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3 Strategies for Integrating Regional Communications Teams

John Boitnott

Jan 21, 2020

The basics are the same the world over. All comms teams are tasked with securing brand coverage, building influencer programs, and quantifying the value of the buzz they are generating. However, as your brand grows and moves into new markets—or suddenly finds itself in one through an acquisition—you've got to integrate regional communications teams into your organization. Here's advice on keeping the chaos at bay and ensuring your brand message stays consistent, while taking local nuances into consideration. Once you've got your teams in place, make sure everyone—everywhere—is using the latest best practices by sharing our comprehensive ebooks on managing media relations, building an influencer program, and setting PR and social KPIs.

Integrating regional communications teams into your marketing and comms organization presents both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is the chance to more fully support brand initiatives in new markets. However, this opportunity also presents a simultaneous challenge. Leveraging comms in a more geographically diffuse strategy means you may risk losing some control over your messaging.

Define the Relationship Between Regional Communications Teams and HQ

The solution is to take an integrated “hub and spoke” approach by retaining centralized authority over the work of all regional communications teams, issuing clear and decisive guidelines, and then empowering the regions within those guidelines to speak more authentically and effectively with those local markets and media.

Start with a good base by hiring the right talent and assembling a strong team, with a competent, proven leader. Next, communicate your expectations clearly with a formal, written brand voice and style guide. Documenting processes is essential to good management and consistency in both performance and reporting on initiatives

Then you can use the following three strategies to keep the working relationship strong and stable, with the executive suite in charge and the regional comms teams empowered to perform to their strengths locally.

1. Retain Executive Control of Messaging

To prevent regional communications teams from going rogue, it’s essential to create a clear, straightforward process for messaging approval and publication. Outline with as much specificity as possible both what needs prior executive-level approval as well as where and for which messaging opportunities your local teams can use their own discretion.

This centralized-with-delegation approach helps you retain sufficient control over remote teams, while still allowing them enough freedom to use their own superior localized knowledge and familiarity to shape and frame the core message.

Another vital aspect of keeping disparate comms teams in line (without unduly restricting them from doing their jobs) is the adoption of clearly defined, written messaging policies. Set up messaging guidelines that are consistent but flexible enough to work for local audiences with different cultural sensitivities.

Together with a well-written brand voice guide, a uniform corporate messaging policy will provide local teams the necessary boundaries and framework within which they can most effectively do their jobs.

2. Empower Regional Communications Teams to Research and Serve Their Markets

Every geographic market is different, sometimes wildly so. What sells beautifully in Singapore might bomb in Barcelona, and vice versa. The next trend in one region may never reach the others.

Instead of guessing about demographics, cultural sensitivities, preferences, and buying behavior, regional teams should create and use a local research-backed comms guide as an addendum to the company’s official brand voice and style guide.

And let the information flow both ways freely. Share as much documentation and background research as you can with regional comms teams. Err on the side of sharing too much information, rather than being too selective and sparing with it. Resources such as your editorial calendar, old media pitches, market testing notes and meeting minutes, along with the context for each resource, can empower your local teams to perform at a higher level for you and your company.

3. Track Regional Messaging and Coverage

Media monitoring lets your company process every message and piece of content that’s published regarding your company, its brands and personnel, its competitors, and your industry or field.

While it may be feasible for an employee to search for online coverage and create manual reports, using a monitoring tool is a much more efficient way to go. It’s a sound investment in your company’s communications strategy. Modern media monitoring tools use cutting edge technology such as algorithms and machine learning to more effectively and quickly scan multiple sources for digital, broadcast, and print coverage of your brand, company and personnel.

Monitoring media mentions and coverage gives you the data necessary to determine the effectiveness of your local teams. It can also provide the information that either tells you your comms strategy is working or suggests that perhaps some revisions to that strategy are in order.

What’s crucial is to consistently monitor in every region—and every language—keeping track of brand trends and benchmarking regions against each other to best understand where resources are needed most. To accomplish this, set up reporting and establish benchmarks that will help you as the executive compare the performance for regional teams. Use the monitoring report data to evaluate where resources are most needed or more resources should be deployed, and where course corrections are needed.

Next Steps: Share Best Practices with Your Regional Communications Teams

Working with regional comms teams helps you deliver your corporate message much more effectively and efficiently. Make sure each member of the team and everyone working with the team at your main office is clear on their strengths and let each member perform to those strengths without overstepping into someone else’s remit. Strong guidelines and clear policies will help everyone stay on task and focus on amplifying the company’s voice.

Once you’ve got your teams in place, make sure everyone—everywhere—is using the latest best practices by sharing our comprehensive ebooks on managing media relations, building an influencer program, and setting KPIs and reporting goals.