There are 5.16 billion international internet users. This is over 65% of the world’s population.
In 2023, reputation management is vital to the success of your business. In a study conducted by Deloitte, the majority of business executives surveyed considered a brand’s reputation as its highest strategic risk area. In a consumer study conducted by TrustPilot, a positive online reputation was ranked as the #1 most important factor when considering frequenting a business.
If your business operates in multiple countries – or is hoping to do so in the future – your reputation management strategy will have to be international.
Here, we will define international reputation management, identify who needs an international reputation management strategy, and outline what you need to consider when developing your own strategy.
What is international reputation management?
Reputation management refers to the combination of strategies a business or individual uses to influence how it or they are perceived by others. Reputation management is generally used to build a reputation for a brand or company that does not have a strong reputation or to repair its reputation in the wake of a reputation crisis, such as a lawsuit, negative news coverage, public scrutiny, etc.
How does international reputation management differ from a standard reputation management strategy?
While any reputation management strategy will have similar methods, international reputation management brings additional considerations, particularly as the number of worldwide online users grows. In a world that is increasingly connected by the internet, you are able to reach a wider audience, but this is not without its risks; in 2023, information about your business, such as regional news and online conversations, is more accessible, and audience responses can vary dramatically, as reputation management in one country or region may look very different from another.
Perhaps the most important and complicated aspect of international reputation management over local reputation management is the variety in your business’s audience, or stakeholders. The core of any reputation management strategy is identifying your audience – customers, employees, investors, industry experts, etc. – and monitoring and responding to their perception of your business; however, when your business operates in multiple countries, you have to consider a wider range of audiences and best practices. What may work in one country may not in another. An unintentional misstep can cause backlash, particularly if the negative response is then shared heavily on social media or populates prominent in Google search results. Things as simple as the use of idiomatic phrases, poorly translated content, or nonstandard PR practices can have a huge impact on your reputation in a particular country and must be considered if you operate internationally.
That said, if you implement a robust international reputation management strategy, you can grow your business abroad more effectively, building credibility and trust as you expand.
Who needs an international reputation management strategy?
If your business operates internationally or is planning on expanding internationally in the future, you need an international reputation management strategy. The global e-commerce market has grown quickly in recent years and that isn’t changing anytime soon.
With more businesses expanding internationally, it isn’t only important to have a strong international reputation to keep your business protected in the wake of a reputation crisis, but to also stand out amongst the competition in order to help your company grow and appeal to a wider audience.
What to Consider as an International Brand
If you are new to reputation management and building your reputation management strategy, you will want to start from the beginning. If you are in the process of developing your reputation management strategy for a brand or business that operates internationally, consider the following:
To build an effective international reputation management strategy, you need to identify the markets you’re operating in, or may operate in in the future. This can include:
- Where you have offices or employees
- Where you have customers
- Where you have brand awareness
- Product availability based on location
- Where you are hoping to expand in the future
- Whether your competitors have expanded internationally, and what markets they have expanded into
As I said earlier, knowing your audience is key to developing any effective reputation management strategy. Your audience consists of prospective and current customers, prospective and current employees, investors, journalists, competitors, and any other groups relevant to your industry and business.
When your business operates internationally, you also have to consider the variations within these audience categories based on where they are located. Culture, language, and consumer needs can vary from country to country, and these differences will need to be incorporated into your product, online presence, marketing strategy, and PR efforts.
Once you identify your audiences and their differences, ensure that this information informs your reputation management strategy.
How Content Changes
Audiences always inform content strategy, and appealing to different audiences means applying a personalized content strategy to every region your business operates in.
One of the most important areas to consider in your international content strategy is translation. Poor quality content is always detrimental, but content that is badly translated, does not make sense, or reads awkwardly to native speakers is not only ineffective, but can come across as not valuing a particular audience, which can harm your reputation. Employing native speakers, or speakers who are intimately familiar with the country and language you are creating content for, will give you the best opportunity to grow your relationship with that particular audience.
If your company releases a press release, uploads a blog post, shares something on social media, or otherwise publishes content, consider the following:
- Is this announcement universal to the company, or only relevant to certain regions, countries, or audiences?
- Are we publishing to the correct platform based on the target audience?
- Is it appropriate to share this content in this country?
- Are we matching the tone of our industry in this particular country?
While you may reuse content to some extent (website copy about your company, for example), be careful not to just recycle content across languages. Whenever you are publishing content for multiple countries or regions, take into account culture, current events, politics, religion, and any other factors that may influence how your content is received. What is relevant in one country may not be in another, and consumers are sensitive to any content that comes across as generic or canned.
Impact of News Coverage
How your business appears in the news is a defining factor in your overall reputation. Particularly when your business is international, not all news coverage will have the same impact.
If you are an international business, you will want to understand the global impact of both negative and positive news coverage. Consider:
- Is the publication local, regional, national, or international?
- Is the publication only prominent in local search results, or is it ranking elsewhere?
- Has the publication been syndicated, or have other news outlets picked up the story?
- What language is the news story in?
The more information you can get about the nature and popularity of a news feature, the more effective your response will be. Smaller features that affect a particular audience will require a different response than news features that become larger and affect multiple audiences.
Reputation management for companies that operate internationally brings in new considerations and areas to focus on for your strategy. Status Labs has substantial experience with international reputation management and can help you build and execute a custom reputation management strategy based on your needs. Click here to book a free consultation.