As more and more companies’ communications go global, more and more pitfalls emerge.
For me in Tokyo in 1994, it was an overhead projector that unexpectedly cut off 20 percent of the image of my client’s nifty new MPEG-2 chip. Journalists gasped, my client fumed, I got fired.
A quarter-century later, more is at stake and international terrains are even harder to traverse.
Here are unwise practices and attitudes that can undermine global communications:
1. “Americanitis” or “fill in the name of the country-itis.” Executives often mistakenly expect that the reputation they’ve spent years building will magically translate to local societies, adapt to prevailing market nuances and reach their targeted constituencies. Such an attitude suggests, erroneously, that the same PR tactics and strategies that work in the home market can be used abroad. It can also lead to impatience and unrealistic expectations. Like any “new kid on the block,” the company must build its reputation through hard work and establishing new relationships.
2. Corporate HQ overreach. Often, funding for a PR program overseas comes out of the HQ’s coffers. An HQ executive would probably seek involvement in those global PR activities, as well as a say in how the money is spent. That makes sense, but when corporate HQ exercises strict control and approval over every overseas action, bureaucracy handicaps the international PR effort.
3. Inability to localize content. This process goes far beyond translating materials. Think McDonald’s