I remember clearly the first time I took the London Tube. The aroma of Nutella and coffee from street vendors, mixed with cigarette smoke and gas fumes from the businessmen and buses became all too familiar. What I remember most about my first Tube ride in London, amidst the complicated maze of hallways and sea of people, were the Polish, German, Mandarin and Arabic conversations clashing all around me.
There are 6, 500 languages spoken around the world and an average of 150 languages in major metro areas around the United States. In fact, Mandarin has surpassed English as the most widely spoken language, Google tells me. Perhaps the reason my London Tube memory remains so vivid in my mind is because it’s a clear indicator of the world we’re living in today. These languages don’t merely represent a basic communication barrier, each language represents a different culture, values and understanding of the world. Having a multicultural, global approach to the most basic communications and public relations tactics is critical now more than ever.
Companies and entrepreneurs must think differently about how they communicate with their audience, whether it be via email, a landing page, newsletter, social media, press release or a simple advertisement.
To get started on the right path, here’s a brief break down of what global PR is and what it isn’t.
What International PR is
Highly global: When it comes to creating brand messaging, slogans, brand values - even the shapes and colors used to craft your logo - all of these elements should be understood and resonate universally, by individuals from all cultures. As an example, here are brand values and mission statements from the top most valued companies around the world:
- IBM’s brand values are “innovation that matters, for our company and for the world” and “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.”
- Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
- The Coca Cola Company’s mission is “to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through out brands and actions.”
- Google’s mission is “to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Hyper local: For brands looking to target a “global audience” it’s important to break down the specifics of what that means - which regions? Why? What do you want to say to this audience or get them to do? International PR is about hyper-localizing target markets with hyper-localized marketing and communications strategies. While the brand’s message and positioning should resonate on a global level - the public relations tactics should focus on the local push of this global brand message.
Forward-thinking: Ask any business development or innovation team what keeps them up at night and they’ll likely tell you that they fear the next big opportunity will be swept up by their competitors. Thinking about the next market or product opportunity is crucial to any business and it’s rooted in international PR success. As you work closely with your business development and sales teams, don’t limit PR tactics to the 2-3 markets that are showing huge success right now - ask what regions are poised for growth in the future and map out international PR campaigns accordingly.
Relevant: Hyper-targeting public relations tactics is a good first start to international PR success, but if the calls to action or news being generated isn’t relevant to the audience - what’s the point? International PR is all about honing in on who your hyper-targeted audience is, what are their likes, dislikes, where do they go for information, what social channels do they use the most, etc. (Here are 5 steps global brands must take before launching a social media campaign.)
What International PR isn’t
A Google translator: You may laugh or raise your eyebrows, but I’ve seen this happen before. Small businesses and companies, both located in the United States or in another region, try to Google Translate their advertisements, press release, emails and social content in hopes that they’ll get the attention of the market they’re trying to reach. What’s your reaction to these images? But the bigger point here is that international PR isn't just about converting a message into another language, but rather taking into account holidays, preferences, timing, cultural interests in order to effectively communicate a message.
One size fits all: This is probably biggest misconception of international PR and it’s the one that tends to hurt brand reputation the most. When incorporating different cultures and a global perspective into your existing marketing strategies, treating each market and culture the same way by using the same kind of tactic is not effective because these cultures and regions aren’t the same. This is why hyper-targeting audiences and tactics are essential to international PR success.
Disconnected from initial marketing and PR plan: It may seem that international PR has its own place in your marketing communications plan. By the time audiences are broken down and tactics and content are created to target those markets and ensure relevancy, it does appear to be its own beast. Still, marketing and communications tactics, from content and email automation to press announcements, media relations, social media and digital advertising must all map back to supporting sales goals and growing your business. It’s essential to keep international PR strategies connected with the initial marketing and PR plan, because both are one in the same - the right hand must know what the left hand is doing! In the end, each successful strategy and tactic will essentially map back to supporting business objectives.
Need help launching a global PR campaign or just looking for professional advice? Give me a shout, I’d love to talk with you.