The Similarities and Differences Between US and UK PR

As a PR professional, there is plenty of good news about industry growth these days. The PR industry is doing very well in the global market: research firm, Statista, reports that its worldwide value now stands at $97 billion

This growth may have you thinking about testing the waters in a new PR market. Since US and UK businesses share a common language, a switch or expansion from one of these countries to the other feels like a natural fit. 

While there are similarities that will make the transition easy, you also need to be aware of some big differences. 

Just like how New York public relations jobs can look different than Silicon Valley public relations jobs, PR looks even more different when you broaden your perspective globally and tackle London public relations. There can be huge surprises for PR professionals looking to make the leap from one country to another.  

Fortunately, if you plan and prepare for these differences in advance, you’ll enter your new market primed for success.

Similarities

You Need a Strong Story 🗞

There are some PR fundamentals that can never be skipped. This is especially true of brand stories. There is no side-stepping the most basic fact: your client needs to be newsworthy in some way, whether it’s a new product, service, or company story. 

You’ll want to vet and select clients that have story angles that you’re proud to pitch. Ideally, they have multiple angles for you to work with. Even a seasoned PR pro cannot sell a story that won’t earn reader interest. 

Media Relationships are Key

In both the US and the UK, PR professionals are valued most by the strength of their media network. The most sought-after professionals usually have years in the business and have developed the ability to pitch the right story at the right moment to the right person. When launching a PR campaign, they’re more likely to have their emails opened, and they know how to craft PR pitches that appeal specifically to the editors they work closely with. 

Some of the very best PR professionals can pick up the phone and land placements at the get-go.  At a minimum, they use PR automation software like Prowly to access media databases with hundreds of thousands of searchable contacts that can be categorized and pitched to based on their specific beats.

Editorial Calendars Matter 📆

Public relations professionals are some of the best planners in business, and whether you’re working in New York public relations or London public relations, you want to get your hands on editorial calendars for your targeted publications. 

Following editorial calendars ensures you provide relevant topic pitches at the right time. You can even use them as a guideline for brainstorming different story angles for your clients.

PR Professionals Are More Than a Mouthpiece

In parts of the world outside of the US and Western Europe, media relations and press events are the primary function of public relations jobs.  PR professionals are handed company messaging that they pass down to the media. 

It’s different in the US and UK, where the PR role is more closely-integrated into a company’s overall marketing strategy. This means that PR professionals are actively engaged in creating brand strategy and company messaging. PR pros don’t just act as a mouthpiece for the company; they are responsible for crafting the story too.

In fact, in the US and the UK, PR roles are still expanding as the media landscape grows. PR professionals in these countries should not be surprised when their roles include social media management, data analytics research, and crisis communications planning.

Differences

Topic Interest 

UK public relations efforts focus primarily on industry topics and take a global angle. UK PRs might be surprised to learn that US public relations is strongly US-based instead. 

On top of that, US public relations offers another angle that’s not as popular in the UK: focusing solely on one company’s news. This is a good thing!  It means there are lots of business publications willing to write about an individual CEO’s insights on leadership, industry trends, and market positioning. Stories about a company’s business growth and specific strategy are particularly popular.

This is also true of standalone product coverage. Where UK publications usually focus on product round-ups, US publications are open to an entire story on the features and benefits of just product or service (if the story is compelling, of course!).

Customer success stories also have more appeal in the US, so PRs there may focus on telling the story from a customer perspective. These stories focus on a customer’s challenge or pain point, then explains how their client introduced the solution.

The Role of PR Professionals

We discussed how both US and UK public relations jobs are broader than in other parts of the world. However, the US role is even bigger. At the top of the profession, PR professionals have been elevated to an executive role in companies. They are expected to advise and works directly with the C-suite to build and protect the company’s public image. 

In addition, US PR pros play a key role in developing and executing the communications strategies for the investor community and industry analysts. This is a significant responsibility tied to business recognition and investment funding. 

Next, add in the job of leading strategy for company awards and executive speaking opportunities, plus potentially leading employee communications. 

Finally, US PR agencies often work with outside research firms to develop studies that provide trending industry data to journalists that make click-worthy headlines.

Important to note: if you plan to leave a New York public relations job to take a public relations role in London (or vice versa), you’ll want to research the current average public relations salary in the UK and US. These could vary by more than you’d expect, due to this difference in PR role responsibilities.

Competition for Media Coverage 

This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock, as the US population is almost 5x larger than the UK population. 

This population difference means that the number of US media outlets is much larger. As a result, PR professionals need to manage a vast array of publications, websites, podcasts, and influencer channels. (BTW, a PR automation software like Prowly can definitely help you with this). 

While there are a lot more media opportunities, there’s also more competition for media coverage in the US  Research firm, IBISWorld reports that there are 54,581 PR firms in the US as of 2022. This number has grown 4.8% per year on average over the five years between 2017 – 2022. That’s a lot of PR pros pitching alongside you.

On the bright side, there are many more niche publications. So, PR campaigns can focus on different angles for different media channels, like general business, industry-specific, consumer-facing, and investment publications. This means that writing press releases in multiple ways can result in several different media placements.

US PR Costs are Higher 💸

Since public relations professionals cover more territory (both in job responsibility and media landscape), PR is generally much more expensive in the US, whether through monthly agency retainer costs or salaries for PR executives. 

To give you a basic idea, a PR professional at the top executive level in the US could be looking at a $200,000-$300,000 a year salary. Monthly agency retainers usually start at $10,000 per month.

Faster Timelines

US editors are asked to do a lot nowadays. As the media industry has become more competitive, and ad costs have shifted from print to digital, editorial teams have been reduced and current editors have to cover more topics at a faster timeline. These editors are expected to be very nimble in their work.

This means that PRs need to make an editor’s job as easy as possible by delivering as much content as they can in an easy-to-use format. A great example of this is the growth of the online press room, where an editor can find and download press releases, photos, and spokespeople quotes all from one place. 

In regard to US public relations, the pitch just isn’t enough. It needs to include statistics and data when available, along with hi-resolution images and videos.

How to do pitch effectively in the US?

Lately, we prepared a series of articles called Email Pitch Academy where you can learn to improve sender reputation and email deliverability and more. For more pitching tips for the US, check out Gini Dietrich’s article – she’s a US-based PR professional and the CEO of a wide-known Spin Sucks PR company with over 20 years of experience.

Making the Leap

Yes, there are some big differences between US and UK public relations, but there are some basic similarities that will make the transition easy for you. 

Armed with the differences, you’ll be able to make a solid plan for adjusting to your new PR role on the other side. You won’t be thrown by surprises, and you’ll get to focus on the fun that comes along with launching a new adventure in a new land.

You know that all of us at Prowly are here to assist you with the changes you’ll face in media database creation and pitching. We have your back – just let us know what you need!