Yesterday evening the PRCA International Communications Group hosted their inaugural event, Managing Multi-market Communications Programmes, held at WE Communications.
With Byfield looking after a number of international clients and managing an active international network of like-minded specialist legal PR partner agencies, I was keen to go along to hear from other agencies and corporates about how they approach it.
The excellent panel was chaired by Chris King, Agency Development Director at Wildfire. Chris was joined by Marcus Sorour, VP International Client Services at WE Communications; Anna McLean, Partner and Director at Lansons; Ken Leitch, Head of Global Communications at BP Lubricants; and Greg Morsbach, Director of Corporate Communications at Herbalife.
The discussion started with what structure the panelists used to deliver international communications programmes. Similarly to Byfield, the favoured approach is hub and spoke, but all of the panelists stressed that one size doesn’t fit all. Every international client and project will have different demands and communications will need to be scaled up or down and support tailored for each individual client and country.
Creating content centrally and delivering it in-country by people on the ground is the overarching approach for implementing communications internationally, but it was underlined that every story needs to be told in a specific way for each specific market. This resonates with our experience in the legal sector - adjustments always have to be made, and not just the language. Thought leadership on legal developments and trends must be communicated in a way that addresses the specific position of the particular country the communications are going out in, as well as the effect of the particular topic on that country, it's people and it's businesses.
Related to this is the importance of being empathetic to issues on the ground in each country the communications are being rolled out in. This is where having people in-country and listening to their knowledge and opinions is vital. It is equally important for those in the hub to read up and gain knowledge of the local markets in which the spokes are operating. Together, this ensures you know how your messages will best resonate in each country.
Also important for the successful and streamlined delivery of international communications programmes is for frameworks to be set-up that everyone is aware of and follows. One example was for product announcements to be cleared centrally before being sent to the in-country general counsel. The most obvious example from our experience in the legal sector is conflicts. It is of the upmost importance that everyone delivering the international communication knows the conflicts process and doesn’t progress media opportunities unless conflicts have been checked.
Other tips shared included setting KPIs across the jurisdictions so that everyone is clear on what the expectations are, and utilising technological tools - but make sure they work in all markets and everyone is using them!
Finally, and my favourite, was to remember that at the heart of international communications programmes are the people - in-house, at the hub agency and at the spoke agencies. Good relationships are key.