What to consider when rolling out global communications campaigns
With Brexit (potentially – possibly, maybe, never – who knows) round the corner, or for businesses looking for wider marketing opportunities, the need to expand out of domestic markets is an attractive prospect. As the world continues to shrink, and products become more global in nature, many companies have offerings aimed at target audiences that are no longer geographically located. This is particularly true in the tech space, where ‘growth’ – often with start-ups and mid-sized companies – is the goal.
Apart from the operational and logistical challenges this presents in delivering or selling products in different markets, the communication, marketing and PR challenge is a considerable one. The right model needs to be considered to deliver a consistence brand message, but also tailored for regional differences.
So, what are the key questions any self-respecting communications or marketing director should be asking themselves when expanding overseas?
Wholly owned agency or partnered network?
This age-old question often comes down to what you are looking for, the budget you have and the size and shape of your own organisation. If you are looking for an ‘all-in-one shop’, with standardisation across the board and potentially have a larger overall budget – then larger agency, wholly owned may be more suitable. If a tailored solution, and greater autonomy is more suited to your brand, then a like-minded partner network may be the best solution. What is key, is that the respective teams have both expert local knowledge and strong central co-ordination to manage across either an owned or partnered network. After that, the company fit and response to the challenge, as with any brief, should drive decisions.
Centralised content creation or in-country output?
At Babel we believe you need a little bit of both. First, central direction, planning and where required, creativity, to drive economies of scale and harmony of message. However, local agencies and consultants should be able to work together in harmony, and also independently. Regional teams creating localised campaign output with direction that is of a high standard, reflects a client’s messaging, but without deviating from global branding. The old cliché of ‘think globally, act locally’ almost certainly applies here.
Tight leash or free rein?
We have always taken pride in the fact that we’re able to clearly position our clients in terms of their category and target market, ensuring they stand apart from their competitors and their messages resonate with customers. This is something we have replicated time and time again across international markets by working closely with our partners and affiliates. To do this, local agencies need to be equipped with the content and messaging they need to drive campaigns in their domestic markets. At the same time, the local markets need the freedom and time to adapt, tailor comment and be involved in the creation of the content and campaigns which will run in their regions. Cultural sensitivity and local intelligence are key, and clients should use local teams to deliver this.
Regional approvals or central sign-off?
With media relations in particular, timing is everything – ‘speed and accuracy are crucial’ – as any good reporter will tell you. The same applies for content marketing to a lesser extent. For teams to be successful with the campaign that has so painstakingly been planned, being able to react quickly to events in region is a must. Waiting on a different market to wake up and sign something off, more often than not results in a lost opportunity – or the opportunity being taken by a more swept-up competitor. For campaign impact – divulge approval authority.
Local or central spokespeople?
The media want to speak to the most relevant person – and this, nine times out of ten is someone who is a representative of what is going on in that market – the local MD for example. They know the context, the market and speak the language. In short, they are far more attractive than someone from head office. The exception to this rule is the C-suite or exec team. Their use as spokespeople should largely reflect the scale and type of announcement being made. Rolling the C-suite out for everything reduces their importance. This comes down to global campaign planning, thinking about where and how they are used across markets – often supported by local spokespeople – so the C-suite can add weight to the message.
However you look to grow worldwide, making sure you have a team of experts guiding your communications expansion, who understand how global programmes and teams work together is essential. A team who can think globally at scale, but with local regionalisation and insight.
Babel has always had a strong global PR presence. Whether it’s delivering a launch in Japan, sharing ground-breaking news with influencers in Africa, or rolling out regional media relations campaigns in Europe and North America, we’ve been responsible for managing brand communications across global markets for well over a decade.
Drop us a line to discuss how Babel can help you cultivate your international communications strategy and help to build, and sustain your global presence.