As someone who defines himself as an ardent Francophile and ‘citizen of the world’, international connectedness is a notion that I have always espoused.
At The PR Office, I have the great privilege of working with a number of clients from around the world including the US, Israel and France. Working with international clients is not without its challenges – different time zones, less ‘face time’ with the clients – yet in spite of these hurdles, it is vital to see the exciting potential of working within a transnational framework. It provides us with an authentic understanding of how communication practices are carried out around the globe.
Working across borders is something that any PR with an enquiring mind should embrace. Here are some pointers to set you on your way:
1 – Utilise many of the different types of technology at your disposal in the bid to maintain high levels of communication and understanding with the client and their goals. From emails, group messaging and Skype to conference calls, blogs and Whatsapp, these channels of communication will not only ensure that everyone is on the same page, but also demonstrate a real sense of care and attentiveness;
2 – Take time to really interpret emails and other written forms of communication, even if the client speaks the same language as you. Having studied languages and lived in a foreign country, I have certainly become acclimatised to subtle linguistic nuances.
3 – Be absolutely meticulous in sticking to agreed ‘e-meetings’ or conference calls;
4 – Ensure that everyone in your team is aware of everything that is going on with that particular client. Internal communication in a team is just as important as external communication with the client.
Indeed, understanding the complexities of international public relations takes time, patience and a whole lot of practice. However, cross-cultural communication allows you to learn a lot about other cultural practices, opens you up to whole different perspectives and most fundamentally instils a true appreciation of how beautifully connected the world is.
All of this reminds me of a quote by the Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, who stated: ‘Language and culture are the frameworks through which humans experience, communicate and understand reality’.
C’est parti ! Embrace international complexity, don’t cower away from it.
Drew Salisbury is an Account Executive at The PR Office.