For many global companies, a US market listing marks the culmination of their growth strategy. According to research from the University of Florida, over a quarter of total US IPOs since 2018 have been for companies headquartered outside of the US. This marks the continuation of a long-term trend: the same research finds that 1,145 international companies IPOed in the US between 1980 and 2022.
The reasons behind this choice vary with each company’s goals but in general the aim is to secure a strong valuation in US listed markets. Consequently, global companies’ marketing efforts should focus on building relationships with US business and investor media.
However, the US media is perhaps the world’s most challenging to reach. The market is crowded with sources and companies hoping to gain visibility. Newsrooms competing for readers or viewers need to be sure that their coverage is relevant to key audiences and keeps them interested. Taken together, this means that companies need to work to develop a story that aligns with reporter needs while serving their business goals.
This is a difficult task for a company with an operating business in the US. It is even more challenging when the company’s operations are based elsewhere in the world.
Yet many executives lack full awareness of the subtleties and challenges that face companies trying to break in with US media. While strong coverage on a variety of issues is possible, it comes as the result of a strategic, long-term approach. Ultimately, US media cares about their US readers first, and this must be kept in mind at every stage of the process.
In recent years, our work as a strategic communications firm has led RF|Binder to work with both public and private companies looking to build their reputations in the US. In these situations, the need to develop a high profile in media targeted to institutional and retail investors starts in the pre-IPO planning phase and continues once the company goes public. In creating a strategy, we focus on building a compelling, relevant platform for company leaders to speak to in the media. This means:
- Determining topics and areas that they can speak to with confidence and credibility.
- Developing sharp, engaging opinions on key issues in the news.
- Creating thought leadership content that speaks to the unique reasons why US media should include a company in their coverage.
In many ways, this approach differs little from our work with US based clients. However, the barriers are higher, and the process can take longer when a company has minimal visibility with US based media. To succeed, we focus on five key steps:
- Introductions. No matter how large the profile abroad: there’s a good chance that many target reporters have little or no knowledge of a non-US business. To address this, a media program should start with multiple introductory interviews. The company should collect and develop prep materials that include key stats and a clear view of their impact on the market. Executives should be able to explain their business model and story in a few sentences and why it is relevant.
- Engaging local bureaus. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best way for many companies to get into top tier US media starts at home. Outlets like Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times maintain substantial local presences in countries around the world. Before writing a story, many reporters reach out to the closest bureau to a company’s headquarters to try to get a sense of their on-the-ground reputation. Having no visibility with these reporters can end a story before it starts.
- Staying in touch. Once relationships are cultivated, the media program will need to provide consistent, ongoing touchpoints with target publications to maintain and deepen relationships. This means providing a steady stream of news content, including exclusives targeted at specific publications’ readerships. In some cases, it may even involve developing news exclusive to the US market, like the launch of a US website or the hiring of in-country executives.
- Aligning with business goals. Across these efforts, companies should ensure that they are working in a way that supports overall business goals. Key questions include:
- What audiences need to be reached as they pursue their go-to-market strategy in the US?
- How ready are US specific product offerings?
- What is the timing of an IPO and related regulatory quiet periods?
- Closing the deal. As relationships with reporters deepen, it can be helpful to provide media with an up-close view of company operations. This might involve a visit to US operations or invitations to local bureau reporters to company headquarters. In the case of an IPO, a company may see significant benefit from inviting target publications to their bell ringing or other day-of activities. It’s also vital to commit time to meeting with the media in the US, as possible. This may mean visits to newsrooms but could also include meetings at industry conferences or other events.
Voices from outside the US provide vital perspective for reporters and their audiences. But as is often the case, it’s hard to know when you’re missing a source you’ve never had. As a result, executives need patience and strategy when approaching the US market.