There may come a time in your career when you are faced with an opportunity to introduce yourself or your company to the people in another country or region. While a majority of the information you will relay is going to be relatively standard across the board, there are some things of which you should be aware if you plan to venture off your own turf. These things will apply whether the PR is personal or business, formal or informal.
Know your topic
There are thousands of blogs and online articles out there written by people who have something to say but lack the knowledge to back it up. Rare exceptions aside, lack of knowledge regarding your topic is going to be evident and even if your grammar and punctuation are letter perfect, chances are that your submission will not be well received. This is particularly true in a more professional setting. What can be worse than using an online forum to impress and coming off as someone who doesn’t have even the slightest clue? If you must write about a somewhat unfamiliar topic, do some research first – you’ll be thankful you did.
Beware of language barriers
International forums can be great for getting your name out there. However, it is important to remember that not everyone speaks the same language. Additionally, there are regional dialects which can cause difficulties with printed text. When submitting information to a foreign market, it’s imperative to know who will be reading your words. Try to make your ideas clear and concise while using proper speech and limiting excessive use of jargon and slang. It doesn’t have to be grammatically perfect but the text should be presented in such a way that people who may have limited knowledge of the language can still understand and appreciate the work.
Beware of lingo and spelling
When preparing a work written in English, there aren’t too many things to worry about in regards to spelling. The differences between American English and the Queen’s English are relatively easy to learn. When writing in other languages, such as Spanish or French, one must be aware that there are differences between the Spanish spoken in Mexico versus the language of the homeland. The same can be said of French Canadian and the mother tongue of France.
Beyond differences in spelling, one should definitely be aware of the differences in lingo. As with many things, if you are uncertain about the word or phrase – don’t use it. Some pieces of lingo will not change from country to country if the word or phrase is part of a specific niche, such as computer programming or auto mechanics. If the word or phrase is more general, be careful how you use it, including the context. There are some pieces of lingo that are easy to research and use. For example, if you are writing a piece on a UK website about European cars, it’s not a big deal to refer to the trunk as the boot. Or, if you sell French fries, calling them chips is advisable.
Beyond the obvious, it’s best to stick to the tried and true. Taking the time to do a bit of research before writing can also make a world of difference. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.