Public Relations Across Cultures

The Public Relations (PR) industry is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships between clients and customers. Through areas such as brand management, advertising, media relations and crisis management, PR practitioners seek to foster interest, trust and belief in a product or company.

PR practitioners are aware of how best to carry this out when dealing within their own nations and cultures, however, when dealing with a foreign audience it is critical that cross cultural differences are recognised.

By way of illustrating the impact cross cultural awareness can have on the success or failure of a PR campaign a brief example can be cited:

Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasizing that it “whitens your teeth.” They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth because they found it attractive. Had the PR company behind this campaign analysed the cross cultural issues related to Pepsodent’s product, the failure of this PR campaign could have been avoided.

Cross cultural differences can make or break a PR campaign. It is therefore crucial that PR practitioners dealing with PR campaigns that incorporate a cross cultural element analyse likely cross cultural differences. A few key areas shall be highlighted in order to help PR practitioners begin to consider how culture may affect future projects.

Language and Culture

In order for a PR campaign to be successful abroad, an appreciation of the target language and its cultural nuances is necessary. The PR and advertising industries are littered with examples of poor translations and a lack of cross cultural understanding leading to PR failure. For example, when Ford launched the ‘Pinto’ in Brazil they were puzzled as to why sales were dead. Fortunately they found out that Brazilians did not want to be seen driving a car meaning ‘small male genitals’ and promptly changed the name.

Translation of documents, slogans and literature must be checked and double checked for meanings and cross cultural nuances. This should not only take place between languages but also within languages. Even in English there are cross cultural differences in meanings. For example, the airline UAL headlined an article about Paul Hogan, star of Crocodile Dundee, with, “Paul Hogan Camps it up” which unfortunately in the UK and Australia is slang for “flaunting homosexuality”.

The Spoken Word

Areas where the spoken word is used in PR, such as press conferences or interviews, should be prepared for within a cross cultural framework. In short, speaking styles and the content used differs across cultures.

British and American communication styles are described as ‘explicit’, meaning messages are conveyed solely through words. Correlating background information is deemed necessary and divulged, ambiguity is avoided and spoken words have literal meaning. In many other cultures, communication is ‘implicit’. The message listeners are likely to interpret is based on factors such as who is speaking, the context and non-verbal cues. Spoken words do not fully convey the whole story as listeners are expected to read between the lines.

With relation to content, speakers must be aware of the cross cultural differences in humour, metaphors, aphorisms and anecdotes. In addition, references to topics such as politics and/or religion can be a very sensitive issue in other cultures.

When the spoken word is used the cross cultural distinctions of the target culture must be incorporated in order to help the speaker appeal to and identify with the audience.

The Written Word

Press releases, features and copywriting all require a certain amount of cross cultural sensitivity when being applied abroad. Journalistic traditions, writing styles, news worthiness, delivery systems and whether a ‘free press’ exists are all areas that will affect how the written word is tailored.

In addition, the most important point, from a cross cultural perspective, is how to write in a way that engages the readers in that society or culture. Some cultures may prefer colourful and inspirational writing, others factual and objective. Some may be motivated by language that incorporates a religious or moral tone, others by a money-orientated or materialistic one.

When writing, the first step should always be to look at and integrate the cross cultural particulars of the target audience.

Communication Channels

PR practitioners employ many different communication channels when trying to circulate information relating to their campaign. The main channels of communication in the UK or America are the radio, the press, TV, internet and public spaces. However, these channels may not always be applicable abroad.

In many countries the radio, TV or newspapers may not be the primary source of information. Literacy rates may be poor and/or radios may be expensive. In Africa, only 1.4% of the population have access to the internet. Even where such channels of communication do exist, such as TV, some methods used by PR practitioners, namely guerrilla marketing, would be interpreted differently in foreign countries. For example, interrupting live TV may be laughed at in the UK but in other countries it would be seen as irresponsible and rebellious.

The usual channels of communication in some countries would simply have no effect in terms of PR. In such countries, local alternatives need to be sought such as religious leaders, tribal chiefs, school teachers or NGO’s. Information coming from such figures will not only reach the audience but be perceived as more credible than if it were from foreigners.

PR Materials

The use of publicity materials in PR campaigns such as logos, slogans, pictures, colours and designs must all be cross culturally examined. Pictures of seemingly innocuous things in one culture could mean something different in another. For example, a company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The ad failed as animals are considered to be a low form of life in Thailand and no self respecting Thai would wear anything worn by animals. Similarly, logos or symbols are culturally sensitive. A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had a six-pointed star on it. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it.


The above cited areas are but a few of those that require decent cross cultural assessment by PR practitioners if they wish their international and cross cultural campaigns to succeed. The aim of implementing a cross cultural analysis in PR is to build campaigns that target the audience as best as possible, meaning appealing to their world view while avoiding offense.


It can be a challenge for global marketers to develop messages that resonate across national cultures, or as well the many cultures within any single nation.  

The video clip below briefly summarizes researchthat illustrates how transculturally resonant themes such as babies, animals, relationships, sports, and life cycles, might be used to craft messages that connect with people — whatever their background, culture, and nationality.



Consumer and Community with Bestbuy. Great example – #7

What is the difference between community relations and consumer relations? How has the consumer movement and digital media affected both? What would Habermas  think?

Community focuses on the what the community knows and think about an organization, the point of view, and the being able to negotiate between the organization and the community. It is important that the foundation between the community and organization have stability, pride in the community, participation and the appearance to be well tailored. Its object is to build, whereas the consumer relation is to maintain its stability with longstanding relationships while appealing to new customers, items, services and reducing cost. ( Seitel 2004).

Lets check out Bestbuy :

As a Company, and through our Foundation, we work with nonprofit organizations to support programs that provide access to opportunities for teens through technology. Our goal is to provide positive experiences that will help teens excel in school and develop 21st century skills which will result in richer lives and a better future. We also work to improve the vitality of local communities through our community grants program, employee giving campaign and disaster relief efforts.

When you see a company providing a program that allows employees the opportunity to give, it makes you want to give as well. They are setting the example for the consumer to think of them as not just a company in this only for the business but using its money, time and employees to give someone else a chance. When consumers visually see what is taking place, it lets you think of the CEO , or officiers of the company as people with concerns, morals and values for others, rather than just for themselves. We rethink how we feel about a company the reaches out.

Community relations refers to the various methods companies use to establish and  maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the communities in which they  operate. The underlying principal of community relations is that when a company  accepts its civic responsibility and takes an active interest in the well-being  of its community, then it gains a number of long-term benefits in terms of  community support, loyalty, and good will. “Community involvement builds public  image and employee morale, and fosters a sense of teamwork  that is essential in long-term success,” Lisa Desatnik noted in Cincinnati  Business Journal.

Read more:

Customer relations is the process by which companies promote customer  satisfaction and, moreover, loyalty. At its most basic, it involves       managing communications with customers, particularly customer questions  and  complaints, and resolving disputes amicably. The ultimate goal of most  customer relations programs is to build long-term  relationships—those in  which the customer keeps buying the product  or service and recommending it  to others—with customers. To meet this goal, companies may go to great  lengths to build a strong reputation  for lavishing their customers with  special services, discounts, gifts, or  other benefits.

Customer relations has become such an important paradigm in modern business that it is common to refer to relations with a company’s       “internal” and “external” customers. The implication here is that  functional units of a large organization, e.g., the management information systems department, are  expected to develop a service-oriented rapport with thepeople inside the  business who require that unit’s assistance. In  this sense customer  relations is linked to stakeholder theory, an  approach to business that emphasizes meeting the needs of all interested  parties in a business relationship, including customers,outside vendors,  shareholders, and others.

Read more: Customer Relations – benefits

Habermas theory is sometimes confusing  with what he thought was morally wrong and what was right. He would think i believe that there was a hidden agenda to reach out.

Adult Learners ..Going back

Adult Learners


Below is a comparison of the learning characteristics of adult learners and youth learners. Of course, these are generalizations with exceptions occurring in each group of learners, but you may want to keep these differences in mind as you consider the learner population you expect in your online course. The design of your course would be influenced by your expected student population.

Adult Learners

Youth Learners

Problem-centered; seek educational solutions to where they are compared to where they want to be in life Subject-oriented; seek to successfully complete each course, regardless of how course relates to their own goals
Results-oriented; have specific results in mind for education – will drop out if education does not lead to those results because their participation is usually voluntary Future-oriented; youth education is often a mandatory or an expected activity in a youth’s life and designed for the youth’s future
Self-directed; typically not dependent on others for direction Often depend on adults for direction
Often skeptical about new information; prefer to try it out before accepting it Likely to accept new information without trying it out or seriously questioning it
Seek education that relates or applies directly to their perceived needs, that is timely and appropriate for their current lives Seek education that prepares them for an often unclear future; accept postponed application of what is being learned
Accept responsibility for their own learning if learning is perceived as timely and appropriate Depend on others to design their learning; reluctant to accept responsibility for their own learning

In summary, adult learners usually approach learning differently than younger learners:

  • they are more self-guided in their learning
  • they bring more, and expect to bring more, to a learning situation because of their wider experience – and

What is Employee Relations?

Employee Relations involves the body of work concerned with maintaining employer-employee relationships that contribute to satisfactory productivity, motivation, and morale.   Essentially, Employee Relations is concerned with preventing and resolving problems involving individuals which arise out of or affect work situations.

Advice is provided to supervisors on how to correct poor performance and employee misconduct.   In such instances, progressive discipline and regulatory and other requirements must be considered in effecting disciplinary actions and in resolving employee grievances and appeals.   Information is provided to employees to promote a better understanding of management’s goals and policies.  Information is also provided to employees to assist them in correcting poor performance, on or off duty misconduct, and/or to address personal issues that affect them in the workplace.   Employees are advised about applicable regulations, legislation, and bargaining agreements.   Employees are also advised about their grievance and appeal rights and discrimination and whistleblower protections.

Has the recent economic downturn changed the relationship between employers and their employee public?

In my opinion, change is evitable but in the last 7-8 years employers are focusing more on customer servic, competitiveness,  doing more with less, and putting alot of pressure on what they are adverstising or marketing to be. It will continue to change as technology becomes so big that people will either be eliminated from a job or only those who can fix these little time bombs will remain in office. ( behind a desk or server) . Most employers now feel that you should feel privileged to have a job. In that regards, some feel that they can work you beyond your means or find someone else to do it. The PR for the large companies must continue to work day and night to build the business or saved it from falling. It has changed and will continue as technology grows beyond our own imaginations. That alone is beautiful but sometimes scary.

What is Employee Relations?No raises! The economy sucks? -#6