By Luke Smith

Becoming a successful public relations professional takes a very special type of person. One who is not only able to communicate and understand people at a very high level but a person who can use these skills to build strong and lasting relationships. They also need the ability to think quickly on their feet.

Public relations takes a high level of emotional and social intelligence to successfully navigate difficult societal relationships and accomplish the desired work. Most people in these positions are also discovering that the job takes a high degree of cultural intelligence as well. Because of this, many experts in the field are encouraging a greater understanding of this concept.

Especially in today’s world of globalization, a need for cultural awareness and appreciation is greater than ever before. More and more often, public relations professionals are interacting with people in a global marketplace. The massive expansion of online markets has made global business more likely even for small companies that may not have considered it in the past.

Benefits of Cross-Cultural Communication

For many growing businesses, the idea of embarking on a global marketing enterprise seems like the next step. This is especially relevant given the ease of access to global markets in today’s world. But many businesses fail to realize some of the very real challenges that can come with selling certain products abroad.

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Challenges with languages and cultures are some of the other biggest hurdles for companies hoping to sell globally. This is where a culturally intelligent PR professional comes in. There are plenty of examples of PR campaigns that worked well in the U.S. but failed miserably abroad because of a lack of understanding of cultural or language differences.

Culturally sensitive PR can help avoid these hurdles that can limit sales in different countries. Taking the steps to understand how things might be interpreted from the lens of a different culture can save a great deal of time and money. It could also help market a brand uniquely in a way that will appeal to an individual country. Ultimately, it could be the difference between making a successful global sales pitch and not.

Cultural Awareness Matters

There are several other benefits beyond simply business savvy when it comes to cultural awareness. For instance, with the global marketplace growing and expanding so rapidly, there is a very real possibility that the company will need to hire local professionals in different countries to help with PR campaigns. This means that not only will the company be marketing to different cultures but will also have employees from different cultures.

Effective company leaders and managers will quickly realize that hiring international employees and working across cultural divides can be a huge boon for business. There is plenty of evidence to point to the fact that a more diverse workplace is one that also has the potential to be far more creative and productive. All employees should have the responsibility to get involved with promoting this type of workplace diversity.

Diverse workplaces can also benefit employees in many unexpected ways. For instance, it can give them a great opportunity to build cultural awareness and sensitivity by understanding the differences between two countries a bit better. Ultimately, this can make them better employees who are more capable of thinking critically about marketing situations and coming up with strong, successful ideas.

Building Cultural Sensitivity

The idea of building cultural awareness and sensitivity can be somewhat of a new concept for many PR professionals. Certainly, there is a need for employees to understand the differences and the aforementioned benefits are very clear. Fortunately, there are ways to start to build this skill within the workforce.

Some of the most important strategies for building cultural sensitivity include things like encouraging employees to use more inclusive language or to spend the time to learn the cultural customs of fellow employees or clients. Another important thing that employees can do is to strive to work on the proper pronunciation of difficult names. Making these types of efforts is noticed by those from a different culture and highly appreciated.

Many professionals recognize that many younger generations are often more open and easily adaptable to working with different cultures. Many of them find diversity in the workplace to be one of their top desires when looking for a job. This can be a huge benefit when it comes to hiring a new professional to fill a position.

Cultural intelligence is a critical, yet often underrated, aspect of being a successful PR professional. Recognizing the difference in cultures is a huge benefit to marketing strategies and can have very real benefits for employee relations as well. Building cultural sensitivity is something that many companies are working to improve and making quite a bit of great progress with.

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but PR and communications topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.