IABC – the International Association of Business Communicators – is the global organisation for people working in business communications. It offers members a global forum to develop professional skills, share knowledge of and develop best practice in communications and to discuss important issues affecting the profession. IABC’s membership in the UK covers the full spectrum of business communications: internal, marketing, media and public relations, public affairs and strategic communications. Most of our members occupy senior positions, many in global companies and organisations. The UK Chapter – covering the UK and Ireland – is part of the association’s European region.
posted July 12th, 2014
posted in IABC Events
tags IABC Events
By Kristin Isabelle Heume
In an ever more international business environment, communicating and collaborating across countries, cultures and languages has become second nature. Yet, we don’t often talk about the challenges that come with it, and fail to adapt our routines. “Engaging Communication Globally”, jointly organised by the IABC’s Susan Walker and SIETAR on 10 July in London, broke this pattern and opened a conversation about all things global communications.
Chair Dr Barbara Gibson, ABC opened the discussion by sharing her insights into intercultural competencies needed by CEOs: adaptability, cultural self-awareness, cultural sensory perception, open-mindedness, and a global perspective. In two workshops she showed us how to evaluate our own competencies and analyse different cultural layers that affect our behaviour.
International case studies
Taking a look at the external side of global communications, Eva Maclaine FCIPR of Maclaine Communications and chair of CIPR International provided an overview of skills needed when communicating on the international stage. From her vast experience, she set out a framework for navigating the various roadblocks on the path to successful cross-border communications.
Two country case studies complemented the insights of Barbara and Eva: Ashish Babu, Director of Communications UK & Ireland at Tata Consultancy, gave a compelling presentation on India, its media sector and cultural richness. He also suggested exploring a foreign culture by trying out its movies, food and sports. With a cricket analogy (“if you want to do business with India, treat it like a test match, not a 20:20 game”) he urged us to take some time to truly understand a culture.
Claudia Delpero, a journalist, media strategist, and expert on leading communications teams across the globe, introduced us to how business is done in China. With lively anecdotes of failure and success, she taught us the three key factors to consider when communicating in China: managing scale, the speed of change and saving face.
Making communications global
Taking a closer look at internal communications in global organisations, two experts shared their experience. Charles Willy from the World Gold Council argued for breaking with the one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it is important to understand local concerns and address them through global communication from senior leaders. Furthermore, he emphasised to not only look at what divides us, but at what unites us: shared sports, thoughtful humour, and engaging stories.
Lisa Wade from the Open University, but previously engaging employees at the international charity WaterAid, talked about the importance of understanding local priorities and behaviours to tailor a global communications approach to different regions. Discussing multi-lingual issues, she suggested best practices such as setting criteria and expectations that are tested with local audiences to maximise the result of translation efforts.
In a concluding panel discussion, the speakers addressed the most burning questions of the audience before continuing the discussion over lunch. Everyone left with lots of food for thought, as well as a comprehensive reading list for a deeper dive into global communications.