Oct 6, 2022 - Economy & Business

Media parameters across the globe

Illustration of a microphone wrapped up in warning tape.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Editorial guidelines vary by market — and local communicators will better understand the nuances.

Yes, but: If you don't have a partner on the ground, keep these tips in mind ...

  • On the record. Everything is on the record in countries like Spain, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and statements attributed to an unnamed spokesperson will not be included.
  • What embargo? Journalists in much of Sub-Saharan Africa assume press materials are for immediate release, and sometimes the press announcement is the article.
  • More face to face. The British and Australian media are very engaged in corporate news and corporate press conferences are common.
  • Timing is everything. "Making an announcement during the day on Eastern or Pacific time will miss that day’s news cycle abroad, and it will be seen as old news when it reaches them the next day," says Alexandru Voica, head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) innovation communications for Meta.
    • One way to manage the time difference is to use international news wires.
  • Language barriers. Be clear and direct in your communications and avoid idioms.
    • Write announcements or pitches in the native language — to allow for local terminology and flavor — then translate to English for approvals.
    • Avoid "rest of world" framing — like referring to the U.S. presidential election as “the election,” which diminishes the importance of other elections taking place around the world.
  • Smart Brevity translates globally. "Several markets in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia appreciate brevity so keep press releases short," says Voica.

Zoom in: In the U.S., all parameters should be agreed to ahead of time by both parties.

  • On the record: Everything said can be shared, quoting the source by name, title and affiliation.
  • On background: The information can be shared without naming the particular source, but affiliation, rank or position can be used — for example, “a spokesperson for the company said …”
  • On deep background: The information can be shared, but how its attributed is often vague — such as “According to a source … ” — and should be carefully discussed.
  • Off the record: Information stays between the reporter and the subject. It cannot be used for publication.
  • Embargoes: A great tool for sharing complicated, data-heavy reports ahead of launch — but there must be a conversation first. Blasting embargoed materials is bad form.

Subscribe to Axios Communicators.

Go deeper