More and more businesses, particularly in Europe, are opting for cross-cutting organisational structures that will enable them to conduct business globally. International communication is vital due to the need to follow parallel strategies, transmitting the same messages and building a homogeneous brand in many different markets.
When we manage a global communication strategy and try to maintain a common line of action, the process becomes more complex with the participation from different players (external communication agencies, local area managers, etc.) The PR calendars are not the same as all the actions are “local” which many times implies separate product launches, national events and different results on reports from data that is market-specific.
Which is why today I want to talk about 5 tips that have helped me to manage our international PR.
Follow a 3-phase plan: global – local – global
The first and most time consuming step before starting our international communication activity is to focus on planning our action plan for the following year or six months. Our starting point will always be the PR or communication objectives we’ve set at the beginning of the year, both globally and for local markets. Some of these KPIs may be: number of appearances or mentions online, percentage of impacts versus spontaneous mentions, number of collaborations with influencers, growth of online community…
And now we start on the global part. Mark your calendar with annual dates or events to be included on your fixed calendar of international events. Share them with the rest of your team in each market so they can add them to their plans and potential ideas for local launches or communication.
The next step is to set up a local planning schedule for markets with communication agencies or the heads of each market. This will probably be a slower process, since each country has its own quirks, key events and desired formats. How can I organize it then? Here are my recommendations for the different elements making up the plan you should set up with your team.
- Collection of events to take place over the course of the next 6 months to a year that will exhibit our brand publicly (be it as speakers, developing joint content, stands at conferences, etc.)
- Compiling a list of dates from the local calendar: moments that can generate special communication opportunities. All countries have a series of key dates that can be good for communication actions (International Women’s Day, general elections, etc.)
- Proposals for actions associated with these events, dates or initial objectives. Let your communication agencies use their creativity for new proposals.
Once you have defined the actions to be included in your final communication plans with local teams and agencies, it’s time to start coordinating — and what’s most important for any Communication Manager: it’s time to delegate. Once the actions, dates, details and so forth have been defined, let your local teams take the reigns. Now you should start taking a global approach, tracking progress and measuring results.
Segment your database of contacts using geographic and language criteria
Before starting a PR campaign or action in an international setting, it’s essential to have an updated and segmented database of contacts. Particularly if you are working with a CRM or communication management software — which is best when you have many different teams around the world. In this case, it’s essential to apply filters for geographic location and language, both for the communication media entries as well as for your journalists and influencers. Context is always key to get accurate results.
This way, local teams can easily filter contacts by market or country. Sometimes communications are released from a specific country or market, such as “English-speaking” or “Hispanic” markets. Which is why a correctly segmented database allows use to streamline the the influencer identification process that may be interested in collaborating with something we are launching in a particular region.
Organise your PR team’s activity in a global calendar
When managing an international communication plan where global dates overlap with local ones — PR actions, interviews with journalists, events, product launches, etc. — it can be very difficult to stay on top of all of it and track each action properly.
Some months ago we talked about how to organise a calendar for PR content in our blog. However, apart from just scheduling content, a communication team management calendar is also necessary to link all of those actions together and enable you to search for specific dates according to markets. This will allow you to know who is responsible for a certain actions on a particular day and makes your global coordination much easier.
Have a standardised qualification system for all your impacts
When managing cross-company communication activities, it is common to present different results at the end of each quarter, six months or a year to show the return on your work on both a global and local scale.
Which is why it’s essential to set KPIs across all markets during the planning and kick off stage. If we don’t, we won’t be able to compare or measure global campaigns and properly analyse results.
At the same time, when it comes down to qualifying impacts for each country — from communication media, blogs or on social — it’s fundamental to have a standard criteria set beforehand. That will ensure that each PR manager or agency qualifies each mention the same way, using identical criteria. That will ensure accurate results in all of your reports.
Create global guidelines to explain everything to your teams to standardise reporting methods. PR managers and agencies should know the meaning of each parameter and how to carry out each qualification process. In the same way, meetings should be held every six months to check-in, refresh old concepts, apply new criteria and make sure all the teams are up to date.
Put together global reports and individual campaign reports to track your international communication
As we mentioned before, it’s very likely that as communication director you’ll have to report results for specific time periods that provide details from individual markets and also your performance globally. That’s the only way you can track your progress and work on areas that need improvement.
However, results are not obtained immediately in communication which is why it’s best to put the work in and make sure that you are recording all of your impacts daily. All of of this will come from social media reports. That way, when it’s time to present quarterly reports for PR and influencer engagement, reputation analysis and brand notoriety, you will have enriching details to share because you spent the time carefully monitoring and collecting your results.
Lastly — when the time comes to share these results with your team and the company’s management — it’s always best to present impacts from the media and blogs in a visually attractive way. It also needs to be easily understood for executives. Remember, it’s about showcasing all your effort and hard work. I like to use webzines and social media magazines as tools to create this effect since they allow me to organize my work and are responsive to any device.
And what about you? Do you have any tips to manage international communication? Leave me a comment, and let’s discuss!