Experts share tips on reaching the worldwide marketplace

global panel

Today's advanced technologies have made it easier for companies to reach the global public relations market, say public relations specialists Rebecca Smith, Andrew Hudson and Lisa Sigler.

Rebecca Smith, who has worked in press relations at the White House and is now in executive communications at Sun Microsystems' home office in Menlo Park, California, stated that her company "segments the market now." The company takes a "bricks and mortar" approach. Bricks represent the main part of their market and mortar, the off, or fringe, markets.

Smith said her company's president writes an unedited blog that he updates daily. The company believes that a successful blog must be honest, and that having a blog helps the company achieve transparency. The president encourages feedback on his blog articles, which has proved to be a useful tactic, generating helpful ideas from readers. She said they often roll out new products in Japan, "follow the sun" around the globe, reviewing emails in real time, and can make changes to the product, if necessary, even before it is released to the U.S. market.

Andrew Hudson, senior director of sales, marking and corporate communications for Denver-based Frontier Airlines, stated that cultures are drawing apart as the global community becomes closer.

But cultural perceptions are still important, Hudson said. For example, there is no such word as "customer" in the Japanese language. The closest translation is "honored guest." They currently are learning about the culture of Mexico as they begin new service to Guadalajara and seek to bring Mexican tourists to the U.S.

Lisa Sigler, president of Sigler Communications, has a long history of working in global public relations through her own firm. The explosion of technology, she says, enables globalization — the ability to work anywhere. She recently developed customer satisfaction reports, including environmental stewardship questions, for each office of an international mining companying, sometimes making calls in the middle of the night because of time changes.

Sigler said that most companies are now quite transparent and truthful in dealing with customers. They also strive to minimize negative environmental impact. For anyone involved in reaching markets around the world, she highly recommends reading The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.

— Suzanne Tate, North Carolina Press Women