What Are Some Considerations for an International PR Campaign?
To help you navigate the complexities of international PR campaigns, we’ve gathered insights from a diverse group of professionals, including CEOs and digital specialists. From tailoring messages for cultural sensitivity to promoting shared learning and coaching, here are twelve key points to keep in mind.
- Tailoring Messages for Cultural Sensitivity
- Prioritizing High-Authority Publications
- Understanding Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
- Navigating Specific Cultural Differences
- Adjusting Messaging to Target Audience
- Collaborating with Local Influencers
- Avoiding National Stereotypes
- Identifying Major Influencers Abroad
- Engaging with Local Stakeholders
- Focusing on Crisis Management
- Testing and Building Brand Positioning
- Promoting Shared Learning and Coaching
Tailoring Messages for Cultural Sensitivity
When conducting an international PR campaign, my team and I tailor the message and delivery to cut across any specific cultural context, language, and tone to avoid misinterpretation or offense. We factor in our plan to remember that cultural sensitivity is not a one-size-fits-all concept because we want to build relationships with our target audience, local influencers, and media.
Prioritizing High-Authority Publications
When executing an international PR campaign, focus on creating a smart outreach strategy. Once you’re familiar with the media landscape and have a list of target outlets, prioritize pitching to high-authority publications first. Surprisingly, these top-tier sources tend to shy away from covering stories that have already received wide coverage.
To streamline your outreach efforts, clearly define what you offer to each publication and carefully time your pitches. By following this approach, you’ll increase your chances of securing impactful coverage.
Understanding Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
The most important thing to keep in mind while doing an international PR campaign is cultural and linguistic diversity. People from different places carry different cultural and linguistic backgrounds that might not be similar to yours.
When you meet people from foreign countries, it can get difficult for you to understand their accents and thoughts. By paying strong attention to cultural and linguistic sensitivity, you can create a positive impact and build trust among the audience.
So, it is always better to conduct a study on the cultural background of people with whom you are going to interact in the international PR campaigns. This will help you communicate and understand their perspectives in a more systematic manner.
Navigating Specific Cultural Differences
One important thing to keep in mind when doing an international PR campaign is cultural differences. What is considered appropriate in one culture may be offensive in another. It’s important to do your research and understand the cultural norms of the countries where you will be targeting your campaign.
Here are some specific cultural differences to keep in mind:
- Language: Make sure that your messaging is accurately translated into the local language. Even small differences in translation can have a big impact on the meaning of your message.
- Humor: Humor is a tricky thing to translate, and what is funny in one culture may not be funny in another. It’s best to avoid humor altogether if you are not sure how it will be received.
- Tone: The tone of your messaging should be appropriate for the target culture. For example, in some cultures, a more formal tone is preferred, while in others, a more casual tone is more appropriate.
Adjusting Messaging to Target Audience
When planning a PR campaign, one of the most important things to keep in mind is understanding your target audience. Depending on the country you’re trying to reach, you will need to tailor your messaging and approach.
Cultural nuances, language barriers, and even political climates should all be considered when developing an international PR strategy. Consider researching the country you’re targeting to get a better idea of their media landscape, consumer habits, and any other factors that might influence your campaign.
Once you have a better understanding of who you’re trying to reach, you can create content that resonates with them and increase the chances of your PR message being heard.
Collaborating with Local Influencers
With international PR campaigns, one strategic move is to collaborate with local influencers. These influencers, who have already built trust with their audience, can significantly boost your campaign’s reach and impact. They understand the local culture, language, and trends, enabling them to convey your message in a way that’s both relevant and appealing to their followers. Leveraging local influencers can lead to increased brand awareness, consumer trust, and potentially, a better conversion rate.
Avoiding National Stereotypes
Stay away from national stereotypes, even the seemingly harmless ones. This is a golden rule when conducting an international PR campaign and adapting it to different countries. What is acceptable in one culture might be offensive in another.
Consider the infamous Dolce & Gabbana #DGLovesChina campaign from 2017. Social media posts intending to promote D&G’s upcoming fashion show in China sparked controversy about racism against the brand. The posts showed an Asian model attempting to eat various Italian foods with chopsticks. The campaign was considered tone-deaf and condescending to Chinese culture. It caused a social rage, and Chinese consumers have never forgiven D&G. The cancellation of the brand in China is a scandal with staying power.
Seemingly innocent or funny things in one culture can evoke strong negative emotions in another. Cultural sensitivity is the top priority—respect your target audience’s cultural norms and values.
Identifying Major Influencers Abroad
One thing to keep in mind when doing an international PR campaign is to be aware of who the major influencers in that country are. You must know the most influential publications, the best types of communication to use to be seen, and understand who you will compete with.
It is also key to know what is considered newsworthy. For example, a story that is popular in Canada might not apply to those in the UK. Also, pay attention when reaching out and be aware of public holidays and holy days, which differ from country to country and region to region.
Engaging with Local Stakeholders
Engaging with local stakeholders, such as government officials, industry leaders, or community groups, is crucial for the success of an international PR campaign. It helps build trust, establish partnerships, and navigate challenges.
For example, in a PR campaign promoting sustainable tourism in a foreign country, collaborating with local environmental organizations and government agencies can provide credibility and insights, ensuring the campaign aligns with local sustainability initiatives. By actively involving stakeholders, the campaign can overcome cultural barriers, gain support from influential figures, and drive positive impact.
Focusing on Crisis Management
Crisis management is the most important part of an international PR campaign due to the potential widespread impact of any crisis. A single mishap can quickly escalate, damaging the brand’s reputation across multiple markets.
Understanding local social norms, values, and differences is vital in preparing the crisis management plan. Each response must align with the societal context to avoid further escalation.
Equally important are the legal and tax implications of crisis responses. Missteps can lead to public relations issues and legal complications. Understanding the local media landscape helps with effective crisis communication. Identifying the right channels ensures swift, transparent, and wide-reaching communication.
Lastly, measuring the effectiveness of crisis responses through metrics allows for continual improvement. The data-driven approach ensures the brand becomes more resilient.
Testing and Building Brand Positioning
One thing to keep in mind when doing an international PR campaign is your brand positioning. For example, your company might be popular in the US; however, foreign audiences may be unaware of your brand and what you can offer. So, think about your positioning and test it, as intentions can be misconstrued and communication can be easily misinterpreted.
This is why you should create a culture profile for each country you’re trying to target with your messaging. Pick a few reputable news sources and their audiences, and choose one or two simple messages to create your consumer engagement around.
Relay these messages constantly in your news releases, flyers, billboards, advertisements, and more. This should help build your brand to foreign customers.
Promoting Shared Learning and Coaching
Everyone can learn, and everyone can teach in a period when workers change roles more frequently and flexibly, and develop in different ways. Utilize this by developing a shared curriculum that your staff members may contribute to and use to teach from.
Skills exchanges illustrate democratized development, where everyone has something to offer and is always learning. Another option is to build a peer-to-peer coaching environment. Peer-to-peer learning can increase success rates and confidence, according to one study.
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