With all the busyness and business here at Gerris, I have not stopped, breathed, and shared something that I find to be really cool: we’re doing digital PR and blogger outreach in several languages on behalf of our clients.
Currently, we’re doing a blogger outreach and social media campaign in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. In July, we’ll be adding Russian into the mix; in August, we’ll be adding Polish. Last year, we did a crisis management and online reputation defense campaign for a financial services client in German and French as well, in addition to English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
We really enjoy doing these these multinational, multilingual, and multicultural campaigns because we have staff all over the world, in seven countries on four continents.
While there most surely are quite a few cultural differences (call or email us for many funny examples), the Internet community has an over-arching global protocol, which I argue is simply “being human”: one needs to listen, be responsive, engage on a human level, and always assume good intent — especially when it comes to earned media blogger campaigns. This works worldwide.
Logistically, the most important hire for our foreign language campaigns is the native-speaker project lead in each language, especially in the languages that you and your polyglot CEO can’t read. Just because you can read, write, and/or speak fluent [insert language here] it doesn't mean you think like [insert nationality here]. The cultural knowledge, and the “nativeness” of the (written) voice are very import to getting the communications across most effectively.
It is essential to work directly with a native-speaker who is well in touch with his/her native culture. When doing communications work internationally, how you say something is as important as what you say.
Also, technologically, it is essential to make certain you have your email solution set up to support 8-bit character sets and that you have tested and re-tested because having Cyrillic or Kanji arrive corrupted or poorly-rendered is unacceptable.
Test, retest, consult an expert. When it comes to reducing accented and special-character Roman characters to ASCII, Internet denizens are sort of used to it, be it turning the German “ß” (ess-zett) to “ss” or realizing that much of the world doesn’t use our quotes but often uses <<>> or ‘ ’.
Additionally, numbers are rendered differently in different languages, such as “€10,00? instead of “€10.00? and the like. These are the gaffs that make you seem like you don’t know what you’re doing – and as if you are not taking the time to respect the reader.
At the end of the day, don’t let these details prevent you from giving it a go. The big secret is that there is a vibrant blogosphere, Twittersphere, and forumsphere everywhere now, no matter what anyone says or thinks they know.
Since I spent a year in Berlin, I know that I have heard this a hundred times, “what you’re doing in the US with bloggers is very cool, but in Germany there are very few bloggers and they’re all friends and they’re very cliquey and it would never work here,” which is, strangely enough, what everyone I have spoken to says about their country’s bloggers, including the United Kingdom, which is patently untrue. Every new country we begin interacting with we discover has a whole world of bloggers, etc. outside these supposed monolithic A-list cliques. It’s just that no one seems to be making the effort to check if the consensus reality is the truth, or is actually the Emperor’s new clothes.
We’re having a lot of fun on these campaigns and expect to begin new campaigns in German and French as well in the short-term as well.