Cross-cultural communication  



It is no secret that today’s workplace is rapidly becoming vast, as the business environment expands to include various geographic locations and span numerous cultures. The accelerating pace of globalization has made cross-cultural competence an indispensable qualification for any university graduate. So, what does cross-cultural communication mean?

First of all, cross-cultural communication is a field of study that examines how people from different cultural backgrounds communicate among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures. One of the aims of cross-cultural studies is to produce some guidelines with which people from different cultures can better communicate with each other.

Speaking about the history of cross-cultural studies, one can say that their origin cаn be found after World War II when changes and advancements in economic relationships, political systems and technological options began to break down old cultural barriers. As a result of this process, business transformed from individual country capitalism to global capitalism. Thus, international literacy and cross-cultural understanding have become crucial to a country’s cultural, technological, economic and political health.

The main theories for cross-cultural communication are based on the analysis of differences between various cultures. The greatest influence on these studies was produced by Edward T. Hall, Geert Hofstede and Fons Trompenaars. Their theories have been applied to a variety of different communication settings, including general business and management.

Thus, Edward T. Hall, a well-known American anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher, developed the concept of “high context culture” and “low context culture”. He wrote several popular books on dealing with cross-cultural issues, such as “The Silent Language” (1959), “The Hidden Dimension” (1966) and others.

An influential Dutch psychologist Gerard Hofstede studied the interactions between natural cultures and organizational cultures. His studies have demonstrated that there are national and cultural groupings that affect the behavior of societies and organizations, and they are very persistent across time. He found five dimensions of culture:

1) low vs. high power distance,

2) individualism vs. collectivism,

3) masculinity vs. femininity,

4) low vs. high uncertainty avoidance,

 5) long vs. short term orientation.

These cultural differences describe averages or tendencies and not characteristics of individuals.

F. Trompenaas is a Dutch specialist in the field of cross cultural communication. He analyzed language and cultural difficulties within the family. F. Trompenaad had grown up speaking both French and Dutch and then later he worked with multinational oil company Shell in 9 countries.

The study of cross-cultural interaction is fast becoming a global research area. Language learning can not only help us understand what we as human beings have in common, but also assist us in understanding the diversity which underlies our ways of constructing and organising knowledge, and the many different realities in which we all live and interact. Knowledge is the key to effective cross-cultural communication.

 

Questions:

1. Why is a cross-cultural competence indispensable qualification for any university graduate?

2. What does cross-cultural communication examine?

3. What is one of the aims of cross-cultural studies?

4. Where can the origin of this science be found?

5. How did business transform at that time?

6. What are the main theories of cross-cultural communication based?

7. Can you name any leading specialists in this area?

8. What did Edward Hall develop?

9. What have Gerard Hofstede’s studies demonstrated?

10. What is the key to effective cross-cultural communication?

 

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Preparing for a PR campaign: PR plan      

 

A PR campaign is a program of promotional activities intended to accomplish a specific objective. A campaign may be short and tightly focused or long with a broader focus. Well planned public relations campaign is often far more effective than advertising. The public relations campaign should be integrated with the overall marketing plan, which might include advertising and grassroots or "word-of-mouth," among other practices.

First of all it is important to determine what is to be accomplished by the public relations campaign and make all public relations actions relevant to meeting the goals and objectives determined. To understand their target audience and get information about competitors PR specialists should do some research, then create a PR plan. PR specialists should create awareness and interest by actively providing the materials to the media and maintain public interest.

Communication tactics may include traditional channels, such as media (television, radio, newspapers and magazines) and Web sites, as well as non-media channels, such as grassroots or "word-of-mouth"

Tried and true media tactics include:

· News release - develop a series of news releases that you can distribute to media prior to and during a PR campaign. If a press release contains a great deal of background statistics, then the release is a great tool for journalists who may need additional information to write a complete story. Never write longer than two pages. Keep sentences short. Keep paragraphs short. Include the five W's - Who, What, Where, When and Why .

  • Media kit - in addition to a news release, include a fact sheet with event schedules and locations
  • Desk side visits - visit local media to create connection and dialogue
  • Local radio and/or local TV media tours - offer to go on air
  • Public service announcements - develop 30- or 60-second announcements for on-air personalities to read over the radio
  • News conference - is a media event in which newsmakers invite journalists.

Don't underestimate the importance and potential impact of non-media channels - word-of-mouth, which can be considerably important.

Appoint a knowledgeable spokesperson who can talk with media about the company and the goods/services it offers. This person should be available for news conferences, phone interviews, on-air interviews, media conference calls, etc.

There are vital steps one needs to take in devising a PR plan.

* Audit – you need to have a clear idea of what your key audiences think, feel and believe about your organisation.

* Aspiration – this is key. How exactly do you want your organisation to be perceived and known.

* Aims – you need to get into the detail, you need to define your objectives in a way in which they can be measured – they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

* Audiences – it is essential that you identify the audiences that are important to you. Achieving national press and media coverage may be good for the ego but does it really help you get the messages across to your key audiences? Thus, you should determine what means of communication to use to get in touch with your audience.

* Attention – any campaign needs strong and specific key messages, which support your communication and help you in assessing your campaign’s success.

* Activity and Application – this is where the fun starts. By now you will have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and who you are targeting. The key is now to come up with the creative ideas that will provide you with the opportunity to get your messages across as effectively as possible. That could involve many different activities – from events and competitions to research, celebrity involvement and online forums.

* Assessment – if you have done your job properly with regard to carrying out your audit and setting your objectives then assessment should fall neatly into place.

When it comes to announcing your products and services to the media, perception is everything, which is why preparation is ultimately so important.

 

Questions:

1. What does a term “PR campaign” mean?

2. What is it necessary to determine before staring a PR campaign?

3. What may communication tactics include?

4. What may tried and true media tactics include?

5. What do the terms “Desk side visits” andMedia kit” mean?

6. What are vital steps in devising a PR plan?

7. What do the steps “Audit” and “Aspiration” mean?

8. What do the steps “Aims” and “Audiences” mean?

9. What does the step “Activity and Application” mean?

10. What does the phrase” perception is everything, preparation is ultimately important” mean?

 

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PR in Transport    

Transportation is one of the world’s largest industries. Encompassing trucks, airplanes, taxis, trains, ships, barges, pipelines, warehouses and logistics services, it is not surprising that this $1.8 trillion industry employs about 4.5 million Americans. The three major trends in this industry include global evolution, consolidation and technological advances. Transportation will continue to evolve on a global scale. China is a good example, with its transportation investments equaling 9 percent of its annual GDP. Between 1989 and 2008, China expanded its infrastructure from 200 kilometers of expressways to 50,000 kilometers of expressways. Companies have many goals related to their operations in the internal and the external environment. As an important factor in the external environment of the companies, present and the target customers constitute a considerable role in the overall strategies of the companies. Public relations, which is the promotional activity carried out by the use of various communication tools, is one of the important strategies that companies may differentiate themselves from the competitors. With public relations strategies, companies can better communicate their mission, achieve their goals, affirm their values in creative actions, campaigns, programs and build strong relations with customers.

The shipping industry which is very unique on its own with many changing industry dynamics (safety, security-related conventions, price fluctuations, changing supply and demand functions etc.) is an important field to investigate and understand the way the shipping companies interact with their customers and differentiate themselves in fierce competition. Rail PR has been formed by Rupert Brennan Brown who has a wide knowledge and experience of the railway industry. With over 15 years experience in railway Public Relations he has gained an unrivalled knowledge of the industry, those who work within it, write about it, regulate it, lobby for or against it, as well as those who are its stakeholders and paymasters.
      He is an Advisor to the Association of Community and Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) a Member of the Council of the Institution of Railway Operators (South East Area), Chairman of the Friends of the Derwent Valley Line and a former Chairman of the Railway Forum Shadow Council.

    Rail PR offers specialist Public Relations & lobbying skills to companies and organizations within Britain’s Railway Industry.
As well as meeting all your "below the line" communications needs Rail PRs network of strategic partners can deliver the best deals on advertising & print production, website development, event management and even operate special trains.

What they Do:

Media Management:

If there is good news in your organisation Rail PR can help those in the Trade, Regional and National Press know about it. If there is bad news they can help manage it.

Communications:
The internet has revolutionised the way organisations do business. Whether your on-line offering is "brochure-ware" or "fully transactional" it still needs to be part of joined up communications. With experience of developing and launching at least two award winning websites Rail PR can help you fully utilise the web as a powerful communications tool.

 Public Affairs and Lobbying:

As well as excellent connections in the political world Rail PR also knows those who influence the decision makers. From ACoRP to ASLEF, Transport 2000 to Transport for London we can help make a real difference to your stakeholder communications.

PR Project Management:

Rail PR has the brains behind this year’s highly successful "Modern Arena" at RailFest. This, and the proven ability to manage effective communications around major engineering works, means that Rail PR alone can lay claim to being the industry’s One-Stop PR Shop!

Advances in technology have helped the transportation industry become exceptionally more productive. As technology develops, the transportation industry becomes more efficient and costs are reduced. The next few years will see extreme growth in technology, providing exciting opportunities for the improvement and further development of efficiencies within the industry. According to a U.S. Department of Transportation estimate, freight shipment volumes will increase by 70 percent between 1998 and 2020 and the amount of foreign goods entering the U.S. will more than double. The transportation industry is constantly growing as its strategies to best serve its consumers evolve and technology advances. At AXIA, a public relations firm, everybody understands the exciting possibilities and trends within the transportation industry and are prepared with the specialized knowledge needed to reach your consumers.

 

Questions:

1. Why is transportation one of the world’s largest industries?

2. What is the promotional activity of PR?

3. Why is China supposed to be a good example in evolving on a global scale?

4. Why is the shipping industry an important field to investigate?

5. Who is Robert Brennan?

6. Why has he become to be an advisor?

7. What is the activity of Rail PR company?

8.  What has helped the transportation industry become exceptionally more productive?

9. What is the forecast in transportation industry?

10. What is AXIA?

Text 31

PR and culture  

    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 recognized. 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 analyze 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. Robert L. Wakefield asserted that in the 21st century, public relations practitioners face new challenges. Once primarily a domestic undertaking, public relations have gone global. The increased number of multinational organizations, ease of transnational and worldwide communication, and global marketplace has redefined the practice of public relations. Although some organizations and industries are more often affected, changes reverberate throughout organizational practice. Thus, skills in communicating with multiple publics across different cultures are essential. Sriramesh noted that “PR practice in the 21st century has, and will continue to, become multinational and multicultural in nature”.

    However, “precious little information exists to help multinational organizations to understand the global nature of their public relations or to guide them as they develop resources not only to get their messages out to increasingly cross-cultural publics but also to anticipate and respond to behaviors by those publics that could affect the organizations” This lack of information hampers efforts and places achieving organizational goals in jeopardy. Multinationals need to understand the nuances of public relations between countries, or even in different regions within countries, and how misunderstandings of those nuances can bring problems on a global scale. 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. Every public relations professional dreams of developing a campaign that puts his or her company’s tag line on the lips of the entire world. However, the tried and true rules of continuity, consistency, and even practicality don’t always apply when it comes to international or cross-culture campaigns. Before you try to recycle your PR campaign in a foreign market, consider that you are dealing with a completely new audience with its own characteristics, ideals, and preconceived notions about what you’re selling. Industry experts recommend using a public relations or advertising agency that specializes in international campaigns.

  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. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Ke-kou-ke-la,” meaning “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent, “ko-kou-ko-le,” which translates into “happiness in the mouth.”- Pepsi also had trouble in China with the slogan “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation,” which translated into “Pepsi Brings your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.- Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)’s experience in China has been fraught with a few obstacles. For example, the company’s slogan “finger-lickin’ good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.”

- A T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish-speaking market that promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I Saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la Papa).

- A curling iron called the “Mist Stick” was released in Germany, where the word “mist” is slang for “manure.”

- A Scandinavian company marketed their vacuum in America using the slogan, “Nothing Sucks Like Electrolux.”

- A major beer company directly translated their slogan “Turn it Loose” to Spanish, where it was understood as “Suffer from Diarrhea.”- A slogan for chicken, “It Takes a Strong Man to Make a Tender Chicken,” was translated into Spanish as “It Takes an Aroused Man to Make a Chicken Affectionate.”

- In translating the slogan for a ballpoint pen, “It Won’t Leak in Your Pocket and Embarrass You,” the Spanish word embarazar, meaning to impregnate, was used instead of “embarrass.” The ad read, “It Won’t Leak in Your Pocket and Make You Pregnant.”

 

Questions:

1. What is Public Relations responsible for?

2. Why can cross cultural differences make or break a PR campaign?

3. What has redefined the practice of public relations in the 21st century?

4. What do public relations practitioners face in the 21st century?

5. What difficulties exist to help multinational organizations to understand the global nature of their public relations?

6. What does every public relations professional dream about?

7. What should every public relations professional consider before trying to recycle his PR campaign in a foreign market?

8. Why do the usual channels of communication in some countries would simply have no effect in terms of PR?

9. What should every public relations know about a simple translation?

10. What misunderstanding may happen if the public relations practitioners have no idea about the culture of another country?

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PR in Sport

Sport is both a major international business and a key structure in globalised society. It encompasses business communication as well as cultural and inter-cultural communication, and political communication. To illustrate the political component we have only to consider the communicative aspects of events such as the Olympics and the way in which they are utilised as cultural diplomacy to promote national ideals and cultural identity internally and externally and to stimulate tourism (sport, business and leisure).

Sport’s newsworthiness derives from its financial growth as well as its central role in culture. Football, for example, is a ”media product” for many organizations put vast sums of money into the game to secure live television rights. Football provides the consummate example of personal PR and branding. This is where the worlds of sport and celebrity overlap. The case where PR tends to be a marketing tactic is sponsoring. That is created from a centralised marketing strategy because sponsorship practice is changing to take a more holistic approach linking corporate affairs and marketing communications (including hospitality).

In addition to the business and news value of elite sport and celebrity sports stars there is a vast sports market comprised both of giants that encompass clothing, equipment, footwear and, to some degree fashion, (Nike, Adidas) and niche specialists (De Rosa bikes, Aquaman wetsuits). Such strongly branded companies are highly newsworthy and maybe vulnerable to whistleblowers. Internal and external corporate social responsibilities are vital PR functions. Of course, all such commercial companies require public relations expertise beyond marketing, not least to effect productive employee relations but also to facilitate an understanding of organisational culture and climate and their relationship to organisational vision and mission.

The field of sports PR is wider yet. Sports tourism includes both the promotion of events worldwide to sports-specific fans and holidays which offer sports facilities at a variety of recreational levels and targeted at different markets (family orientated, adventure or ‘adrenaline junkie’, training camp). The importance of the concept of lifestyle should be emphasised as markets and media fragment.

 As with any sector in public relations, there are career opportunities in sport in agencies and in-house. One of the important things to bear in mind is that public relations work may be described by another term such as ‘sports direction’ (US term), ‘sports promotion’, ‘sports development’, ‘sponsorship exploitation’, ‘event management’ or ‘sports marketing’. Agencies specialising in the field likewise present themselves in a variety of ways including ‘sports PR’, ‘sports PR and brand building’, ‘brand and event promoting agency’, ‘sponsorship marketing’, ‘brand and events promotion’, and ‘athlete management’. 

However, a very different level of public relations takes place in minority sports, some of which may be new on the market, for example parkour a form of free fall street gymnastics using street furniture as props. Others may be struggling to establish their identity, for example, korfball, practised in Holland for over a hundred years but not so well-known in the UK. Identity construction and management is essential to minority sports.

Questions:

1. How are the communicative aspects of events such as the Olympics utilized?

2. Where does sport’s newsworthiness derive from?

3. Where do the worlds of sport and celebrity overlap?

4. In what case does PR tend to be a marketing tactic?

5. What is a vast sports market comprised of?

6. Why do some commercial companies require public relations expertise beyond marketing?

7. What does sports tourism include?

8. What career opportunities are there in the field of public relations?

9. In what way do agencies specializing in the field of sports present themselves?

10. Where does a very different level of public relations take place?

 

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PR and Railways   

Public relations are used by railway firms who seek more visibility to their customers. As with advertising, public relations can be segmented to reach particular consumers or markets. For example, a manufacturer of rail cars would target an industry magazine's rail car wrap-up issue rather than concentrating on getting an article in a track publication.

One of the most effective PR methods is press briefing and trade press briefing. For instance, a major railroad supplier in Kansas City takes its top executives to New York each year to meet with industry trade and major business media about product and service benefits. It allows to maintain a presence - not only with the railroad book, but with business and related trade publications. Plant openings or site visits are perfect for demonstrating how the product is made and what makes it different.

Other tactics include special events and opening launches. To give an example, a major manufacturer of rail cars conducts a special event in Moscow to announce the completion of a major project.

Building a rapport with trade association officials and members helps build recognition of the company and its products within the industry. For example, at a rail forum or roundtable, the comments of the participants don't escape notice in the rail magazines and that leads to credibility for them and their companies.

Rebranding is a successful PR-technique used by JSC Russian Railways which has been 

been restructured in response to rising demand for transport services in Russia. The company has picked a new corporate outfit to match its new outlook and new logo to embody new aspects of development like tourism, construction, and telecoms. The new brand will help attract both passengers and investors. The bright red color represents the company’s aggressive approach and willingness to change. The sign also displays the Cyrillic abbreviation of Russian Railways, pointing to the Russian origin of the company. Also Russian Railways will pick its corporate colours, which will provide the uniforms for 1.3 million staff as well as a new-look for the carriages.

In conclusion, the rail industry is a diverse one with a myriad of different companies working in and around the sector. As such, PR and advertising companies need to have a variety of ways to apply the media coverage they provide, from crisis PR through to brand exposure and raising profiles for marketing reasons.

 

Questions:

1. Do railways seek more visibility to customers?

2. Will a manufacturer of rail cars target an industry magazine's rail car issue or will he get an article in a track publication?

3. What example of trade press briefing is given in the text?

4. What is perfect for demonstrating how the product is made and what makes it different?

5. What tactics of PR are mentioned in the text?

6. What helps build recognition of the company and its products within the industry?

7. What successful PR-technique is used by JSC Russian Railways?

8. Why has Russian Railways picked a new corporate outfit and a new logo?

9. What does the new company brand represent?

10. The rail industry is diverse with lots of different companies, isn’t it?

 

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