Some U.S. executives think that having a high profile in the domestic market automatically guarantees a hero’s welcome when they land on foreign shores. After all, why shouldn’t the image they’ve spent years building in the U.S. magically cross the Atlantic and Pacific, conform to local societies, adapt to local market nuances, and reach out to their targeted constituencies?
Unfortunately, such an attitude leads to thinking that the same PR tactics and strategies that work so well in the U.S. can just be tossed over the fence to be used in other countries. We’ve come to call this mentality “Americanitis.”
2. Resources spread too thin
Companies often find that they don’t have the resources and/or budget to effectively address all the target markets in a given geography.
For example, a company’s European focus might be on the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. Rather than spread a modest budget across all four markets, it’s better to deploy the budget in one or two countries where you can make a difference.
3. Corporate HQ control
Often, the early funding for a global PR program comes out of the U.S. coffers. It stands to reason that the U.S. public relations people would want some involvement in the international PR activities and how the money is spent.
When the corporate HQ exercises strict control and approval over every single overseas action, an incredible bureaucracy takes hold and handicaps the global PR effort. Just the simple task of approving a news release can turn into a nightmarish saga as suggestions and tweaks ping-pong between HQ and the country office, eating up everyone’s time.
4. Failure to localize content
Localizing content goes beyond the translation of materials. Business issues vary from country to country. Yet many companies aren’t willing to put in the time to localize the storytelling for each target country.
The more effort a company puts into shaping the content to the characteristics of a particular market, the stronger the story becomes. There’s a reason McDonald’s sells a burger with a squid-ink-dyed bun in China.