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The importance of cultural sensitivity in international PR

Posted by Kiran Saini on 15th June 2018

On Wednesday night I attended the first panel discussion for the PRCA International Communicators Group, which looked at managing multi-market communications programmes from the UK.

Hosted by our very own Agency Development Director, Chris King, the discussion brought together a mix of communications specialists from a range of sectors to share their experiences on managing communications campaigns on a global scale: Ken Leitch, Head of Global Communications for BP Lubricants (Castrol); Anna McLean, Partner and Director, Lansons; Greg Morsbach, Director Of Corporate Communications, Herbalife Nutrition; and Marcus Sorour, VP international client services, WE.

As someone who manages international campaigns for clients at Wildfire, specifically across EMEA, I was keen to develop my understanding on the different approaches and skills needed to manage multi-market programmes, as well as learn best practices from some of the best in the industry.   One topic that kept cropping up in the discussion was cultural awareness and sensitivity.

The panel made it clear that communications teams working in global contexts, be it internal or external, need to give priority to cultural awareness and should have a solid understanding of localisation.

Successful international campaigns rely on local knowledge and simply translating your company’s messaging or strapline isn’t enough. The point you are trying to make might get lost in translation and this can have devastating consequences for the brand’s reputation.

Recognising the importance of cultural diversity and letting this diversity enrich communication is clearly a key challenge for comms professionals. But by developing cultural understanding and sensitivity among executives and employees through education and learning it’s possible to make a difference.

This panel promises to be the first of many from the PRCA’s International Communicators Group and I’m looking forward to attending more in the coming months to build and enhance my overall understanding of the world of international PR.

Kiran Saini

With a degree in Communication and Media Studies from Brunel University, Kiran has gained invaluable experience of the media industry following her internships with a magazine publishing company based in London and an entertainment PR agency in Richmond. Her most recent internship, however, was with Wildfire where she got a real taste for tech PR. Her passion for media coupled with her new found interest in tech helped her secure a permanent position at Wildfire in January 2016.