Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Global Village PR

“Good PR is always context and culture specific. The idea of a global PR is anathema” - debate statement

Great debate today revolving around global vs local PR. Is good PR always context and culture specific or can you also practice an efficient and effective international or global PR?

Both teams brought great arguments to support and defend their sides, but at the end I think we all could basically agree that good PR is neither exclusively global, with no regards to cultural aspects, nor just locally oriented.

International PR has become a 'hot topic' within the last decade or so, receiving a lot of attention from all sorts of specialists trying to untangle its complex dimensions. And a lot of these specialists have gone about the process of defining it, but like in the case of the PR field itself, no unanimous consensus has appeared. No mega-definitions such as the one Rex Harlow designed for PR exists, but attempts to capture the domain's essence have been made. In "Public Relations, Strategies and Tactics", Dennis Wilcox suggests that International PR might represent the "planned and systematic efforts of a company, institution or government to establish mutually beneficial relations with other nation's publics." (Wilcox 2003, p. 378)

Its ascent as a distinct sector of PR was stimulated by factors such a global social-economic changes, new media technologies - everything from computer networks, satellite transmissions, e-mail, Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth to blogs, webcasts or RSS feeds - and globalization. But there are also a series of factors that condition international PR's top position, and local expertise is the key one.

Developing and implementing an international PR campaign is not at all an anathema idea, but doing it without a clear understanding and acceptance of local cultures is. International public relations cannot and should not be separated from international cultural relations. And Carl Botan said it best when stating that "International public relations are intercultural public relations" (Botan, Hazleton, 2006)

If international PR specialists don't adapt their messages to the local public's cultural specifications, these messages will never reach their targets properly. And what better example than Chevrolet's failed attempt at launching Chevy Nova in Latin America. Had they done their research properly and taken cultural aspects into consideration while planning their campaign, they would have learned that 'no va' translates to 'it doesn't work' in Spanish. Now, who in their right mind would want to buy a car that *doesn't work*?

Another factor that proves to be essential for the success of international PR is mass-media. Authors such as  Doug Newsom (2003) or J. Hendrix (2007) have made it clear that an efficient international and intercultural communication process is not possible without the help of local, regional and international mass-media. And let's not forget social media, which plays a vital and essential role in global PR and whose merits have been discussed in a previous post.

To sum up, in today's "Global Village", PR efforts and procedures must be based on a mixture of global processes and local understanding, all assimilated under a very culturally aware, yet broad minded practice.

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Ralu said...

Even though I believe "Think global act local" is overrated to some extent, "adaptation" is and will always be a key word for any international company.
You are right when you say “If international PR specialists don't adapt their messages to the local public's cultural specifications, these messages will never reach their targets properly”.
Talking about media relations, press releases with no local angles rarely receive attention from gatekeepers in the media. This makes me think about the “An inconvenient truth” campaign you previously wrote about…Such news releases are “irrelevant”.

Laura said...

I totally agree with you. Even if a PR campaign is thought of as a global one it should adapt to the local environment to some extent to become really efficient.

Roxana said...

Glad to hear your thoughts on the matter since I know you've both had experience with international PR campaigns.

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