„The press is the enemy!“ – Interview on entering the US market

6 minutes reading time

Our chief partners Fady El-Murr and Jens Schmitz talk about entering the US market and the internationalization of pressrelations. In a time when the transatlantic relations are not exactly at their strongest, pressrelations brings its business to the US market.

The question is why we choose now to venture a leap across the pond.

Fady: The US market has long been part of our strategy, and this year we have been presented with a very good option. Along with an opportunity to offer our services to the American customers, we have also fulfilled a major wish of our international customers to have a local representation in the US.

Jens: With the current state of the international relationships, as corny or polemical as at sounds, we shouldn’t forget that without the US we would not have the democratic Germany of today nor the united Europe. We also hope that the foundation of this transatlantic partnership remains solid and can outlast a single presidency.

Fady: Also, as a medium-sized business, we humbly strive to do our part in promoting rapprochement through cooperation with our American colleagues and customers.

Jens: In view of the extreme contemporary relevance we need to take a closer look at history and realise that America has given the world more people than we might think who have had a great impact on our culture and our free, democratic way of thinking. And now, some of these ‘American ambassadors’ decorate the walls of our offices in Düsseldorf and Berlin.

Who are these Americans?

Jens: These are the historical photographs of Bobby and John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Charlie Chaplin, Hemingway and Jesse Owens, to name a few. So, basically personalities who contributed to shaping our perception of America, but who also have not always been on good terms with America, to put it mildly. Incidentally, this mutual relationship illustrates the ambivalence and the inner conflict of this nation.

In our entrance hall we have a light box with a picture of Richard Nixon’s ‘departure’ from the White House accompanied by his quote “…never forget: the press is the enemy! The press is the enemy! The press is the enemy!” This picture is a prime example of investigative journalism which inevitably led to resignation of an American president. It symbolises freedom of press, and the free press is the eternal bogeyman of the populists! The current debate about the so-called ‘fake news’ in America or the ‘lying press’ in Germany is a good illustration of that. In reality, it is not all new and unprecedented, as we often hear… What is new, however, is the influence that Social Media now has. Fake news does exist, but more often than not it originates on Social Media and not in the traditional media publications such as the New York Times or CNN which have to abide by the journalistic standards.

pressrelations chief partners Fady El-Murr and Jens Schmitz

Fady: As a media monitoring company we strive to provide our customers with certain criteria for credibility of media coverage which go hand in hand with the reputation of the media publication in the traditional sector and with the reputation of the influencer in the Social Media sector. Therefore, the principles and the structure of our NewsRadar®, which puts these three dimensions – news/medium/influencer – in the foreground, are a very good fit for the American market.

Jens: But what we are really excited about is being able to evaluate US media sources as well as the opportunity for further development of our solution for early topic recognition FirstSignals® created in partnership with Handelsblatt. Thanks to the huge expansion of our US media set we now have even more data that we can analyse and create even better market comparisons. We will be publishing our first results shortly.

Haven’t pressrelations always been able to monitor American media sources?

Jens: Of course. Thanks to our partner network we have been able to provide an almost complete coverage of US print media, just like any other media source in almost any country. Prior to the take-over we had already expanded our online media set for the existing customers who now have access to over 15.000 US media sources, monitored by our own crawlers, and can be further expanded to fit specific customer needs.

Fady: The difference between the US market and our other international branches in Russia, Ireland or Switzerland is that in those markets we do have a contact person for our German customers, but we do not monitor those regions directly. The work there is done by our independent system partners. They make great use of our production software and the customer frontend NewsRadar®X and successfully combine it with their extensive market expertise. Whereas in the US we have integrated a company with extensive experience and numerous customers directly into pressrelations.
Jens: However, along with the experienced employees we have also acquired a new source of inspiration for further product development.

But why choose Texas and not California?

Fady: Our offices are in Austin. The city is often called the Silicon Hills with a nod to the characteristic landscape in the western region. Not only are all the tech giants represented here, the start-up culture is also flourishing. But Texas in general keeps growing into a technological base. Austin hosts a number of conferences which give important impulses to our business sector in particular. For example, the SXSW Conference by Southwest which has become the benchmark for the biggest trends of the digital sector, or the PRSA International Conference which is described by its organisers as an exchange platform for media and technology.

So, this journey to the West is not only about customer acquisition, but also about new inspiration for product development?

Jens: Yes! It is part of our nature to take our solutions and develop an optimal hybrid approach as a perfect blend of human and artificial intelligence so as to offer the best possible product to our customers.
Fady: A study on competitiveness by World Economic Forum aptly titled The Global Competitiveness Report concludes that Germany is the most innovative country in the world. Germany offers the best conditions for facilitating an innovative development of an idea from its conception all the way to the marketing stage. The US and Switzerland follow closely behind. However, looking at all the criteria, Germany lands in the third place behind the US and Singapore in the competitiveness ranking.

Global Competitiveness Index World Map

Despite the protectionist trade policies and the shortcomings of the social security system, the World Economic Forum sees America in a leading role. There is no other country on Earth as entrepreneurial as the US!

Jens: Our goal is to have representations in the markets where the technological and quality standards are very high, and we have achieved just that with our system partner in Switzerland and our entry into the US market. These are the only challenging and innovative market environments where we can learn something new and keep improving.

What about Singapore, then?

Fady: We’ll see what the future holds…

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