Digital PR in Germany is still in the emerging stages, with few agencies offering it as part of their digital marketing service. As a result, creating an effective digital PR strategy in Germany comes with its own unique challenges and the key to success lies in knowing how to navigate them.
The media landscape in Germany is in many ways more traditional than in the UK. Tabloids exist on a smaller scale and mainstream news outlets tend to avoid controversial issues and favour classic, neutral and fact-based journalism. There is also still a significant focus on print, which impacts the volume and frequency in which online content is posted.
So how do you run a successful digital PR campaign in Germany which earns coverage and SEO-amplifying links?
1. Topical Relevance: As in any market, staying on top of the news cycle is key for creating stories that interest journalists. We found that the topics that tend to dominate German media include sustainability, education, equality, health, tech and security issues, to name a few.
2. Data-led and research-backed campaigns: Well-researched and data-heavy campaigns around contemporary issues tend to perform best in Germany. Compared to the UK, journalists are more selective about the content they publish and rely far less on PR pitches, so adding value and credibility to your campaign will help it stand out. Surveys, academic research, official reports, statistics, or even expert insights create a strong basis.
3. Celebrity & Niche expert interviews: Using the power of celebrities like sports stars and Reality-TV personalities works especially well in niches like lifestyle, sport and entertainment. Interviews maintain the level of authority and exclusivity that catches the attention of newspapers and magazines.
1. Planning ahead & timing: One major difference for gaining coverage in Germany is that conversion times from a lead to a link can be significantly longer than in the UK or US. Based on our conversations with journalists, this is because it is not uncommon for German writers to plan content far in advance, so they will often come back to use a release later, when it fits in with their calendar.
Sometimes, we receive responses, questions or links to coverage weeks or even months after we send out a release. In one instance, a journalist requested quotes by a well-known sports expert, with the intention of using them over two months after the interview. We have also seen journalists turning down relevant and tailored releases in the past, because they did not fit into their pre-planned editorial calendar.
So, unless a story is time sensitive like breaking news, it is wise to plan campaigns well in advance and running over several months to reap their full rewards.
Another thing to bear in mind is the time difference, which sets Germany one hour ahead of the UK. This means that journalists leave their desks an hour earlier in the afternoon, so you may want to catch them early in the day.
2. Tone & Language: It is generally considered as best practice in Germany to use more formal language than in the UK, especially when pitching to journalists you are not familiar with. It is common to address people by their appropriate title and last name and to use the formal version of you “Sie”, rather than “Du”.
3. Be prepared to speak to journalists: German journalists don’t get bombarded with emails to the same extent British journalists do. As a result, the response rate tends to be higher. Use this opportunity to gauge interest and gather feedback.
Journalists are also selective and inquisitive about the content they use, so be prepared to answer questions and don’t be surprised if a journalist wants to speak to you over the phone.
4. Editors are your friends: Editors are in charge of decision making and content planning. Establishing strong relationships with editors can lead to recurrent opportunities for coverage. Once you find the best contact for your niche, keep them in the loop on upcoming campaigns, ask questions about what content they need and offer exclusives.
After looking at some of the things that do work in the German market, here are some tips on what not to do:
1. Clickbait and sensationalist angles: The typical explosive headlines you see in British tabloids are more often than not considered tacky and off putting in Germany.
2. Keeping things vague: Germans value directness and honesty. If you gloss over questions you don't have the answer to or withhold information, you lose credibility and miss out on coverage opportunities.
3. Setting unrealistic goals: Different rules apply to different markets. In Germany, slow and steady wins the race and your KPIs need to reflect this. It is rare for campaigns to achieve the immediate ‘big bang’ results that can often be seen in the UK, especially in the short run, so set realistic targets and manage expectations early on to ensure a positive outcome for you and your client.