If your company operates on an international scale, managing public relations becomes a more energy intensive task. Here are some tips on how to effectively manage public relations on an international scale while sticking to the principles and aims of your company.
Be aware of local customs and sensitivities
While some practices and principles may be fine in one area, they may be seen as horrific or at the very least rude and disrespectful in other locations. It is important to know the most prevalent values and viewpoints of the demographic you are trying to relate to. It can be very hard to undo the damage done if public relations are not handled tactfully. Research and learn social customs before visiting a location. When locals see that you have taken the time to learn their ways, you will be seen in a more positive way than competitors that did not similarly take the time.
Meet a challenge head on
Avoiding or not commenting when a situation arises can make your company look dishonest and uncaring. When conflicts are met with an appropriate and conscientious response, your company will appear more professional and caring. However, when encountering a challenge or problem, this does not mean that you need to speak before you think. What it means is that a strategy to manage a challenge needs to be planned as soon as possible.
Negotiation skills are a must
All too often, when an issue occurs, both sides spend far too much time disagreeing and not enough time formulating a solution that is palatable for all parties. In some cases, negotiations can be far easier than one might think, because opposing sides often discover that they have more common ground than they originally thought if they actually take the time to look at opinions on both sides. At other times, negotiations might be quite difficult and will require a lot of time and effort. The ability to not give in more than you can during negotiations is essential for a business leader.
Giving back to the community
Many corporations are discovering the benefits of giving back to the communities that are integral to their success. This is accomplished in any number of ways. A company might sponsor a park for a neighborhood, conduct a fundraiser for a local charity, clean up a river, build schools, etc. Sukanto Tanoto of the RGE Group founded the Sukanto Tanoto Foundation in order to help better the lives and communities of the 50,000 workers his group employees throughout Asia and Indonesia. Some of the programs he has been a part of include providing further education for subsistence farmers so that they can implement more sustainable practices into their lives and those around them.
Respect and patience
Managing international business relations requires being able to respectfully interact with a wide variety of people. You need to be willing to go the extra mile so that people feel that you care about more than just profits. Essentially, you need to remember that in order to get respect, you usually have to give it. If it seems that you are giving more respect than you are receiving, it is best to exert some patience. Sometimes it can take awhile for a level of comfort to develop between new clients and colleagues. They also might not be as familiar with your culture and beliefs as you are with theirs. Warren Buffet is a perfect example of a businessman who has found success through exercising patience even during periods of volatility in the stock market. His conservative investment strategy allows him to experience slower and steadier gains while other investors are greatly swaying between large losses and large gains.
Being able to get your point across is a lot easier than it sounds. While an idea or plan may seem very clear in your mind, you need to make sure that you can communicate the idea or plan in a way that is easy to understand for your target demographic. This means carefully writing, planning, and rechecking any communication before it is released to others. Confusion results in errors, misrepresentation of events and ideas through media outlets, and more. Poor communication can ultimately lead to lost business opportunities, decreased share prices, and even bankruptcy if your customers turn against your company.
Putting your best image forward
In order to present the best image to the international public, a corporate head must have some charisma. They need to give the impression that they are more than just a corporate worker paid to say whatever they are told to say. A clean appearance, respectful and appropriate dress, and a good personality are all attributes that should be strived for. Self-confidence can help put your best image forward. Those that rise to the top of the corporate world likely have a healthy amount of self-confidence. Those that are rising in the ranks may need to brush up on their public speaking and networking skills in order to increase their level of self-confidence. An example of a charismatic and successful business leader is Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, who has a fun loving image that has helped her to rise to the top.
Pick your marketing team carefully
There is a great difference in approach to marketing when a company goes international. While your whole marketing team does not necessarily need international marketing experience, it is best to make sure that at least a few of your top marketing staff have experience working with a wide variety of people and cultures. This will be something to consider when hiring and planning your business strategy. Make sure that you are giving talented individuals the tools they need to create a good image for your company.
Keep up to date on news and events in your industry
Part of good international relations stems from keeping up to date on important news and breakthroughs in your industry. For example, if your competitors are introducing a more environmentally friendly way of manufacturing, it is best that you know as much as possible about it so that if you are asked for a response or confronted for not having the same technology, you will be ready to provide a respectable response. Reading trade journals and company blogs online is a great way to stay up to date on your industry.
Managing international public relations on an international scale is no small feat, but studying the strategies and successes of other business leaders in this area will provide a helpful guide as you continue to expand your company globally.
Guest writer Dave Emerson is a freelance writer who specializes in business advice in the digital age.