about whether they viewed the deployment and execution of PR in Europe as being similar to the US or very different. Anecdotally, Ascendant has found many smaller US start-ups, and even more established firms, still have issues understanding the reason that the per capita cost of PR in Europe is more expensive than in the US, where one agency on a retainer of USD 7K up to say USD 15K can cover a market of 300 million people in a nice one-stop shop approach. The reality in Europe, despite 20 years of EU propaganda, is it that remains from a sales and marketing perspective a region of over 25 separate states, many with their own distinct languages and culture, that require on the ground local language PR experts, and local news and content that will interest a parochial and inward looking media. The net of this is that often several PR teams are needed across Europe, where the cost is higher than for a single regional agency as in the US, and the cultural interface needed is more prosaic than just an English language format.
Encouragingly though, a number respondents seemed to understand this, stating, for example, that “each country has its own history and culture,” and that Europe has “different audience behaviors and approaches.” But equally, a number gave responses that showed they thought both markets were similar and there were no real differences. There are some clear information gaps in the market, based on the research, that could lead to fundamental errors being made in how PR is being implemented in Europe and the results and ROI gained – a lesson very few vendors can afford to make.
One area in the survey results where this gap really seemed to open up was in the knowledge and attention given to local and regional technology industry analysts in Europe. Here only 30% of those who responded stated that they gave specific attention to local and regional European industry analysts – a massive and again fundamental gap in the understanding of how to properly deploy resources and budgets to support sales in Europe. Market figures suggest that around 80% of major IT purchasing decisions in enterprises are driven by some form of analyst recommendation.
James Cooper, Managing Director of Ascendant Communications, said; “In this regard industry analyst relations (AR) is unique in B2B technology marketing and PR in being a sales channel in its own right, yet the fact that so many technology firms neglect the European analysts is quite shocking, and anecdotally this is a trend we see in many firms we speak to. Our view is that this is down to the lack of integration in many US marketing teams where AR and PR are often managed centrally but the teams are not properly integrated and AR views its US analysts as the ‘key players’ and chooses not to focus enough on those outside of the US.
“The reality is that many European analysts have global research roles, some also work with major end user brands that are headquartered in Europe, and if they are not aware of a vendor in Europe, or know little about the European operations, customers or credibility of certain vendors they will not be recommending them to these brands to include in their RFQ lists. So this is clearly an area that many vendors need to work on, and in Europe there are very few really good PR/AR firms where, unlike the US, most PR firms really do not understand how to work analysts for the benefits of their clients. Companies like Ascendant Communications aim to change this pattern by being experts in both areas, but for vendors it is challenging to find good local suppliers covering both areas.”
He concluded; “So what conclusion can we reach from this research? Firstly, we can see that Europe remains a key market for many US technology players. However, the same old gaps in understanding the cultural differences in Europe, and how to properly exploit this rich market, seem to remain with many companies hampering their sales and marketing efforts and ultimately wasting the resources they are spending on their PR programs. However, now is a good time for vendors to look at research like this as they start to plan for 2014 and to learn some valuable lessons to really enjoy success from PR in Europe.”