By: Bri Olson
What better way to end spring break than to hear a highly-credentialed PR professional speak about global communications? Kara Alaimo, PR practitioner for the United Nations and the Obama Administration, traveled from New York to speak to about global PR based on her experiences.
It is no secret that practicing PR in the U.S. calls us to consider the demographics of our client’s target publics to avoid potential backlash. Alaimo explained how on top of that, a global PR practitioner must carefully adapt a public relations campaign to an individual country’s culture.
This is especially hard to do when PR practitioners do not live in their client's country. I believe Alaimo wants us to realize that we cannot be naïve and assume that the same strategies and messages that work in the U.S. would also work in other countries, because that is not the case. Every country has a different culture, subcultures, and belief systems in place. Global PR teaches us to adapt our thinking to fit the expectations of the area we are representing. This stresses the importance of research.
I noticed such cultural adjustments while I vacationed in different parts of Florida for spring break. I could not help but to notice the demographic shift. Florida is Florida, but every town was segmented to accommodate a certain target public. For example, Naples is predominantly retired senior citizens, therefore, the living communities and shops were clearly catered to this public. Siesta Key was very touristy. For example, a flashing road sign said, “Happy spring break, enjoy your stay.” Also, there was a lot of signage promoting Siesta Key as the “#1 Beach in the U.S.” Lastly, Fort Lauderdale catered to a young college-aged crowd with its nightlife and cheaper lodging.
Alaimo explained how different cultures seek truth through different mediums, how some things Americans do are considered rude, and how religious angles in advertisements and PR statements can be essential in some cultures whereas in America we try not to pigeon-hole a certain religion when we speak to the public. Alaimo started off by explaining the word “no” is not used in South Africa because it is considered disrespectful. Once the speaker picked up on these cultural differences (through timeless research), she realized if she wanted to excel in global PR she had to adapt her communication strategies to accommodate different cultures.
So as we venture out into the real world and experience different cultures, be alert and try to pick up subtle cultural hues. You never know, they may come in handy as you develop as a PR professional as you continue to develop relationships with other individuals, organizations, and cultures in the future.