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Should global brands take a global or local approach to PR?

29th October 2013


The management of international campaigns is a fairly complex issue. A top down dictatorship approach of "run this campaign and don't ask any questions" seem to be in the minority, but international brands clearly have to balance the requirement for a united global message, with the need to be sensitive to local cultures, tastes and laws.

PRmoment put on a local v global PR seminar last week which discusses these issues. Joe Hanley, director of external communications, Europe IBM talked us through the IBM at 100 campaign. This highlighted the need to empower local teams to make decisions within the internationally agreed criteria of the campaign – Transformational leadership, Innovative Technology and Societal Impact.

Activities that tied in with these values were encouraged; activities outside of them were not.

Waggener Edstrom’s, Cairbre Surgre talked about the importance of relevancy in global communications. This requirement for brands to empathise with their local audience is fundamental for communications to be successful. Amusingly, Cairbre highlighted the awkwardness of Boris Johnson and George Osborne’s visit to China as an example of how not to communicate to a local audience.

Personally I found the mayors and chancellors visit to china to be a bit more than just awkward, it was verging on embarrassing and rather than building bridges with any potential Chinese partners, I suspect it was more likely to have had the effect of irritating them. But the UK government have highlighted the importance of thought, strategy and empathy in international public relations.

Steven Haywood, eBay, discussed the paradox of structuring international campaigns. Stephen talked through the need to balance the global priorities of reporting, control and consistency with the local need for flexibility and relevance.



Here is a brief video capturing some takeout’s from the night.

Local v Global PR: Do global campaigns affect the creativity of PR? from PRmoment on Vimeo.

Our thanks go to our event partners Waggener Edstrom for helping us to put this seminar together.

This post was written by Ben Smith, you can find me on Linkedin, on Google and on Twitter.



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