4 Best Practices for Smarter Global Digital Communications


Sabrina Horn

Like it or not, you’re now a technology company.

Probably not the lead you were expecting for an article on global communications, right? But the omnipresence of all things digital and social means that every business, regardless of product or service offering, is a technology company. That means customers expect to be able to connect to your brand—any time, any place. As a result, the traditional lines of geography and culture are often blurred.

What does that mean for communications pros? Well, for those looking to expand worldwide, it means the need for coordinated global strategies is higher than ever. One size does not fit all when it comes to multinational campaigns, and with customers already engaging your brand on the digital front, it’s important that your local efforts supplement—not combat—this always-on presence.

With that said, here are four tips to help ensure your communications resonate across all markets:

  1. Don’t Start Before You’re Ready. Companies often start multinational communications before they’re fully prepared. It might sound obvious, but you can’t cut and paste campaigns from one country to another. No matter how smart your global strategy is, you need to meet three requirements before starting any regional campaign: local customers; local, native spokespeople; and native-language content. 

  2. If you meet these criteria, start by researching the key factors specific to each market, including: consumer behavior; linguistics; cultural differences; technology trends; and market maturity. Don’t overlook the small stuff, either, and pay special attention to language. For example, in the U.S., a mobile device is often referred to as a cell phone, but try that same term in Asia and your marketing might fall flat—the preferred term there is mobile phone or hand phone. It’s a  small detail, but one that could ultimately make or break your campaign.

  3. Coordinate Your Strategy on a Global Level. This point can’t be overstated. Domestically, you’re probably already focused on integrating your online and offline efforts, but by expanding internationally, you’ve introduced a whole new set of campaigns and channels that need to be woven into your existing communications mix.

  4. To be consistent, consider creating a task force of sorts: a small, dedicated team of trusted, experienced global communications practitioners who can take the lead in developing singular, cohesive strategies. This team can also serve as execution champions for your global communications goals and provide needed support and advice to local teams, without being hindered by day-to-day minutiae.

  5. Choose the Right Insiders. When it comes to international communications, companies often run into one of two scenarios: too much red tape (most common when working with a big multinational agency), or poor accountability (often found when your domestic firm’s global capabilities turn out to be no more than a referral network).

  6. That’s why it’s important to take your time in selecting overseas partners. Local insight is an irreplaceable asset in global communications, whether it’s instinctively knowing which media and influencers to target, what channels to devote extra time/resources to, or what creative idea is most likely to resonate with local audiences. This type of on-the-ground expertise is what causes marketing to break through, so look for partners with proven relationships, experience and execution.

  7. Centralize Your Reporting. Successful campaigns require the ability to analyze, refine and adjust campaigns in as close to real time as possible—a problem often magnified when operating on a global scale.

  8. Most importantly, configure your reporting solution to quickly deliver only the key metrics needed to make optimization decisions, rather than trying to wade through every piece of data available. Also, be sure your reporting tool can integrate all the languages, currencies and country-specific data relevant to your campaigns—it’ll save you time and ensure you’re making accurate comparisons.


Global communications doesn’t have to be a guessing game. The challenges—campaign coordination, multiple partners, variations in languages, cultures and customer behavior—are great, but combining coordinated global strategies with local expertise provides a roadmap for each new market. And in a digital economy that brings your customers closer than ever before, a consistent brand presence is a necessity that can’t be overlooked.

Sabrina Horn is president and CEO of Horn Group, an award-winning digital communications firm and co-founder of the Oriella PR Network, an alliance of 16 top communications agencies in 23 countries. Sabrina is also a charter member of Oriella’s Global Strategy Council.




1 Comment

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' PR Measurement Conference

 prnews-measurement-conf-175x135-static

Join us on November 20, 2014, for PR News’ essential PR Measurement Conference, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Commit now to grounding all of your PR efforts in metrics that connect to organizational goals and prove value that communications makes in thriving b2c and b2b companies, nonprofits and professional associations.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook


book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

  • Claire Thompson

    Great summary. The only thing I’d add is getting to know the people you work with, in their own environment, so that you can assess what’s cultural difference and what’s personality. It helps assess when you review the results – an apparently good result can be down to local conditions and disguise underperformance, and an apparently poor result can hide the fact that it’s way above average for the region. But these are nuances, and there are caveats to almost everything – great piece!