A version of this story first appeared in PRCA UK. Click here to read it.
Woe betide the PR professionals who think cookie-cutter best practices and strategies can be applied to all markets; one size does not fit all.
The diversity of culture and communication is what makes public relations such an exciting industry to be in. Every community has different cultural nuances and social norms that must be skillfully navigated to ensure a positive reputational outcome.
PR tactics that are commonplace in one market may very well be viewed as strange or even offensive in another. In an era where communications outcomes have an unquestionable impact on business bottom lines, brands cannot afford to ignore the power of the local influence in their messaging and campaigns — even as they pursue their global ambitions.
Audiences need to feel like a brand sees and understands them, speaks their language, and is ‘one of them’. Recognition engenders acceptance, which in turn builds loyalty. This is where local insights are invaluable for effective PR.
On-the-ground familiarity with cultural nuances are the secret ingredient, the ace in the sleeve, that enables brands to achieve true connections with both the media and the people — a concept that has driven Redhill since day one. With Redhill, global clients are serviced via one agency; we deliver on-brand messaging using local voices in their markets of choice.
At Redhill, people and culture always come first. Even though we’ve expanded from our Singapore headquarters to over 17 locations around the world, every team in every location was first built with local talent.
Even our first acquisition (of the Hong Kong-based Creative Consulting Group (CCG)) didn’t involve any changing of the guard — the team is strongly local but works on global accounts.
By having on-ground expertise, we’re able to better share our experiences on how best to approach the local markets and media for ideal outcomes. Our teammates’ insights have often meant the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign; learning from each other is what makes us a truly ‘glocal’ agency, and it’s a label we’re proud to embrace.
On-the-ground familiarity with cultural nuances are the secret ingredient, the ace in the sleeve, that enables brands to achieve true connections with both the media and the people
When my Thailand team sent over a press release for a new hotel restaurant opening to our Indonesia counterparts for translation and dissemination, they advised that it wouldn’t be suitable as alcohol and pork were mentioned — both unpopular media subjects in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
In South Korea, the costs for media engagements seemed prohibitively expensive to me at first — until I learned from our Korean team that in-person meals with the media are pivotal to building media relationships, which cannot be purely transactional and must be factored into the client fee.
Political landscapes, cultural sensitivities, societal norms — who else but a local would you turn to for help navigating these? Anyone can buy a press wire membership and push out a press release, but only local teams can provide the insights needed to give the messages the greatest chance of sticking, along with the relationships required to secure interviews and features for differentiated content.
With this in mind, I’m thrilled to be leading the expansion for Redhill into the UK market, which is currently well underway.
We’ve seen an upswing in clients looking for exposure in the UK, especially in the travel and hospitality (with the gradual reopening of borders) and agri-food-tech industries. Whilst we have dipped our toes in the UK previously, this signals that the time is finally right for Redhill to plant our own flag.
An official presence will help us scale up our offerings to clients who might want to enter this market, as well as allow us to better service UK clients looking to expand anywhere in Asia, the Middle East and other regions around the world. On a personal level, it also marks a full circle of sorts; I cut my teeth in the London PR scene and maintain strong relationships to this day with many senior editors and journalists.
The prospect of bringing Redhill’s excellence to a market I am so familiar with is exhilarating. It seems the perfect match: an agile business hub that is constantly looking to expand outwards, and a fast-growing agency with a worldwide network and local touch.
I’m looking forward to building Redhill’s UK presence from the ground up and to delivering native expertise to achieve globally-recognised results. Get ready London — we’re about to show you #HowWeRoll.