Today I will be sharing with you the story of what happened when, at NeoMam, we decided to grab the content that we already produced and promoted in English and relaunch it in different countries. Now, before I start I will need you to do something for me. It’s not a big thing so don’t worry too much about it but if you could please have a think and just try to identify a piece of content that you produced for yourselves or your clients in English that have achieved good results during the promotion stage.
It could be anything really. A video, an e-book, an interactive – an infographic even, that you have launched in English and have achieved mentions in newspapers, features in magazines, placements on blogs, links from reputable industry sites. Any big win that you have in English. Please have a think. Try to find one and the good news is, if you do have one of them; that means you have won fifty percent of the international digital PR battle right there and then. All you need now is a process and that’s exactly what I’m gonna share with you.
So please have that big win in mind throughout the webinar because by the end of it you will have all the tools you need to just go back onto your desk start drafting a strategy and hopefully have a plan for relaunching it in different countries.
Now, this is a webinar so I can’t see you faces. And I’m guessing that, whereas some of you are probably interested in what I’m gonna share and maybe even, why not, excited about it, there might be some attendees who are not very sold into the idea. And maybe you are, well, not very impressed by this. And it’s normal. It makes sense to be concerned about things that you’ve never done before and those of you who are still not very sure you’re probably in the same position my boss was when I went to him with this bit of a mad idea. You might be thinking: well, it sounds very interesting but it also sounds like it’s gonna be a lot of hard work and I already have enough of that so I’m not sure if I’m willing to do it. Also, it will probably be very expensive, we don’t have a process in place for this and we don’t have a multi-lingual team so we will have to hire people who have massive language skills and at the end of the day I’m not sure it’s worth it. We already have a put in plan for the year. We already have relationships with the media in English. It would be like starting all over again.
These are valid concerns, like I said. And these are the same things that my boss told me, so I have answers for all of this. But also, because I’m speaking at the SemRush webinar, and probably most of you are SEOs or work in online marketing in-house or in agencies; I’m sure that in addition to these four things you might be thinking things like: well, we don’t really offer our service in Italy. Or, we don’t sell our product in Spain, what’s the point of being featured there? Or you could even say: is it relevant for my UK client to get featured in a Spanish website, in a German website? And relevancy is a very interesting topic. We could certainly have a really long conversation about it and talk about relevancy in terms of content, in terms of audience, in terms of publishers, links; but it wouldn’t be very nice for me to do it right now because it would be a really long monologue, you won’t be able to give me your input. So instead of doing that what I’m gonna do is I will show you something and I want you to be completely honest with yourselves.
Do you really think that there is no value, and it’s not worth any of your time, to launch a campaign that could get you a feature on GQ magazine? Even it’s in Italy? What about getting your client mentioned on El Pais, which is one of the biggest newspapers in Spain. And I could say the same thing about Neon but that’s France. Stern in Germany. Wouldn’t you consider it a big win if you get, if you got one of your pieces of content featured tomorrow on Wired, even if it’s Wired in Italy? Or if you get a mention on Esquire in Spain. Now, these are all big wins and the thing that all these publishers have in common, even though they are in different countries and in different sectors, is that they are some of the most authoritative, reputable publishers, all around the world, in print and online. So getting an editor from any of these newspapers or magazines featuring your content and deciding to share it with their readers, in any language, it’s a massive achievement. And if you are very good at what you do and if you are good at public relations you will know how to use that window that you have to GQ magazine, even if it’s in Italy, to try to open a door to GQ magazine in the UK or in the US.
So I rest my case there. I hope that I have convinced all of you who weren’t convinced. The good news is that I did manage to convince my boss at the time so I could run our own tests and today I will have a lot of information to share with you.
My name is Gisele Navarro. I am the head of media relations for NeoMam Studios. In case you haven’t heard about me or about the agency, we are a visual content marketing agency based in Manchester, England. And today I’m gonna share with you, what I like to call, our Hero’s Journey through international digital PR.
It was not very easy. It was hard at times and I will be honest with you, we made loads of mistakes; but we also learned some really valuable lessons and the reality is that today we don’t have much time. So I know that starting by sharing our mistakes is the best way to get you to learn really quickly. I’ve attended many webinars, many conferences, and I know that when a speaker tells me what they did wrong I will have an edge when I try to do it myself. So, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do, even if I will embarrass the agency a little bit, maybe I will embarrass myself. What I really need for you to do is to give me your full attention, because if we do this right you will close this webinar today, you will go back to your desk and you will start drafting a strategy that will allow you to grab that same piece of content that I ask you to think about and expand the reach of the content immensely, just by getting it featured and mentioned in some of the biggest media publishers all over the world. So I hope you’re ready because this is going to be quite fast.
This is our first case study. Meet our Gay Marriage Warm Up. It was an infographic we launched quite a while ago and it was very simple, just a data visualization covering the laws and the regulations in regards to gay marriage and homosexuality around the world. And I decided to run my test in Spanish, because as you can probably tell I’m a native Spanish speaker so it was safe. I’m not that mad that I would just go and start promoting content in Russia if I don’t speak Russian. And the reason that I selected the content was because it did all right when we were promoting it in English and I thought it was a newsworthy piece of content that would allow journalists and bloggers and editors to just write their own story and use it as data they can just build upon.
Now, I would love to say that we just translated the content, sent a few emails, and it worked. But the reality is that was hardly the case. We ran into three big problems that seriously affected the results of the campaign. The first problem was the translation to the content. The second burden was the tone of the emails that we were using during the promotion. And the third problem, and the worst of them all, was the strategy.
I like to think about the first problem as a rookie’s mistake really, because we’ve never translated content before; we didn’t know what to expect, where to start. And we didn’t have much budget so we went quite cheap. At the time I was the only native Spanish speaker, so I was doing the proof reading and the copy editing of the translations and I had to turn down two translations in a row because both of them, even though the words were translated correctly the content itself, it sounded quite robotic, very Google translated like. And that’s when we realized that we would have to spend a little bit more money in order to find someone who was not just translating the content word by word, but also was paying attention to the interpretation of that content. Now, this is the first lesson that I have for you. Whenever you translate content from language to another, make sure that the interpretation of that content is right. Make sure that, if you are using idioms or expressions they correctly translated and interpretated into the language that you are going to be working with. And if you’re making any references to pop culture that makes sense in the US and you want to relaunch that piece of content in Spain, just make sure that you find a translator who can find a similar reference to make that content make sense.
Now, we’ve had the content. We got a really good person to work with; he did the translation, the interpretation. We created the design and it was ready to start with a campaign. So what I did was I went onto oDesk, that now is called Upwork; and I found a fellow Argentine who was gonna help me promoting the content. We didn’t have much budget, as I said earlier; so we ended up spending seventy pounds in the translation and the interpretation of the content and we had enough money to put eight hours of outreach into the, into this test. So, at the end we ended up spending around a hundred and ninety pounds on eight hours of work. We got the results in, and what we got was three placements that weren’t big enough to trigger a snowball effect. Two placements that were but they were removed the day after they went live.
What can I say? I wasn’t very happy about this. And I had a choice. I knew that I could either go to my boss and say: you know, Lenny, you were right. This is hard work, it’s going to be really expensive, it’s not worth it. It’s not gonna work. Or, I could go back to square one. Start analyzing everything we had done and find out where did we go wrong. And because I’ve never had content removed that was willing featured by an editor or a journalist. I knew I had to go back and I had to analyze everything we’ve done and find out what went wrong.
So that’s what I did. And I knew the content was right. I that the sign was really nice. It was very simple to understand. There was no problem there. So I logged into the email that was used for the promotion and I read all the emails that were sent out and all the responses that we were getting. And that’s when I found the second problem. The tone. The tone of these emails was wrong. And the problem we really simple; the person that was doing the promotion is from Argentina so she was trying to neutralize her accent and it was very hard to understand what she actually wanted so bloggers, journalists, they were exchanging quite a few emails back and forth, just to figure out what was it that she was suggesting; what was she offering. That’s never a good thing. You don’t want to have them having to figure yourself out. If you are genuine, if you are clear, they will understand. So I went back to her and said look: the same you understand what someone from Mexico or Spain use their own lingo in their emails, they will understand you. So I will get you some more hours but I need you to be yourself. This is something that, if any of you has ever done any link building or outreach PR, you probably know this. It takes a person to connect to another person. If you really want to build a relationship you can’t start by faking something that you are not. So I talked to her and she was on board. I knew that if I got ourselves a few more hours we would be able to make this work, but when I was going through the emails I found that there was a clear trend in the responses we were getting.
On the one side we got editors, reporters, saying: Oh, look. Thanks for sending this over. It looks nice but it doesn’t quite fit, it doesn’t really fit my site; it doesn’t fit my column. But thank you. And on the other side we got journalist, bloggers, saying: Hey thanks for sending this over. I will pass on this one but if you have anything else in Spanish just please let me know. So the design was being well received. The content was well received. The problem is that we were just aiming at the wrong target. Our strategy was all wrong.
When we launched this piece of content in English we treated it as a data visualization. That’s what it was. Just a data visualization covering regulations in regards to gay marriage. That’s it. The problem is that we tried to replicate this strategy and we were talking to a very different audience. When you talk about gay marriage or homosexuality, at the time we we’re doing this, in Latin America and some areas in Spain this was still a topic that is quite taboo. So when I publisher was featuring the infographic they were actually making a political statement. They were saying: we support social equality for LGBT communities; and that was the reason why some of these big publishers who decided to feature the content, they later removed it because they were getting people arguing each other within the comments section and it was easier for them to just get rid of the content other than deal with the backlash that it was creating for them. So I had to change the strategy. And it was not very hard. It didn’t take a lot of time really.
Whereas before we decided to go for any journalist, any publisher, any blogger, who had covered the topic of gay marriage in the past. This time we decided to clean our lists and make sure that we were targeting journalists, publishers, newspapers, bloggers, who have covered the topic of gay marriage and who have made a political statement out of it. We wanted the readers, the writers, the editors, to be used to receiving this content within a political sense. So we went back and we started prospecting again and cleaning up our lists. And with all this information I went back to my boss and I said: look, it didn’t work out. You were right, it was quite hard but I found out why so if you give me eight more hours I will show you what we can do with this. Luckily he said yes, and after these eight hours of promotion. Making the changes in the tone of the outreach and in the strategy that we were using we got the results that we were expecting all along. Very good features around the world, in all Spanish speaking countries. Really good for us.
And you might say: oh Gisele you’re great. You’re so cool, you are so smart. You are so cute. You’d be right. I am those things, but that doesn’t mean that we could take this test and turn it into a product that we would offer our clients. We can’t go on offering products that we don’t know how long they’re gonna take. How expensive they’re gonna be. Whether they’re gonna work or not. So I knew I had to run another test, but this time I wanted to make sure that the test was right. And in order to assure myself that we wouldn’t mess it up again, I decided to pick a piece of content that we have produced in English that was already appealing to a Spanish speaking audience, that had a topic that was interest to Spanish speaking people, but a wide range of people, not just segmented groups, and has already showed to us that had potential to go big, to go viral.
So I went onto our analytics and I started searching and going through the pieces of content we produced that year, and I found something we did that was already getting traffic from Spanish-speaking countries, it was being shared by Spanish-speaking users on social media, and even though it was in English it was already getting links and features on Spanish media. This is our second case study, our first interactive which is quite old but still going strong, and we like it very much. Our “13 reasons why your brain craves infographics“, or “13 razones por las que a tu cerebro le gustan las infografias” Wow, I was so excited when we were going to launch this campaign. I knew it was going to work. The content was really good, the design was just sleek and pretty, and we had the person for the translation that was ready, he already knew what we needed. And the person doing the outreach was already really confident, and she already built some really good relationships. So we were ready.
I got ourselves some more budget, eight hours again just to test, we launched the campaign, and I was just hoping for the best. But two hours into the campaign we had to stop. I made a mistake. I made a big assumption that was creating us a problem.
My assumption was everyone loves interactive content. So, this is interactive, thus it will go massive. But the problem is even though people really liked it, editors and journalists and bloggers in Spanish speaking countries were not used to working with interactive content. So when we decided to replicate the same strategy that we used in English, and when someone got back to us and said ya, I want to share it, we would send a little image, just like this one that you can see here, that looked a bit like a banner, massive call to action, you want to see it, click here, and see the interactive. The publishers were just, they didn’t understand it. They were shown an interactive piece of content, and when they wanted to share they would get this little image. In English it worked really well, they are used to these things. Now, there, they just couldn’t understand. Why would they place a door to NeoMam’s website on their column, or on their blog? Didn’t make sense.
And I decided to stop the campaign because I knew they were right. We could do better, we could do better than that. And I knew that if we were to spend six more hours we would start to get people who were requesting money because this was just blatant advertising, and I didn’t want to go through that. So I stopped the campaign, went back to my desk, start thinking about what can we do, how can we solve this, and came up with two solutions to this problem. Not only one, but two.
The first one is something that now is common practice every time we produce interactive content. We created a static version of the interactive. It’s not the entire piece of content, but we just curated some of the most interesting stats, the best bits, and a little call to action at the end saying if you want to know click here, and you see the full interactive.
Now I knew this would probably work. This would be enough. We were giving real content to publishers, and they will have something to feature. They will have something to write about. But, I was a little bit paranoid, and I didn’t want to have to stop the campaign two hours into the outreach. So I came up with an additional solution.
We were aiming at three very clear targets here. We were going for the more scientific audience. On the other side we had more of a design audience, and then also marketing and advertising. So, we have enough content to be able to create three different options for each of these sectors. So when we were reaching out to a scientific magazine or a blogger we were offering them access to our entire research. And not just the research that we used on the interactive, but also all the white papers, all the studies that we read, we didn’t quite use, but helped us understand the topic. So they had a lot of research they could use for writing their own articles about it.
And, when we were reaching out to design magazines or design bloggers, we were offering them information about the technologies we used, the problems we found when we were working on the interactive, the tips that we will give someone who wants to use something like that, and they had access to ask questions related to that that they wanted to share with their readers.
And at last when we were reaching out to marketing or advertizing magazines or publishers, we were offering them information about how we work to support our client objectives with digital content marketing. So we had the static, we had the packs of information, we decided to just hit play and let the remaining six hours of outreach continue.
And after those six hours, the results were just amazing. They were what we were expecting. We got features on all the different sectors we were going after, and it was just a really good campaign. But aside from that, the best thing we achieved is something that we still see today, even though it’s been a year and a half since we launched this test. We achieved real human interaction.
If you check out the interactive you will see that across the interactive there are lots of little Tweetable facts based on the research, and we decided to translate each of them, and we wrote them and we made them make sense for Twitter. And even today we have tons of users every day in Spanish who are sharing and keeping that bus going. That is proof that we did something right.
And in addition to this human interaction, which is great, we also build long-term relationships with publishers, editors, journalists, bloggers, who saw us going that extra mile for them, who told us what they thought, and who saw us actually coming back with a solution instead of just saying oh, you don’t like it, fine. There are more publishers out there. Goodbye. We actually cared, we showed that we cared, and they remember. Even now they remember. Even now they reach out to us and they ask if you have anything else.
So this was a really really good campaign. And ya, it was not easy, but it was not impossible either. And you already know that you have a piece of content that has achieved good results. You have it in mind. Right? I hope you do. And now you have three lessons, and you will not make the same mistakes we made. When you translate that piece of content you will make sure that the interpretation is right, you will make sure that any turns of phrases, any expressions, any references to pop culture, they are all correctly interpreted into a language that you want to target. And, when you are promoting your content in any language, you will make sure that you are being genuine with it.
And by the way, you can certainly promote content in English. Most countries, if you are reaching out to tier 1 media, they will speak English. And it’s you being genuine, saying hey, I don’t speak Spanish, I’m sorry, but we produced this and I think you will like it and your readers will like it as well. Just be human. It takes a human to connect to another human. That’s basic. And when you sit down with a strategy to promote this piece of content in a different country, take your time to understand the topic and how the audience in that country relates to it. That will give you enough information to put together most dedicated strategy.
Now there’s a chance that still you think well, this is not enough. Sounds good but it’s not enough. So, I put together a few more takeaways. And that’s a donut kebab. Yes, that’s what it is. Right.
The first takeaway is for you to start with your best performing content in English. That’s why I asked you that question at the beginning. You already have it in mind. Start with the content that already achieved good results during the promotion stage. Then, move on to content that is already getting traffic from the countries that you want to target, or that is already being shared from the, by users in the countries that you want to target.
Just to show you an example of how we do it in a very practical way, we launched this campaign a few months back, just an infographic on how to design your bedroom for a good night’s sleep. And we launched the campaign, it did really well, really good placements across different sectors for our client, they were very good. But when we were compiling the report we realized that we had quite a few publishers in Belgium and in Netherlands picking it up. So we went to the client and said look, this has potential. We should translate it into Dutch, and we should re-launch it. This is gonna work. We already know it’s gonna work. It’s working in English.
And the client said yes, so we did it. And we got really good results for them in Belgium and in Netherlands. And while we were doing the campaign in these countries, we realized that actually there were publishers in Italy picking it up. So now we are closing the campaign that we launched for Italy, and it’s working really well as well.
So always go for those piece of content that have proven to you that have potential, that publishers like them, that the topics are spot on or content is just well crafted, the design is amazing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a video, it doesn’t matter if it’s an infographic or an eBook. Everything can be translated.
My second takeaway is: if you do have to, or if you want to pick an idea, and say I want to just test this idea in different countries, go and try to choose topics that feature different cultures. Choose topics that take the reader on a trip around the world. Because we’ve been doing this for a year and a half now, we have clients that come to us and they don’t want you testing, they just want to launch a campaign in different countries. So this is a very simple thing that you can do for starting campaigns like this.
Just to show you how we did it: we had a client, they came over and said we want to launch a campaign in five countries in Europe. So we came up with this idea. Very simple, just a guide to European street food, including information about from the recipe of how it’s done, to where to find it, to how many calories it has, to what’s the price that it should be, the one that they’re charging you if they’re not over charging you. And we launch it in different countries. We made sure that all the countries we were launching were included in the content, and we got really, really, really good results in every country.
So, if you are thinking of just launching a campaign that is gonna be the multilingual, think about a topic that covers different cultures, or that like I said earlier takes the reader on a trip around the world. It’s not hard to do, you can do it with different sectors. And so this is a very easy way for you to just prove the concept of launching a campaign in different countries.
Now you have the first takeaway; start with your best performing content. Second one: choose content that is based on topics that connect different cultures. And I have a third takeaway for you. If you can’t remember anything that I just said, just remember this: you have to stay flexible.
Being good at outreach, being good at link building or PR. It’s not just about having the right connections. If you want to achieve consistently good results with every piece of content, not with just one every five, you have to allow yourself to be flexible. You have to be able to stop a campaign when it’s not working, go back, and try to understand why it’s not working, and go fix it. That’s something that we do every single day with every campaign that we launch, and that’s how we get consistently good results.
Imagine that if I were to just not even try to figure out what happened, and just left the test not working at the beginning when we launched our gay marriage warm-up, right now I wouldn’t be talking to you about this. We wouldn’t have the clients that we have working in different countries, we wouldn’t have a team working in different languages. It all happened because we remained flexible, and we allowed ourselves to just stop for a minute, and go back, and analyze, and learn, and bring those learnings back.
So this is something that you can do across different stages in your process. It’s not just for promotion, but promotion is particularly important. You have to be flexible. If you can’t remember anything else that I’ve said, keep this with you. Be flexible, be flexible with your campaigns.
And if still, after showing you all this, after giving you all these lessons and takeaways, you don’t believe that it’s worth it to grab your best performing content and re-launch it in different countries, I have one more thing to show you. If you don’t translate your best performing content in English today, someone else will do it, and I promise they won’t use your logos.
Thank you very much, I hope you found it useful.