January 2020

When company communication must speak a different language

As we’ve alluded to in a previous post, when a business grows beyond the borders of its own country, communication, too, must be adapted to the rules of each new locality.

With good reason, therefore, many companies with international reach decide to rely on support from communication consultants based in the countries in question, trusting in their knowledge of the local dynamic.

This gives rise to international networks of partners, generally coordinated by clients’ marcoms functions, the latter sometimes also assisted by a ‘lead’ communication agency.

The approach makes all the difference

In the era of globalisation, what we’ve just described is, by far, the most prevalent model for managing communication in other geographies.

In our view, what determines its success – other than the client’s ability to engage – is also, and above all, the differing ways in which the local consultant can interpret their role.

In one sense, indeed, this can be limited to acting as a mere executor who simply ‘carbon-copies’ actions and tools devised by client HQ, which – more often than one might think – bear little or no functional value in the specific context of the geography concerned.

In this approach, there’s a rather likely risk of scoring a flop in no time at all, producing results that are unrewarding and, above all, unproductive for both parties.

Our experience, on the other hand, teaches us that – in this kind of partnership even more than in others – the consultant must always take the initiative and be proactive.

Nothing guarantees, for example, that a particular communication initiative, for all the success it may have met with in the US or Germany, will produce the same results in Italy.  It’s the job of the local consultant, therefore, to preemptively suggest what is the most appropriate communication tool to deploy, whether this be, say, a Customer Reference Program or a Thought Leadership strategy.

Neither should we lose sight, equally, of the importance of ‘localisation’, even if an initiative originating in another geography can be replicated in Italy. Content and messaging can require much more than just linguistic and stylistic adaptation, including – above all – a choice of approaches, channels and angles distinct from those used elsewhere.

Hunting down the opportunities

Moreover, the consultant must act as a veritable radar, monitoring and flagging opportunities that the client cannot pick up on, and swiftly proposing methods of engagement that will transform these opportunities into measurable results for visibility and market exposure.

For example, by briefing the client about a public debate on a topic they regard as strategic, it’s possible to elicit and capture their opinion and articulate it promptly to the media, thus enhancing brand awareness and reputation.

Or, indeed, bringing relevant and targeted business events to the client’s attention can enable them to participate via speeches and presentations, and thus develop their network.

All for one…

As part of a global team of consultants, all committed to the same client, willingness to compare notes and share ideas and experiences with colleagues from the other countries is fundamental.

By creating a common resource around successful initiatives, these can be borrowed, adapted and repurposed elswehere.  This creates a ‘virtuous circle’ that optimises the client’s investment and increases their overall satisfaction.

At BMP, this is exactly the approach we adopt to support our international clients, who rely on us to assist them in the development of communication strategies for our country.

This way, they avoid pitching those supposedly winning story angles that, if the client were left to their own devices, would leave journalists ‘angling’ for a quick getaway!

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