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.”




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