A Passport to International PR

September 10, 2018

Even when you’re a household brand name like Trex, things can get lost in translation. Ove

r the past decade, the leading manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing has focused on expanding its global footprint. Today, Trex products are available in more than 40 countries. As the PR agency of record for Trex, the LCWA home PR team has been at the forefront of introducing and driving preference for the brand in these new markets through public relations, specifically by maximizing earned media coverage across priority markets including Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Successfully executing PR on an international level takes strategy, advanced planning and a little local insight. Through our involvement in the Public Relations Global Network, we have had the pleasure to partner with some of the finest independent firms in the world, who act as extensions of our LCWA account team. In essence, we are the central hub for Trex global public relations, providing strategic direction, developing core content, and ensuring brand consistency, while our agency partners serve as in-market experts, offering local insight and customization to ensure our approaches and materials reach and resonate with their intended audiences.

While we aim to promote and deliver one brand everywhere, we have learned that one size does not fit all when it comes to international PR. Here are a few tips and tricks for achieving PR success on a global scale:

1. Be Aware of Brand Awareness. 
In the U.S., Trex has been virtually synonymous with composite decking since the company first invented and introduced the concept back in 1996. While the brand has earned enviable brand awareness domestically, international awareness is a much different story. In fact, the whole idea of wood-plastic composites (WPC) is relatively new to international audiences – thus impacting the direction, tone and focus of our global outreach.

2. Know the Market. 
We learned quickly that expanding internationally would require much more than just expanding our media distribution lists. Each of Trex’s priority markets came with its own unique set of characteristics and challenges. Beyond the anticipated cultural and lingual differences, each market had distinctive distribution channels and product offerings, as well as differing levels of understanding of and receptiveness to WPC products. For example, German consumers are avid DIYers but need proof of product quality and performance, while French consumers value eco-friendly products and prefer to enlist professional contractors to build their decks. These insights influence the focus of our messaging when developing programming and materials for each market.

3. Master the Language. 
While in most of the markets we target for Trex, English is widely understood and used, differences in diction and nuances in enunciation play a key role in communicating and establishing Trex as culturally authentic. Our agency partners lend their local expertise by customizing materials to reflect local trends, expressions and colloquialisms. For instance, where we often compare Trex decking to wood in the U.S., our partners in the UK and Australia refer to “timber” instead. Additionally, a “garden” in the UK can refer to a deck or patio, not just a bed of flowers or vegetables. In Germany, “decking” translates to “outdoor flooring.” But our favorite phraseology by far is the reference to “secret fixings” in the UK when referring to the Trex Hideaway hidden fastening system. It sounds like something straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel.

4. Appear Authentic. 
It’s not enough to use the right words – the right images are important as well. We learned early on in our international expansion process that pictures of elaborate, multi-tiered Trex decks with vast ocean views did not necessarily resonate with consumers in France, Germany and the UK where backyards are much more modest in size. Landscape, too, has to be considered. For instance, we can’t provide our Australian PR team with outdoor living images that have evergreens or maple trees in the background. This attention to detail allows our international teams to provide media with suitable images, increasing opportunities for coverage. In some cases, we have worked with our agency partners to source local photographers and coordinate market-specific photo shoots to capture imagery that is truly authentic and relatable.
A strong sense of brand combined with attention to cultural distinctions have been the driving forces behind our international expansion efforts for Trex. Through seamless collaboration with our agency partners, we have been able to successfully drive awareness and preference for Trex in all of its key markets. Vive le Trex!