How to successfully launch a PR campaign in France

Audrey Maffre

Senior International Digital Campaign Manager


A common misconception is that if a PR campaign works in one country, it will work in every country. We often see global companies translate US campaigns that went viral, or even just outreach the campaign as it is, and expect to get like for like results. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

There are multiple reasons that US campaigns fail to get results in other countries, most of which tie back to differences in the culture. Did you know that although most French journalists speak English, they are less likely to read and reply to an outreach email not written in French? French journalists also do not accept pitches over social media, unlike US journalists who frequently use Twitter as a source for #journorequests.

In this blog, we’ll run through how the do’s and don’t’s of creating a successful PR campaign for the French market.

The media landscape in France

Digital PR in France has the same challenges as the US: earning links from high-quality sites, turning coverage into a followed link, and avoiding sites which practice questionable SEO.

Despite having the same goal, the type of campaigns and how they are executed differs from one market to the next and this is largely due to cultural differences, including:

  • There are no tabloids in France, which makes it more difficult to get coverage for a lighter lifestyle story
  • French news stories need to be backed up with data, interviews and reports from well-known sources.

Differences in humor, as well as pop-culture references, also ensures that some American campaigns are not relevant in the French market.


Best practice tips for French PR

We’ve created international PR campaigns in over 35 languages.

To succeed specifically in France, here are our top tips.

Don’t translate the results of an American survey into French and hope it will get picked up. The French are particular about data, so unless it is from an elite source and relevant worldwide, it will need to be specific to the country, region and even city you are aiming to get coverage in. Translated US data will not resonate with French readers, and therefore will not interest them. If it doesn’t interest the reader, it doesn’t interest the publication – which means no links for you.

Instead, do gather relevant data. This could be by surveying French people, or looking at customer or analytics data from French customers. However you decide to get the data, ensuring that is relevant to a French audience will help make it more appealing to French publications.

Don’t expect the same results as the US version of the campaign, even if you’ve allocated the same budget. The French and US markets are different – not just in the stories they cover, but in their attitudes towards linking, the news agenda, and more. The types of publications vary, as well as the number of publications, too; we often see thousands of contacts for one niche in the US, but only a few hundred or less in France.

Do manage expectations: links can be hard to get, and we often find that successful campaigns may not get results straight away. It is crucial that, when having initial meetings with clients, they are educated on the differences in the media landscape between international markets so that relevant targets can be set. You can also set expectations for the length of a campaign: French journalists tend to take longer before getting back to PRs than US journalists do. While this is normal in the French media, it means that results take longer to start coming through in France compared to the US.

Most importantly

Don’t think that anyone who speaks French can be the new market expert. Not only do you need native speakers who understand the culture, you need someone who is an expert in PR and content. French PR specialists know what makes a story in France, and how to sell it in to a journalist – something that your niece’s neighbor who took French lessons doesn’t.

We only work with native speakers who are experts in PR, we are able to create campaigns which are likely to succeed in international markets – thanks to a combination of cultural knowledge, and PR expertise.

If you made it to the end of this article, merci. And as a reminder of the key takeaways:

  • Always be aware that a different market means a different or adapted strategy
  • French journalism is overall more serious than in the US
  • Do not expect the same results for France than the US campaign’s(positively or negatively)
  • Work with a French native – it will help, trust us!

Get in touch and see how our international team can help you to expand.

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