This blog post is part of a series leading up to our webinar: “Five fundamentals of a cyber security PR program in EMEA”. To attend, sign up today.
Native English speakers can easily assume that everyone speaks their language, as almost every country in the world prioritises it as a second language for their citizens to learn.
However, different countries in EMEA have societies with differing levels of language proficiency – especially in a business context. This is a critical issue, depending on the markets in EMEA that you choose to target.
Northern Europeans often speak English better than native speakers, while Mediterranean countries tend to have a much looser grasp. African and Arabic countries will have a reasonable level of English – but this is usually dependent on their historical ties to the UK and the number of ‘expats’ based in the country.
There are four top things to consider when it comes to navigating foreign languages:
English or local language?
For press liaison all written interaction for pitching stories, news releases etc should be in the local language. Supporting materials such as white papers, infographics etc should also be in the local language where possible.
This goes for marketing material as well. Nothing says ‘afterthought’ like trying to communicate with someone in their second language.
The best advice in this area is to appoint a local marketing and public relations agency in that country and listen to their advice. Don’t just view them as a hub for distributing what you have produced centrally.
If they advise that certain content needs to be translated it will be for a good reason – so pay heed!
The best use of translation companies
Your marketing and public relations agency will not be able to translate everything that you send them. While they can handle some everyday items, more in-depth white papers and other supporting material will likely need a professional translator.
The complex and industry-specific language of cyber security means that you need a translator with that specific experience. Your in-country agency should give you the details of some translation companies that they trust for you to consider.
Alternatively, you may want to get in touch with the local translation industry trade body for that country. They tend to have members detailing the correct expertise and with whom you can get in touch. Sorting a good translation provider can take some time so it is important to line one up well in advance.
Approving foreign language content
Approving content is usually straightforward when in English. However, your senior decision makers will not likely have the proficiency for other languages.
Content approvers need to review two things. Firstly, whether the content is technically accurate and communicates your message. Secondly, it needs to be constructed in a coherent way with good grammar.
The best approach is to ask a local internal operative to review for technical proficiency and whether it is communicating the subject that you would like it to. For structure and grammar my advice is to trust your marketing and public relations agency as this (should!) be their area of expertise.
Either way, you will probably need to revise your approval processes to a certain degree for EMEA.
Finally, journalists in many countries will only conduct interviews in their own native language. For webinars, podcasts or other verbal content, a native speaker should also be preferred. If you lack a native spokesperson, you can try and get around this by only submitting written commentary to the press and keeping your marketing generally focused on written content.
If you are taking your outreach seriously, you really need someone local with first language experience.
The best approach is to make sure that experience in speaking to the media and supporting the development of verbal marketing content is a component of the job description for the VP sales or other operatives that your organisation is appointing to the country. That way there is no need to hire extra people with this skill set further down the line.
Sign up to our webinar on launching EMEA PR campaigns to find out more about language considerations as well as other issues you need to think about when looking to promote yourself in the region.