It is at risk of becoming a cliché, but it remains true to say that global organisations have in recent times faced a number of unprecedented challenges to their operations. The latter half of the past decade saw global trade wars, Brexit, fake news undermining trust in institutions, and now a novel coronavirus wreaking world-wide economic havoc. All of these risks pose significant operational and communications challenges as firms seek to plot a course through these hazards.
Consistency is often heralded as the cornerstone of a communications policy. However, how can firms be consistent when faced with the need to navigate the many eddying currents across the global stage?
Firms operating globally must comply with national regimes that can be conflicting, in addition to remaining live to political and social issues which can cut across borders, all of which is monitored by an international, evolving and sophisticated media landscape, which also varies by country or region. All of this complexity poses a challenge for global firmwide communications.
While it is crucial for firms to maintain a central identity and brand, and to resist local divergence which might dilute or even undermine this brand identity, this voice and message must equally be appropriate for and sensitive to local nuances. To walk this tightrope local market knowledge is key, as is actively leveraging feedback from each region. This knowledge should inform the firm’s communications strategy from the outset, rather than be shoehorned into an unsuitable or inflexible global template at the end. A ‘one size fits all approach’ isn’t going to achieve cut through, and a degree of localisation will often be essential.
These three considerations, while basic, are at the root of any successful global communications strategy, whether in a time of unprecedented challenge or crisis or not.
- Tone of voice and language – it sounds obvious, but investing in quality translations of any core materials with native speakers is crucial in order to appreciate local cultural nuances, or idioms that may not translate across borders that may affect the impact of the content. This is not a step to rush.
- Ensure the core narrative is clear – to succeed in a competitive global market and a tightly fought local market, firms will need a compelling narrative about who they are and what they offer. Understanding what this client offering is at the most fundamental level, and communicating the value that firms can offer to clients is key to this exercise.
- Don’t neglect social media - adapt your social media content by writing targeted messages by location, and time the posts to local time zones, or if budget permits, consider running multiple accounts for different countries, regions or service offerings. Be aware of local developments in each market and adapt your content plan whenever necessary in order to stay aligned with the target audience.
Organisations that remain flexible, proactive and committed to adapting and localising their messaging and content where appropriate, without deviating from their core identity or purpose, will be best-placed to achieve cut-through on the global scale.