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How to do trade and tech PR in Italy successfully

Pasta, pizza and prosecco are possibly the first images that spring to mind whenever Italy is mentioned. Perhaps not everyone knows that the country also happens to be an industrial powerhouse, one that is now at the forefront of Industry 4.0.

The world’s fourth manufacturer of machine tools (after China, Japan and Germany) [1], Italy is one of the few countries that have implemented a National Industry 4.0 Plan to boost Internet of Things (IoT)-led industrial innovation[2].

All seems to suggest that there has never been a better time to do trade and tech PR in Italy. Yet, doing it successfully can be as challenging as selecting the right parmigiano wheel.

The B2B media landscape  

Italy boasts a broad and comprehensive B2B media landscape, particularly in sectors such as industrial automation and electrical engineering. More recently, new titles – entirely dedicated to Industry 4.0 – have made the industrial trade media base more diverse and cutting-edge than ever.  So far so good.

The big challenge is that the publishing industry is under pressure. Over the last decade, print advertising investment (in newspapers and periodicals) has decreased by 65% and the total average daily circulation has fallen from 5.4 million copies to 2,9 million [3].

This is good news for digitally-savvy PR professionals, with the average daily digital circulation recently surpassing 500,000 copies. However, it also put unprecedented strain on publishing houses and hunting for advertising has become the most popular national sport.

Italians, a people of saints, poets, sailors….And salesmen

According to an old Italian saying, we are a people of saints, poets and sailors. Yet, there’s another important occupation that lies at the heart of the Italian way of life: the art of selling. Unsurprisingly, the Italian B2B media outlets are largely commercially-orientated, especially now that, as mentioned, resources are scarce.

For many publications, especially for vertical titles, lack of advertising translates into limited editorial space or no space at all. For others, especially the longest-established, horizontal engineering outlets there is still a chance to generate good coverage, but advertising is obviously a plus.

Building personal relationships and being persuasive

It seems obvious, but the best way of addressing this challenge is to build personal relationships and knowing the language is pretty much essential. Most Italian editors will always prefer a phone call or, even better, a face-to-face meeting to an email, so opportunities to speak to them and getting to know them on a more personal level can really make the difference.

Large trade shows such as SPS IPC Drives in Parma (the Nuremberg event’s Italian sister) give PR professionals a unique chance to meet all the key B2B media editors in person –but a few phone calls and chaser e-mails are required to convince them to commit their time to one-to-one press briefings.

This is where the importance of having an exciting story to tell comes in. Again, the salesman principle works for PR professionals too and being persuasive in pitching a news story is key.

Which content works best?

Q&As and short comments work very well in Italy, often with no advertising support needed. Some of the key editors often run features on hot topics such as Industry 4.0 and send questions across to collect comments from different companies. This is a great way of securing thought-leadership coverage in the key titles; Italian editors would rarely have the time and resources to conduct the interview themselves, so written Q&As have become the norm.

Case studies also remain the Italian B2B journalists’ favourites, even better if the company involved is Italian.    

Traditional print-focused Italian B2B media is becoming more and more digital. This trend will give PR professionals unprecedented opportunities to create and place engaging content across different media channels and influence a range of audiences. Yet, personal relationships – and the art of selling – will always be key to doing trade and tech PR successfully.

 

Marco Giudici, PR Senior Account Manager, Technical Publicity 

 

References

[1] UCIMU

[2] Ministero dello sviluppo economico

[3] Rapporto 2016 - sull' industria dei quotidiani in Italia 


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