Last week, Mitchell Communications Group had the honor of sponsoring a PRWeek roundtable discussion at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Leaders representing some of world’s top global brands such as Walmart, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Tyson Foods Inc. came together as our President and CEO Elise Mitchell spoke about best practices for connecting global brands with local audiences. The following are some of the thoughts she shared with participants.

Global companies work very hard to build a brand that is identifiable, consistent and valued across many borders. But how can a global brand connect with local audiences that can be vastly different from one place to another?

Public relations professionals play a vital role in bridging the gap between global and local with our own version of the three R’s: relevance, resonance and relationships.

Relevance: Does it matter to me?

Brands make promises all the time, but they must understand how to make the promises relevant to consumers with different needs that are at least partially driven by where they live. What is relevant to someone in Indiana can be entirely different to someone in India or in Indianola, Miss.

The key to being relevant is to know your customers. Research them. Listen to them. Your ears and your eyes can be your most important tools. Without this knowledge, you will miss opportunities to find meaningful ways to meet their needs.

Resonance: Does it speak to me?

There is so much noise in the marketplace. In order to make sure a company’s messages break through, we have to be very intentional about what we say, how we say it and how we reach our audience.

  • What we say: People want to hear stories that bring brands to life – stories about how products and services make a difference, about people, about their communities.
  • How we say it: It is vital to speak in a way that sounds familiar and comfortable. This means focusing on tone, style and even dialect. There is no quicker way to turn off a potential customer than by speaking in a tone or with messaging that doesn’t fit their lifestyle.
  • How we reach them: We reach customers in a variety of ways: traditional media, social media, online, on location or by phone. Of the primary media channels – earned, owned, shared, paid and promoted – public relations leads the way in the first three. These are powerful channels we can leverage to reach customers where they are and where they are willing to engage with us.

Relationships: Are we connected?

Every brand wants more than just customers; they want brand fans. Trust and consistency are the only routes to accomplish this, and there are many things we can do it earn it.

  • Equip and empower a local go-to person for the community to put a local face on your brand.
  • Provide support for local causes that show your brand appreciates and supports what matters to local customers.
  • Source local products and suppliers somewhere in the supply chain to show your brand values things that are available in a customer’s hometown.

Beyond this, there is a secret weapon every company can use: Put a spotlight on your best brand ambassadors, your own associates and team members. Many times, their stories provide the authentic connection customers are seeking. They illustrate how we have helped our own people, given them opportunities, allowed them to make a difference in some way.

If you can find a story like this, you’ll get relevance, resonance and relationship all in one.

What other tips do you have to connect a global brand with a local audience? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet them using the hashtag #mcgblog.

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