Intercultural communication and public relations

2019-05-17 Business No comment

The Public Relations [PR] industry is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships between customers and customers. Through areas such as brand management, advertising, media relations and crisis management, PR practitioners seek to cultivate interest, trust and belief in products or companies.

PR practitioners know how best to achieve this when dealing with their country and culture. However, when dealing with foreign audiences, it is important to identify cross-cultural differences.

By clarifying the impact that cross-cultural awareness may have on the success or failure of public relations activities, a short example can be cited:

Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasizing it "whitening teeth." They found that local indigenous people chewing betel nuts would blacken their teeth because they found it attractive. If the public relations firm behind the event analyzes cross-cultural issues related to Pepsident products, then the failure of this PR campaign could have been avoided.

Cross-cultural differences can determine the success or failure of public relations activities. Therefore, it is important to analyze the cross-cultural differences in the analysis of public relations practitioners dealing with public relations activities involving cross-cultural factors. Some key areas should be highlighted to help PR practitioners begin to consider how culture affects future projects.

Language and culture

In order for public relations activities to succeed abroad, it is necessary to understand the target language and its cultural differences. The public relations and advertising industries are full of examples of poor translation and the lack of cross-cultural understanding leading to public relations failures. For example, when Ford launched 'Pinto' in Brazil, they were confused as to why sales had died. Fortunately, they found that Brazilians didn't want to be seen driving a car that meant “little male genitalia” and immediately changed its name.

The translation of documents, slogans and documents must be checked and their meaning and cross-cultural differences carefully examined. This should be done not only between languages, but also between languages. Even in English, there are cross-cultural differences in meaning. For example, the airline UAL is titled an article about the crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan, which includes "Paul Hogan Camp", unfortunately in the UK and Australia the proverb is "show off homosexuality."


Fields that use spoken language in PR, such as press conferences or interviews, should be prepared within a cross-cultural framework. In short, the style of speaking and the content used vary from culture to culture.

The way the United Kingdom and the United States communicate is described as “clear,” meaning that information is conveyed only through words. Relevant background information is considered necessary and leaked, ambiguity is avoided and the spoken words have a literal meaning. In many other cultures, communication is “implicit”. Message listeners may be interpreted based on factors such as speaker, context, and non-verbal prompts. Spoken language cannot fully convey the whole story, because the audience should read between the lines.

With regard to content, speakers must be aware of cross-cultural differences in humor, metaphors, maxims and anecdotes. In addition, references to topics such as politics and/or religion may be a very sensitive issue in other cultures.

When using spoken language, it is necessary to combine the cross-cultural differences of the target culture to help the speaker to attract and agree with the audience.

Written text

Press releases, close-ups and copywriting all require a certain cross-cultural sensitivity when applying abroad. News traditions, writing style, news value, delivery systems, and the existence of “free news” can affect the way in which written text is customized.

In addition, from a cross-cultural perspective, the most important point is how to write in a way that engages readers in society or culture. Some cultures may prefer colorful and inspiring writing, others prefer facts and guests may be motivated by languages ​​that contain religious or moral tones, while others are motivated by money-oriented or materialistic language.

When writing, the first step should always be to view and integrate the cross-cultural details of the target audience.

Communication channel

Public relations practitioners use many different communication channels when trying to spread information about their activities. The main communication channels in the UK or the US are broadcast, news, television, internet and public spaces. However, these channels may not always be applicable abroad.

In many countries, radio, television or newspapers may not be the main source of information. The literacy rate may be poor and/or the radio may be expensive. In Africa, only 1.4% of the population has access to the Internet. Even if there are such communication channels, such as television, some methods used by public relations practitioners, namely guerrilla marketing, will have different interpretations abroad. For example, interrupting live TV may be ridiculed in the UK, but in other countries it is considered irresponsible and rebellious.

The usual communication channels in some countries have no effect on public relations. In these countries, local alternatives such as religious leaders, tribal chiefs, school teachers or NGOs need to be sought. Information from these numbers will not only be communicated to the audience, but will also be considered more credible than foreigners.

Public relations materials

The use of promotional materials such as logos, slogans, pictures, colors and designs in public relations activities must be cross-cultural. Pictures of seemingly harmless things in one culture may mean different in another culture. For example, a company promotes glasses in Thailand by displaying a variety of cute animals with glasses. The advertisement failed because the animal was considered to be a low-life form of Thailand, and the Thai who did not have self-esteem would wear anything worn by the animal. Again, logos or symbols are culturally sensitive. A soft drink was introduced into the Arab world with a hexagonal star on its label. The Arabs interpret this as pro-Israel and refuse to buy.

in conclusion

If they want international and cross-cultural activities to succeed, these areas are just some areas where public relations practitioners need to conduct decent cross-cultural assessments. The purpose of implementing cross-cultural analysis in public relations is to create the best possible audience-specific activities, which means attracting their worldview while avoiding offense.

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