All it takes is just over two hours by train from St Pancras to get to Paris, and find yourself in a culture that is both very familiar and yet very different.
The English Channel and Brexit are not the only factors separating these two major European financial centres. A recent KPMG report revealed that in one year, investment in UK fintech has increased sevenfold, amounting to £27.5 billion ($37 billion) in 2021. This represents a significant amount of funding as the UK attracts more investors for fintech than the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) combined.
This huge level of interest and financial disparity means that PR opportunities for fintechs can be far more impactful (in terms of numbers) in London than in Paris and the rest of EMEA.
Beyond investment, the other major contrast between the two cities’ approach to PR is the use of, and emphasis on creativity in earned media strategies.
Harnessing the power of creativity
Quite often, one finds that Parisian PR agencies— whether they are small boutiques or the Paris office of a large US agency — are less inclined to utilise creative strategies than their UK counterparts.
In fintech, Parisian agencies use very similar strategies as they would for more traditional finance, such as for investment banks or stock exchanges. This means more written than verbal communication, such as deliverables produced on PowerPoint with a lot of data and figures. Tools that leave more room for creativity, such as video or even podcasts, are not often favoured or not always seen as potentially usable formats.
Creativity is all the more essential in fintech PR because it is a market with several challenges: a very competitive landscape between major established players, emerging startups, and the arrival of some traditional institutions who see new market opportunities in using the same fintech toolkit as their digital-born competitors. Creativity, therefore, becomes a key differentiator — allowing fintech brands to stand out.
Creative PR and marketing for fintech is now essential in raising awareness of the problem they are solving, while making it accessible not only to the media but also to an audience who have little or no awareness about the sector.
While the fintech sector is very innovative, it is still emerging in many aspects, which means there is always a need for fresh, creative campaign ideas to educate the market. In this regard, Parisian PR agencies are significantly on the back foot, with London agencies already taking a distinct lead here.
Closer and less formal media relations
Beyond the difference in creativity, the approach to media relations is also different — both in fintech and across the whole media spectrum. French publications are more interested in the traditional financial sectors, not because of a lack of interest in fintech, but because there seem to be fewer journalists dedicated to the genre in France than in the UK.
More generally, the relationship between brands, their PR agencies, and the media is perceived differently. Although it isn’t possible to say that relations with the media in France are always very formal, the relationship is often more casual in the UK. In Britain, journalists are not just bridges between companies and publications, there is a more symbiotic and less transactional approach, hence the need to build strong relationships.
Thus, because there are fewer journalists dedicated to fintech and media relations are more formal, media coverage in France will be more focused on big stories such as large fundraising announcements rather than on the technology itself. Even by taking a look at the French president’s social media posts about fintech, you’ll find that the vast majority of them will be articles announcing big fundraising or valuations of French startups. If you type the term “French unicorns” on Google, the first result will be an article about the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron celebrating national companies valued at over a billion dollars. It is therefore clear to see that these sorts of stories take more priority for the French media.
A plurality of PR cultures
As each country has its own distinct culture; so too does its media and thus the way PR professionals have to interact with journalists. As many brands seek to be global, it is even more important for PR teams and agencies to think locally. They must address how the story will need to be approached country by country, and the best tactics that need to be employed to ensure success.
Beyond subject matter expertise, a plurality of cultures is necessary to ensure a successful, global campaign. With a diverse team from many different geographies, this is something we take to heart at Gallium — ensuring perfect execution of creative PR and marketing campaigns on both a local and global scale.