Hitting close to home: Why brands must localise their PR campaigns



Much emphasis has been placed on globalisation in recent years, thanks to digital strides and the rise of social media. At any given moment, a brand can reach audiences not just from its home region but from halfway across the world as well, just with a single post.


When your brand establishes its presence in several countries, you may feel the need to maintain a singular identity –– employing uniform brand messaging across these regions in order to maintain a consistent brand promise for all your markets. But what you may not realise is that to be able to successfully capture a global audience, your brand must be willing to go local. This is especially true in Southeast Asia, a complex region with its own cultural nuances. What works in one country may fail terribly in another.


Take the case of Singapore and Malaysia: both were briefly once part of the same nation, but have since diverged into their own subcultures, perceptions, and behaviours. Even as both countries share cultural traits, catering to their distinctive qualities will set your brand apart.


Public relations is, after all, about creating relationships with your audience based on trust and relevance. So, how can your audience trust and resonate with your brand, if they cannot relate to it? While it is possible to be aware of a brand from a foreign country, it’s not enough to simply know it exists. To foster genuine and meaningful connection with audiences and build long-lasting relationships, it is essential for brands to localise their PR campaigns.


Localising a campaign goes beyond translation

Though social media can make the world feel like one big community, worldwide audiences are more complex than that. They have their own cultures, belief systems, languages, and other contextual distinctions. So while adapting your brand tagline and press releases to the local tongue may be a good first step, localising a campaign goes beyond mere translation.


Even something as simple as a press release needs to be different. Many companies try to send a press release developed for the United States to Asia, but lacking the right amount of detail and local flavours that would get journalists interested.


While human nature may bind us with universal needs and wants that transcend cultural barriers, there are nuances to our motivations and desires as consumers. What may be valuable to a Western audience may not necessarily be the case in Asia. And even among the region, there will be some differences that set us apart from one another: including values, religion, priorities, and overall cultural orientation. Understanding this can help you create meaningful communication around your brand.


Localising can help your brand shake off its “outsider” status

Your brand may be clear about its products and what it stands for. But to ultimately resonate within a particular locale, you must be able to answer consumers’ questions of, “How is this brand relevant in my daily life? How does this brand understand my wants and needs?” Brands that have successfully localised their presence are able to shake off perceptions of being foreign and prove their relevance within the community, sharing values with its users while staying true to their core DNA.


Unsurprisingly, consumers trust and gravitate towards brands whose values hit close to home. With carefully positioned messaging and leveraging the right channels, you can shift your brand’s perception from being an outsider to one embraced by users as one of theirs.


Localising helps you understand your consumers better

While sticking to a unified global campaign is undoubtedly easier, brands run the risk of alienating a significant portion of their consumer base because of contextual differences. This can range from something as arbitrary as geographical and climate differences, to their own values – being individually oriented versus family-oriented, for one.


This also means reflecting consumers’ motivations, concerns, as well as on-ground sentiment. Social listening and sentiment analysis can help paint a better picture of what a particular audience is preoccupied with, in the context of their current social, political, and economic climate. Localising your PR efforts also lets you create a baseline for future insights that can power future campaigns.


The right PR partners can help you localise your strategies in order to shape your brand’s optics and foster meaningful communication. A PR firm that understands the local media landscape and has a high-value network of trusted media partners can further mould and propel conversations surrounding your brand that fit within the local culture. They can also help you craft compelling, relevant, and empathetic messaging that strikes a chord with the local audience.


Blue Totem Communications works with the most trusted media partners across Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Our team of specialists can help your brand fuel its localisation efforts with the right communication strategy. Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.