Business success in any market is built on effective communications. How? By adapting the conventional approach and embracing a global, yet local mindset. Of course, significant variations are found between US and Asian PR tactics. Here are three considerations for practicing PR in the US or Asia:
1. Understand cultural differences. Effective communications begins when you have a sense of how business is practiced in each country. Have an open mind and be aware of those differences. Understanding the economic, political, and social environment of the other country will equip you not just for those witty water-cooler chats, but it will also strengthen your local interactions and media relations outreach.
2. The media holds the key here and over there. The media is no doubt vital to building a company's image and visibility. You must understand how to approach foreign media and target their interests.
For example, media phone interviews work in the US, but are rarely practiced in other countries. On the other hand, press conferences are an effective PR tool in Asia, but not as embraced by US reporters, who prefer one-to-one briefings, fresh news hooks, and generally don't accept invitations for sponsored trips. Some Asian media, on the contrary, welcome sponsored trips. In fact, some Chinese media expect "travel allowances" when attending press events hosted by companies.
3. Localization is essential. When most people think of Asia, they think
of countries like China, Japan, and India. But with more than 37 countries - home to nearly 4 billion people - localization is key. The US, with a population of 380 million, reflects distinct cultural differences from state to state, city to city.
The best way to disseminate messages abroad is to modify strategies and tactics to accommodate each country's style and perspective. For example, business letters and press releases should be written in the format of your host country (watch sequence of dates, British versus American spelling, traditional Chinese versus simplified Chinese, currency signs, and more).
Even if you're based in the country, consider leveraging local partners to customize your messages - in a genuine, culturally sensitive manner - to the local audience's needs.
When your initial foray into a new market hits the prime-time news and meets your communications and business objectives, then you're off to a great start. This is just the beginning, though. Critical to success is the planning and execution of ongoing, localized PR programs that tie into your company's larger strategic goals.
"Great bounty awaits your valiant efforts overseas," read a fortune cookie at the end of a recent delightful meal at a local Chinese restaurant. Indeed, it's true. Your commitment to new markets will yield wonderful experiences and your company long-term rewards in the global arena. Bon voyage!
Sharon Sim-Krause is EVP at GolinHarris and director of Panache, its Asian/Asian-American practice.