From Russia to China and Back: Managing PR in an Unpredictable World

Photo: Agence France-Presse
Photo: Agence France-Presse

PR is global. Social media can take any brand to any location in the world at a moment's notice in the never-ending quest for new customers, and that's a good thing. But the shifting tides of geopolitics have the potential to place brands in compromising positions that can threaten their reputation and their bottom line. Consider for a moment recent developments in Russia and the ever-present concern over intellectual property in China

As a communicator, this represents a conundrum. The ever-constant search for new markets to share your message worldwide is coupled with the fact that some of those markets are not as free as those you are used to dealing with in certain countries. Your brand's IP is secure in some countries, while in others your logo or your proprietary information are up for grabs. Your new storefront might be welcome in one country, but in another a mob might burn it down. How do you deal?

Stay informed.

The best communicators are also the best listeners and the most well read. No one is saying that you have to be a member of a foreign policy think tank, but you do need to have a grasp of what's going on in the world. Follow what's happening in Europe, Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

Get in touch with what your brand is looking to accomplish. Recognize triggers that would turn off your domestic customers and followers. Labor issues, civil rights and the divide between socio-economic classes are big points to be aware of in any country that you look to invest. To paraphrase an old schoolhouse saying: "If you wouldn't do it at home, don’t do it here."

It's a complex world; it always has been. It is an age where your brand can be undone overnight by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a communicator, you can reduce that risk by staying informed in the world that's going on around you. Just a few minutes a day can make all the difference.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell