Common Mistakes in International PR

With increasing globalization, more companies are engaging in global corporate communications. In some cases, international PR involves higher stakes and higher risks. As the size and location of the audience grow, you need to take into account many more potential issues and there are more opportunities for blunders.


Here are some common mistakes in global branding that can undermine your communication strategy:


1.    Top-down approach

Funding for PR overseas is usually determined by and comes out of the corporate HQ’s budget. Because of this, HQ executives sometimes try to get overly involved in global PR activities, in addition to allocating the money. It makes sense for executives to have some input global PR, but when HQ exercises strict control on all aspects of international PR efforts, the level of bureaucracy can be restrictive.


2.    Not adapting strategies to new country

Companies often wrongly think what worked well in one country will work well in other countries. Such an assumption will lead to impatience and unrealistic expectations.  If you have a successful PR strategy in the US, it won’t necessarily mean that the same success will be replicated in, let’s say, Burundi. A good international PR strategy takes into account market nuances in different societies. Taking on a new market requires the company to dig deep into research to understand the society and build a solid reputation through hard work and fostering new relationships.


3.    Not localizing content

The process of international PR involves an investigative process involved in having a strong understanding of the local context. It’s not just a matter of translating materials. Let’s take McDonald’s as an example. Each country has its own McDonald’s menu, which makes sense since each country is different in terms of its eating habits and dietary restrictions.


Companies need to be willing to put in time to localize their PR efforts to suit each target country. There needs to be an effort to shape the content and characteristics of the content to make sense for the country in question. By doing this, the campaign and message is more likely to resonate with the target audience.


4.    Long distance PR

Good PR is a result of relationships with reporters, journalists, local influencers and government officials, in addition to understanding the local market. A PR strategy that attempts to achieve these things long distance will be lacking. On the ground legwork is needed to have the most effective strategy and implementation.


5.    Improper translations

Check and double check that the translation you’re putting out is correct, otherwise all your efforts will be in vain. Don’t treat the translation of press materials as an administrative task.


6.    Being active in the market

Once you put the word out there that you’re going into a local market, make sure you display your commitment by being active in the area. Companies should aim to become assets to the community and support the local economy. This doesn’t always require large investment and time – all it requires is taking the initiative to respect the local market.

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