Cultural Sensitivity in a Global World

global teamBy Desirae Kay Johnson

In the M.A. in Integrated Global Communication(MAIGC) program at Kennesaw State University, we talk a lot about cultural sensitivity when communicating to a global audience. We’ve read case studies, discussed the various follies that have occurred when advertising campaigns ignore cultural factors, and debated about how we would go about performing various public relations tasks outside of the United States; all of which center around successfully communicating to a global audience.

I recently had the pleasure of learning about the real-world application of maintaining cultural sensitivity in a global world though my first interview here in Ireland. It was a wonderful experience that helped gear up my excitement about my research project on how Irish PR professionals use social media to build relationships with key online audiences.

Though I must protect the anonymity of the professional and the firm in which the conversation took place, I can share with you the insights on global communication that I learned from one of Ireland’s top digital media professionals.

  • Communication efforts must be sensitive to the culture of the intended audience. This could include not using words that the audience may not understand or could misinterpret, or using words/phrases for promotional events that stir up negative emotions about a culture’s historical past.
  • PR professionals should strive to localize content. For example, a metro-Atlanta public relations firm running a social media campaign for a Canada-based brand should not use Facebook as a platform to promote Music Midtown to its online audience. Instead, that PR firm should use information about a local music festival to spark conversation on social media.

In both of the above examples it is important for PR professionals to do all of the necessary research before launching a campaign.

The information I received in this interview provided a nice platform to bring what I learned in the classroom full-circle. It just goes to show that having knowledge about of how to function in an international market is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

To find out more about how Kennesaw State University’s MAIGC program can prepare you to be a global citizen/professional, visit the website.



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