5 Steps for Developing an International Communication Strategy
Why International Communication is Essential
Dealing with international media relations might seem like a low priority for some businesses, but if you don’t have tight international communication strategies, you can’t make any serious long-term progress.
Good global communication is essential for market expansion, PR and internal team development. We’ve moved into a worldwide stage, so effective communication across cultures and languages is integral to forming the best team and positioning your brand as a leader in international sectors.
A 5-Step Plan For Developing a Successful International Communication Strategy
Plan For the Future Both Globally and Locally
You must follow a disciplined flow when it comes to planning. Some companies may choose to plan only six months out, while others opt for an entire year. What’s best depends on your industry.
Step one is to think about international communications and development. This is the time for making a sweeping, global outline. Where do you hope to go? Which markets are you expanding into or deepening a connection in? Don’t be afraid to dive into advertising or marketing intelligence data for insights here.
Next, zoom in on each local market. Who are you trying to reach? Which are the best media outlets in each country to effectively deliver your message? Each of these regions should be a separate bullet point in the global outline. Consider things like international politics and media landscapes for each country so that your communications are effective and well-received.
Once you’ve gone from a broad international scope to a narrow local scope, it’s time to zoom out once again to track campaign results. When possible, set local teams to work handling the plan’s details. This allows you to focus on the big picture that drives your entire brand forward.
Segment Your Contact Database
International communications and development need serious levels of organization to be effective. Before you make any moves in your communication strategy, you need a way to quickly and accurately sort your contacts into appropriate segments.
The best way to do this is with a CRM. CRM software allows you to keep a detailed, centralized database while keeping all types of contact data segmented, organized and annotated.
Segmenting by region is often helpful, and it can also be beneficial to segment further by language, local market or specific demographics. The more narrowly you can slice the “contact pie,” the greater your chances of pulling off a successful campaign.
Organize Your Activities in a Global Calendar
You should already have internal and external communication calendars as a part of your overall marketing strategy. This is simply an extension of those calendars. Creating a single, global calendar serves several purposes.
First, it helps everyone see how their actions link together. It also enables you to coordinate across international markets in a more streamlined manner. Second, it provides a “master narrative” for you and your team. When something inevitably changes in the plan, having a single global calendar easily visible lets everyone see how the changes impact the overall strategy. This minimizes stress and helps everyone stay flexible.
Set Standard KPIs
As with all aspects of your brand, international media relations should have measurable, standardized KPIs. Giving yourself and your team a concrete way to measure the effectiveness of your communication strategy is one of the best ways to ensure success. Standardizing KPIs across all market segments is integral to getting accurate data for comparisons.
The KPIs you choose to track may vary based on your goals, mission and communication style, but here are a few basics to get an idea of useful metrics:
- Online community growth
- Social media or online mentions
- Organic referral generations
- Contact with influencers
- Total market share
- Audience engagement
Once you have a defined set of metrics, ensure every team member knows and understands how to track this data. Additionally, be sure that every KPI you implement has value. Otherwise, your company will get bogged down with the burden of tracking, which interferes with progress.
Track Global and Individual Communication Strategies With Reports
Like KPIs, your company probably already has a report generation structure. You may already have reports that track some global and individual market data aspects. Social media reports are an excellent example of this.
However, it’s crucial to have dedicated reports tracking communication impacts over long periods. Putting together reports with daily, weekly, and monthly data gives you actionable, valuable insights when presenting results or meeting with teams to improve performance.
Measuring effective communication can feel challenging because it’s fundamentally subjective based on your company’s goals. The revised Barcelona Principles offer an overview of the types of metrics brands should use to generate reports. However, that list is not comprehensive, particularly for communication on an international scale.
To make it less daunting, contextualize what good global communication looks like for your brand specifically. Are you seeking greater social media engagement? A broader overall market reach? More recruitment interest from a specific region? If you can define success, then you can effectively measure it.
A few essential impacts to track in your reports include:
- Influencer relationships
- Brand reputation analysis
- Social network reach
- General PR sentiments
- Content reach in local and global sectors
Finally, don’t just throw together boring text reports or tedious slideshows when it’s time to show your work. Even if you have excellent data that reveals important insights, a bland, unoriginal format will make your revelations fall flat.
At minimum, use a free program like Canva to make static presentations visually interesting. If you have large amounts of data to track, consider using a dynamic reporting tool to create simple, interactive visual reports that can be easily accessed via the cloud.
Take Your Communications International With a Compelling Strategy
Let’s recap the most important parts of developing an international communication strategy:
- You must be agile enough to think about the big picture as well as the small one. Don’t get lost in the minute details of individual markets, but don’t stay zoomed out so far that you’re only operating in broad strokes.
- Segmentation is extremely useful for media and international relations. Use a CRM or similar tool to help you quickly and effectively create small, specific contact segments based on geography, market or language.
- Keep a highly visible collaborative global calendar for your entire team. Use it to drive your brand narrative and stay on track to meet your established goals.
- Establish standardized KPI metrics for all important aspects of communication and deliver the necessary tools for your team to track them.
- Use strategic reporting to track global and individual progress throughout the year.
Managing international communication can be challenging, but the role of media in your company’s overall growth and success is critical. The time and capital invested in refining your international communication strategy should be considered an intelligent investment that will pay long-term dividends.