Pretty recently, I joined a seminar from the Berliner Journalistenschule, where I learnt about all things PR in Germany. This fascinating seminar was held in a small group, giving plenty of time to discuss topics and get a huge insight into different sectors, like tourism and medical research.
The seminar was run by Anne Harting, Editor in Chief at pajo one – an exclusive German art and lifestyle magazine. Sharing thoughts and networking with like-minded people was a great experience, and I’m going to share five nifty tips so you can start outreaching in Germany. Just read on to find out more…
1. Contact journalists on different platforms
Since the pandemic, the number of journalists has massively reduced and many of the usual contacts may have changed. So it’s wise to invest more time to find the right contact for the topic you’re covering.
If you’re unsure, feel free to contact one person from the publication, and then ask for their expertise to be pointed in the right direction! It might seem a little strange in the UK, but Germans don’t mind a classic phone call. And the benefits are endless; you also get to chat with new potential contacts.
Plenty of journalists will be active on social media – and this might not be as common in the UK, but connecting with German journalists on Facebook or Twitter is pretty standard! This helps you put a face to a name, plus you can follow what topics they might be interested in and get a better insight into their brand.
2. Time your outreach right
Like in the UK, try and avoid contacting journalists on a Friday afternoon or during their lunchtime (between 12-2 PM). And make sure you keep an eye on the time difference as well – this is crucial.
With this in mind, check when their school holidays start as this is the prime holiday season, and you don’t want to be receiving a bunch of out-of-office messages!
School holidays are similar to the UK, however, summer holidays take place at different times depending on the region. This changes every year, but as a general rule schools will be closed for six weeks between June and September. So, make a mental note of this…
3. Address your press releases appropriately
In Germany, it’s normal to approach someone who you’re not friends with in a more formal way. For instance, you wouldn’t usually call them by their first name. And the same goes for when you’re sending over a pitch, but there are a few ways to make this work for you.
You could use a less formal greeting, like “Hallo Beate” (translation: “Hello Beate”) but then use more formal language in your release. Alternatively, greet them by their first name and continue with more casual speech, as if you already know them. After all, this can mimic a more personal connection. For example, companies like IKEA made this one of their trademarks when communicating with customers and it worked brilliantly.
Or you could take a more formal approach throughout. In this case, you’d greet the journalist with “Dear Mrs Meier” (in German, this reads as “Sehr geehrter Herr Meier”). This approach could work better for releases discussing more serious topics, or when outreaching to journalists covering business and finance.
4. Consider what to write in your press release
You’ve got to remember that like us, the journalists you’re outreaching to are extremely busy, so they’ll quickly skim over your press release to save time. If the topic is of interest, they might just copy and paste your content to save time. So, you need to ensure your release is interesting, well-written, and highlights the key facts/findings.
In Germany, journalists will prefer comments from experts and facts from reliable (and well-known sources). So be sure to explain why the person you spoke to is an expert and provide your source. And if you’re attaching images, make sure you mention any copyright details. This avoids time-consuming, back-and-forth emails where the journalist(s) begin to lose interest.
5. Use German-specific keywords
As with every release, you can improve your success rate by picking the correct keywords. To find the keywords and use all available resources, it’s important to have someone on the team who speaks German. Because they’ll understand the culture and potentially regional differences in the language and culture.
Auto-translations are often unreliable, so your results could end up being incorrect. While many Germans’ English is good (and more and more English words have crept into their day-to-day vocabulary), they wouldn’t necessarily be searching for English-speaking content. So when you’re researching different topics, start making a list of words, terms and phrases you keep coming across, and include these in your release. You’ll have guaranteed success, trust us!
Keep reading and learning…
Now you’re all set, so you can start reaching out to German journalists. You’ll soon see the success of your campaigns being covered internationally!