The internet has transformed the way companies operate. They can scale up to reach a global audience from just a desk and computer (ok, the desk is optional). There are no mountains, rivers or seas high enough, wide enough or deep enough to stop them reaching their audience – whether that be customers, partners, investors, or stakeholders.
With access to the internet, the only real barrier is that of language. Cloud services and mobility have made access to computing resources even easier. Companies don’t need to invest a fortune in an IT infrastructure, back-up, storage or computational power to operate a business anymore.
But how can companies connect at both a 1:1 level with customers, whilst also maintaining an international appeal and have geographical reach?
Developing messages and PR campaigns that work on both levels is not without its challenges. According to leading advertising pioneer Sir John Hegarty, creating communications to scale ultimately weakens messaging. He recently told The Independent, “Globalisation has made it hard. I have to create a piece of communication that works not only in the UK but in Malaysia, in Germany…and all the vested interests are hard to convince.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that all global PR campaigns will need to be watered-down to work. There are two key challenges in developing and executing international campaigns: firstly, communications professionals need to develop a campaign that can work both locally and internationally; secondly, they need to understand and effectively communicate with the various decision-makers within the business (who will often represent various geographic regions).
With these things in mind, do businesses always have to sacrifice effective and creative PR campaigns so that it can fit a one-size-fits-all approach for all its targets markets?
Having lived, studied and worked across various markets in the US and the UK, I have realised that the most effective campaigns are developed by teams made up of diverse backgrounds and diverse knowledge.
When working with a team made up of individuals from different international backgrounds, you’re not limited to a singular viewpoint. International teams are more adaptive to trends and have a better understanding as to whether an integrated campaign will work across some or all of the targeted markets. On the flip-side, international teams have the unique ability to adapt campaigns to meet various regions’ needs. And finally, through creative conflict and the collection of diverse perspectives, you will find improved creativity, problem-solving and decision within international teams.
In terms of communicating with the various decision-makers during the campaign development and execution stages, an international team will overall be better at liaising with foreign decision-makers and other relevant parties. The team will provide more effective customer service by understanding and accommodating the various groups and needs. More importantly, they will be more convincing when putting campaign ideas forward. As a result, more creative ideas will make it through the approvals process.
As a result of globalisation and technology trends, the world as we’ve known it has changed and will only continue to do so. Businesses must be able to speak to their various markets on both a local and international scale—but without watering down the key messages.
Global businesses need a PR team that can effectively communicate to all targeted audiences on both levels. At Firefly we understand that having an international team to support PR campaigns is important to future business success (a third of our own team in London is from outside the UK!). The benefits of incorporating an international team simply makes good business sense—you need to choose a communications team which can help you communicate effectively across the globe and let you get on with helping your business take on the world.
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