Understanding Global Public Relations

Cultures and customs differ around the world. It’s best to know of and be prepared for what may be different while traveling and working with people from different places. Understanding global public relations can be extremely useful and is necessary in the field.


On Monday, February 13 in Loosemore Auditorium, the winter 2017 semester APR Speaker Series presented global public relations consultant, professor, and author of her book: “Pitch, Tweet or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication”, Kara Alaimo.


Alaimo’s presentation consisted of her talking the audience through factors about cultural clusters around the world and how to adapt public relations messages, strategies, and tactics to these differences. The cultural groups included Confucian Asia, South Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Anglo Europe, Latin Europe, Germanic Europe, Nordic Europe, and Eastern Europe.


As she spoke about each group, Alaimo outlined aspects from them that are specific to the culture. She stressed that doing something that you normally would from your culture may be perceived differently in another.


Bri Olson, an APR student at GVSU, relates her take away from Alaimo’s presentation about global PR to PRSA’s code of ethics:


“I was most shocked to learn how the Confucianism approach affected Asian culture. From Alaimo’s experience, she realized the Confucianism approach taught citizens and business leaders that talking about a problem makes it worse; so, if you have a problem, don’t tell anyone. This is highly unethical to do in public relations. Our Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics clearly states the importance of transparency to be an ethical practitioner so this was such a foreign concept for me.”


Olson’s example from Alaimo’s presentation shows that knowing how to adjust to a culture can be very important. Alaimo explained that since the 1990s, International PR professors have been teaching their students the generic/specific theory of international PR – if you are going to practice PR in a new culture you need to think about five things and adapt your strategy:


  • Political-economic systems
  • Culture
  • Extent of activism locally
  • Level of economic development
  • Media system (who owns it, media access, and media penetration)


The big picture that students and professionals can take away from this APR Speaker series is that, from the words of Kara Alaimo, “all of us should be prepared to practice public relations globally.”



How to Prepare Yourself for the Professional World

my-headshotAs graduation approaches, it’s normal for seniors to feel nervous about entering the real world and their success in the future. Juniors, too will be searching for summer internships and building their resumes. I have gathered some great insight from a Grand Valley State alum, Morgan Yingst to calm the winter semester jitters. Although Morgan’s career is in Public Relations, her advice and experiences are applicable to any field.

Morgan holds the Senior Communications Specialist position at the Illinois Supreme Court, where she writes news releases daily in regards to updates on the Court or judicial appointments and vacancies.

Morgan feels that GrandPR has prepared her for her current role. Morgan joined GrandPR when she was a sophomore. She started as an Account Associate, and with a lot of hard work and ambition, she became the CEO. Morgan gained experience writing and sending news releases for GrandPR clients, including the City Lights Music Festival and ArtPrize. Her experience working with different clients with a variety of needs gave her the confidence to send out statewide news releases in her current position.  Whether it be in GrandPR or any other organization that you are involved in, step up and take on a new task. Stepping outside of your comfort zone will help develop confidence.

Confidence is essential in Morgan’s workplace, specifically, because she is the youngest on her team. Morgan utilizes her communication skills that she acquired in GrandPR, so she can present herself as knowledgeable and ensure her voice is heard.

Obtaining a position at the Illinois Supreme Court is not an easy task, but Morgan worked at the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), the largest voluntary organization for attorneys in Illinois, prior to getting her current job.

People say it’s about who you know when getting a job. This is partially true in Morgan’s case. Her supervisor at the ISBA left to become the Director of Communications for the Illinois Supreme Court. He informed Morgan of the opening, and she seized the opportunity.

It is not uncommon that people enter a career that differs from what they had planned or even studied. However, Morgan always knew she was passionate about writing. At a young age, she entered short stories into local contests and served as an editor for her high school newspaper and yearbook. Morgan had a prior knowledge of public relations going into Grand Valley and declared that as her major at orientation. Morgan indicates “after my first semester of classes, I knew it was the right fit.”

On the other hand, Morgan did not expect to be in a nonprofit or government industry. Throughout her college years, she was convinced she wanted to do corporate communications. Morgan wants to encourage college students to explore various industries, research different organizations, and expand their skill set while they are young. Morgan admits “I’m not an expert in the judicial system, and that’s okay!” Her secret to success is having the courage to ask questions in order to communicate as an expert.