One of the most difficult things in international PR is ensuring a consistent experience for clients wherever they interact with an agency. If done well, it can result in better client service, more creative thinking and greater economies of scale for clients. But if local cultural and professional considerations aren't taken into account the reverse is true.
I have spent most of my career working with PR professionals in other countries on accounts such as Hewlett-Packard. At previous agencies, many of the lessons about coordinating international programmes were learnt ‘on the job.' I was therefore surprised that Porter Novelli runs a dedicated ‘Achieving Excellence Across Borders' (AEAB) training academy that consolidates these learnings.
The AEAB course was created to ensure common standards for all of our international clients and is an ongoing programme attended by account managers and above. The goal is for all senior account handlers working on international business to graduate from the programme. The session I attended ran for two days covering cultural differences in working practices, financial planning for international accounts, the use of Compass, Porter Novelli's proprietary strategic planning tool and training on how to sell a PR agency's strongest asset - the combined talent of its people.
Consistent processes and common standards are a valuable part of the course but equally useful are discussions about the cultural differences in working practices as well as learning about the depth of expertise in the agency.
This level of training and education is more important than ever for PR professionals, given that a company's corporate reputation applies across many markets and its actions in one country can have a knock on effect in another. From a client's perspective, an agency with a consistent approach can offer greater insight, faster responses and make much better use of their resources.