By António Eduardo Marques, AEMpress
There is this generalized idea, among many multinational companies that need to communicate their products and services in foreign countries, that “most people – and certainly the media – understand English”.
This is especially true in small markets, such as Portugal and in several North European countries, were the people do in fact have a good understanding of the English language and are used to watch subtitled movies and TV series.
However, if that maybe be true, the reality is that it is still very important to communicate in the local language of the market one wants to enter. The idea that a company can save money by not translating press-releases in the local language of a given market or that it can still engage with customers in that market through social media even when it does not have a locally managed presence is simply nonsense.
You see, one thing is knowing that journalists and bloggers can understand a PR written in English even if that is not his or her language; another is expecting that member of the media to give it the attention it deserves. In a world where the newsrooms have less and busier people, and were many blogs and run by one or two people (yes, they are!) you should use all the tools of the trade to get your message through the noise. And not having it adapted to the market you want to reach is not a good way to achieve that goal.
Of course, the same could be said about other aspects of a business in a foreign market: not having a manual written in the local language (which is actually illegal in the EU); expecting customers to navigate a support page written in a foreign language; having a phone contact were the people answering calls don’t understand the language; or – probably even worse – having a website correctly translated and adapted, giving your costumers the expectation of local support, and then not delivering over that premise.
There is also a surprisingly great number of companies that think that they can get away with having a social media presence not adapted to the needs of the specific markets. Here, the problem is even worse. Why? Because it is increasingly usual for people engaging with social media (mainly through Twitter and Facebook, although this varies with each market) asking questions about products and even asking for support when things go wrong. And believe us: you don’t want to be “lost in translation” when things go wrong in social media!
When a company wants to enter a new, foreign market, it should not only seek the advice of a good local PR company, but understand that its presence in that market should include a commitment to be really local. And that begins with the most basic form of communication: language.
Originally posted by AEMpress in August 2015.