An interview with Joanna Dodd, Rochester PR

Public Relations is important to businesses of all shapes and sizes, whether you are B2C or B2B. PR can help build trust between a business and its stakeholders, and it’s certainly very important now when we are all coming to terms with the aftermath of COVID-19. We sat down with our good partner, and an expert in PR & communications, Joanna Dodd, Managing Director at Rochester PR, to hear her thoughts on how businesses coming to the UK can effectively communicate their brand.

How social media has changed the PR landscape

The rise of social media and smartphones during the 2010s has had a profound impact on Public Relations and communications, creating new opportunities as well as challenges for brands. Aside from the new apps and platforms for communications, one key thing that has changed is the potential lifespan of stories.

Joanna explains: “The old saying “today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper” just doesn’t ring true anymore. Things last longer. Online media portals and social media guarantees that a negative feature of your company can be out there for a long time. Naturally, the same applies to a good story too.”

Perhaps the increased exposure to reputational issues is exactly what has made the value of PR so clear to businesses. PR has a longevity element to it. While marketing seeks to reap near-instant benefits and targets current and potential customers, PR is about building and maintaining positive relationships with the wider audiences of your brand. It’s a long-term investment and due to the channels it uses, PR messages are often regarded as more credible by customers.

Top 3 things to get right

PR, when done right, requires a lot of planning and preparation – even if you’re a well-established brand. Things get even more complicated when you enter a new market, particularly when you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of how local customers and competitors think and feel. And while the UK market is full of opportunities, it’s also very competitive. So how do you go about building your reputation in the UK? Here are Joanna’s top three pieces of advice for international companies entering and operating in the UK market.

1. Know your company inside out.

It’s tough to sell your company if you’re not sure what you’re selling. Strong brands know who they are, what they’re good at and, what they’re perhaps not so good at. Don’t go boasting about your outstanding customer service if that’s not your forte. It’s guaranteed to backfire sooner or later.

Instead, being honest and aware of your strengths and weaknesses is very important. According to Joanna: “Businesses with healthy egos believe in their products, they are hungry, and they have the drive to succeed in the UK market. However, what makes them truly successful is that they are aware of what they don’t know and acknowledge the fact that a new market comes with its particularities. Willingness to take advice and guidance from local market experts can give you a head start in a new market.”

2. Know what you want to achieve in the UK but don’t forget that things may take some time.

The UK market is big and competitive. It’s very unlikely you can reach the entire market at once so know what you’re selling, exactly who you want to sell to and how you plan on reaching those specific sectors and customers. However, be prepared that things may take time. Both Goodwille and Rochester PR know from experience that this is something that often surprises businesses when they first enter the UK market. If after a few months, or even a year, it feels like you haven’t progressed the way you had hoped, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the UK is not the right market for you, it can just require a bit more patience than you’re used to needing in other territories.

Knowing that things take time, it’s important to start building your reputation from the early stages when you enter the market. It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to get your first customers, and in the process, forget to tell the wider audience that you’re here. However, visibility in the media is important when you’re trying to sell yourself and build your reputation. “Here in the UK, it’s in our DNA to think about brands who market themselves.  We grow up with and are influenced by the brands we see and hear about.” – says Joanna. If people don’t recognise your brand, you may need to make more touchpoints with the potential customers before they are ready to buy from you. And this is exactly where PR can speed things up for you. With an effective PR strategy, you can increase the number of times people hear about you, therefore helping them develop a relationship with your brand.

3. Have the content and messaging that’s going to work.

To craft a compelling brand story, you need to know what works in the UK. However, this can be the intangible thing that is hard to know when you’re new to the market. Knowing what’s important to the Brits, what stories and trends have already been, and which trends come back year after year are all things where a local partner’s knowledge can be very valuable.

Remember, you may not have to start everything from scratch. “Often people forget what they already have. Do a content inventory – you may be able to bring your old content back to life by simply refreshing it for the new market.”

Final piece of advice

Entering a new market is always challenging but it can be very rewarding as well and a great opportunity for growth. Joanna reminds that you should try to make the most of the experience. “When you’re that entrepreneurial that you decide to come to the UK, enjoy it. Have a bit of fun. It’s a good learning curve about your brand and how great it can be. Plus, if you have big plans for your international expansion, the lessons you learn in the UK will be very useful for other markets too.”

Joanna Dodd, Director at Rochester PR

Joanna has over 25 years experience in PR, which aside from one stint as a client, has been spent in consultancy working with companies  from brand-new start-ups to global multinationals – across a huge range of sectors, from food and drink to private equity, and major charities to IT innovators. Market entry, product and company launches have been a consistent strongpoint.

She founded Rochester PR Group after working in PR agencies large and small, some within international PR or marketing services groups. Many of her clients have worked with her for many years, a sign of her loyalty and commitment to clients, and theirs to her, and an indication of her continuing enthusiasm and excitement about what PR can achieve.

If you’re thinking of expanding your business to the UK and need support with marketing and PR, read more about how Rochester PR can help you here or contact Joanna Dodd at Joanna.Dodd@rochesterprgroup.com. You can also visit our resource page to see their top tips on creating a presence in the UK.

Outside marketing and PR, Goodwille can support you with a wide range of essential businesses services. Whether you are looking to set up a UK subsidiary, register a UK branch or recruit UK based employees, we ensure your UK operation is properly administered, managed and monitored – all seamlessly coordinated through one company.