Silke Rossmann – Partner and Head of Practice
In a recent blog post, we gave some background on Gaia-X, a European initiative to build a local cloud infrastructure. Today, we are going to take a closer look at why specifically US companies expanding into Europe should be familiar with this initiative, the drivers for such a project and what it means for their communications programmes.
The main drivers for building a European cloud infrastructure lie in the desire for more digital sovereignty, enhanced data privacy and an overall urge to be less dependent on US-based cloud giants such as AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. The initiative itself shows quite clearly that many Europeans are watching US companies within this field with lots of suspicion.
This is especially true for journalists across Europe. While everyone acknowledges the power and capabilities of US tech, the very first question you will always be asked in any interview will be about data privacy and protection. At Tyto, we work with many US brands and encounter these journalists’ concerns on a daily basis. Here are five tips that US cloud brands should consider when doing PR in Europe.
- Prepare your data privacy Q&A
We can almost guarantee that you will get questions around data privacy and sovereignty at some point when starting to do PR in Europe. Hence, we recommend that you work on potential questions with your PR team so that you can prepare a reactive Q&A.
This will not only help your PR team, but also your local spokespeople. Often when we get questions, it takes a long time to provide the answers because we not only have to consider the time difference between Europe and the US but also involve various types of subject matters and legal experts. The quicker we can answer these questions, the stronger the signal: Yes, this is a priority topic for us, too!
Simply not answering is hardly an option – as editors might even include that in their articles.
2. Don’t feed the trolls
We are definitely not saying that people who care about data privacy are trolls. It is an important concern for sure, and we are not at all trying to talk that down. But there are a few journalists and influencers whose view on data privacy has turned into a kind of ideology and no answer that we would be able to prepare would be sufficient for them. We will help you identify these kinds of inquiries and give you respective recommendations.
3. Be transparent
Again, questions around privacy and sovereignty WILL come up and journalists will see whether we are being open and transparent in our communications. Even if our answers do not turn out to be what they might have liked to hear, they will respect a transparent approach much more than marketing speech and answers which proactively avoid answering the actual question. Therefore, we should always seek a direct and open conversation with journalists to build up those important long-term relationships.
4. Be humble
One major point of criticism that we hear from journalists is that US companies can sometimes come across as a bit arrogant. While this might sound harsh, it just shows a big difference in culture and mindset. Open pride and self-praise are much less common in Europe than in the US.
As such, it is incredibly important to be humble in conversations with journalists. This doesn’t mean that you should sell yourself short, but rather that you should be well prepared for the conversation, listen carefully to their questions, show interest in the local market and accept the European caution around data topics.
5. Be locally relevant
This is probably the most important point. Whenever you speak to local press, especially in regard to these topics, being locally relevant simply shows that the market is as important to you as your local sales teams say it is. It is hard to explain why you are entering a market, see the business value and want to be successful if you do not really make much effort to show or develop any genuine local market footprint. On the other hand, providing spokespeople, local language assets and having a bit of knowledge around these local concerns will be more than enough to show that you are committed.
Tyto consultants have accompanied many market entry or brand building campaigns for US clients. In our experience, the best results are produced when mutual trust, open communications and the willingness to allow for a local flavor are a given. We might not always have the perfect answer right away – for example, we cannot predict if Gaia-X will be a success or what PR opportunities the initiative might generate for US cloud players – but be assured, we’ll keep monitoring, exploring, scouting and building our knowledge to be the best local partner you have ever worked with.
Photo credit (c) Austin Distel, Unsplash.com