International crises and differences in cultural perspectives

A glance at a newspaper is enough and you almost always find some organisations involved in some sort of crisis. And indeed there is a plethora of different reasons that will force an organisation to engage in crisis communication and crisis management. But what became clear in recent years is that crises are becoming more and more international. Regardless of Brexit, globalisation has made the world a common market place with customers, suppliers and producers who have entwined business relations. This makes things difficult to begin with, but when a crisis hits your organisation and creates victims that you barely know most organisations find themselves unprepared and overwhelmed.


What makes international crises so difficult for most organisations is a difference in cultural perspectives and an absence or complete disregard for ethical standards. As a firm expands its international presence, its vulnerability to crises may also increase. There is a greater potential for an ethical breach to occur as well. Two clear examples can create severe ethical dilemmas and can cause tremendous reputational damage:

1) The temptation to make illegal cash payments
Illegal cash payments is a fancy way of saying bribery. Isn’t it? Well, to us in the Western World it seems that way but in many parts of the world, offering bribes is an accepted way to conduct business. What should you do in a region where there is no legal infrastructure that forces everyone to play by the same rules?

2) The possibility that a foreign contractor is highly unethical
The working condition of Apple’s main assembler Foxconn has caused negative press as workers committed suicide as an ultimate protest due to perceived inhumane working conditions. Samsung was fined to pay $85.8 million to 200 people who have worked in their vendor’s chip and display factory and later fell ill.


There are measures that organisations can take to avoid these pitfalls, create an ethical culture and, if needed, be ready to manage a crisis. Enthusiasm for crisis management and training, focusing on the prevention of ethical breaches and abiding by both government regulations and the highest industry standards will be good first steps every organisation should take. A code of ethics should be drafted with organisation-wide principals and behaviour to which every employer is accountable. Short classes and workshops to raise awareness and top-level executives that set examples have been found to be effective measures too. Realistic goal setting that does not encourage cutting corners to attain impossible goals and regular ethical audits can all help to establish an ethical culture at your work place where potential ethical dilemmas such as bribery or dubious foreign suppliers are dealt with accordingly.

By Claude-Patrick Kleineidam

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Calling all CIPR International Members – We want to hear from you on ETHICS!

As part of the CIPR Ethics Festival this month the CIPR International Committee wants to hear from YOU on your personal experiences of ethical communications.

In a world that is increasingly international, it’s not always a walk in the park for global PR professionals to act as the guardian of an organisation’s reputation while respecting the local cultures and traditions they span. As someone who is lucky enough to have had a career that has taken them all over the world, I have first-hand experience of the dilemmas you can face.

Agencies who have asked for payment for coverage or introductions; publications which have expected ‘something in return’ for a write up or attendance at an event; measurement experts who have offered to bend the rules and pump up results…

Have you had similar experiences you can bring to the mix? And can you share how you dealt with these experiences in an ethical way? We would love to hear some good global examples of best practice, examples of how you’ve learned, and to hear about the local markets you operate in.

Email with your stories and guest blogs and help make the CIPR Ethics Festival a success for CIPR International!

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I hope that my success will encourage young aspiring PR practitioners

by Kathryn Moore, winner of the 2016 Douglas Smith Student Award

A flight to London, delicious Spanish and Vietnamese food, a day spent in one of the UK’s finest independent communications consultancies, and a crystal trophy presented by the 2016 CIPR President, was the result of two month’s dedication required to create the winning entry for the 2016 Douglas Smith Student Award.


2016 CIPR President Rob Brown and Kathryn Moore

The brief for the competition was to create an international campaign for a fictitious company – ‘Ride Together’ – to promote car sharing in major cities across the globe. My first priority when commencing my submission was to fully understand the brief, in order to respond as accurately as possible. I deconstructed every area that could be considered and followed this up with intensive research. This section of my entry was in fact 10 pages long at one stage! (Fortunately for the judges, I managed to reduce it to 1½ pages for the final submission.) From this, there were key three objectives I sought to achieve as a result of the execution of the campaign:

• Improve the target audience’s mental health.
• Improve global environmental health.
• Offer a solution to improve financial stress for the target audience.


I proposed the creation of a mobile app and website that allowed users to record their routine car journeys and thereby connect with other users travelling the same route. This was supported with a strong focus on social sharing features to raise the digital profile of the campaign. Furthermore, the use of scenario-based visuals on adshels to target people arriving at airports and within city hotspots, as a communication channel, was a defining element of my entry.

I was made aware that I won the competition in June earlier this year, and had to keep my success a secret until the presentation took place. And so, for three agonising months I managed to contain my excitement. I am very grateful to CIPR for acknowledging my talent, and am now highly encouraged to continue to strive to climb the PR ladder.

I intend to use the prize money to enhance my education during my final year of study at Ulster University and to enable me to attend CIPR events, workshops and seminars in the future.

Rob Brown, 2016 CIPR President, made the presentation of the trophy and £1000 cheque at the CIPR offices in Russell Square, London. Rob commended the creativity and design talent displayed in my entry. The presentation was followed by Spanish tapas for dinner in the company of Eva Maclaine FCIPR (Immediate past chair of CIPR International and Maclaine Communications); Shirley Collyer (vice chair CIPR International and Lansons), Beatrice Giribaldi (CIPR International Committee and Lansons) and James Le Grice ( CIPR International Committee and ICG).

The next day, I was hosted by Lansons, internationally recognised communications consultancy and seven times named ‘agency of the year’, to experience a workday in the world of PR. One-to-one introductions with professionals in each of Lansons’ specialist sectors brought my knowledge of PR theory from my studies at Ulster University to life, with insight into industry-specific application. Furthermore, I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet Clare Parsons, CEO and co-founder of Lansons. Her character traits as an entrepreneur, businesswoman and PR practitioner are second-to-none, and I am inspired to strive to develop such qualities as hers in the hope that my career may also grow to such great heights.

I hope that my success will encourage young aspiring PR practitioners, especially those in Northern Ireland, to become involved in competitions and events such as the Douglas Smith Student Award. Regardless of my winning, the commitment I made to completing the submission was more than worthwhile; as the award brief challenged me to think at a global scale and develop my PR skillset to a much higher level.

I am now looking forward to commencing my final year of study at Ulster University in a couple of weeks, where I will be seeking to further mature my abilities within PR. I hope to continue to attend the CIPR events in Northern Ireland throughout the course of the next academic year, as the events and seminars I have attended previously were highly beneficial to my learning.

Want to know more? 

Visit CIPR International on Twitter

Learn more about the Douglas Smith Student Award



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How to create a successful brand campaign spanning different countries

The case of UK’s First Mobile Phone Call campaign by Vodafone and Golden Goose PR

The winning team at 2015 CIPR Excellence award ceremony

The winning team at 2015 CIPR Excellence award ceremony

How do you build a successful international PR campaign? We had a chat with the Vodafone Group, a winner of the 2015 CIPR Excellence award in the ‘Global Public Relations Campaign’ category. The award, which recognises a strategic public relations campaign in more than one country either based in the UK or originating overseas, was presented by CIPR International Chair Eva Maclaine.
The award-winning campaign, ‘The 30th Anniversary of the UK’s First Mobile Phone Call’ was realised by Vodafone with the support of Golden Goose PR. ‘The close co-operation between the in-house and agency teams took what could have been a dry, corporate announcement and created a brand moment’, the judges commented.

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In(ternational) conversation with CIPR elections 2015 candidates

In 2015, CIPR members will elect a President-Elect. The election is being contested by Andy Green FCIPR and Jason MacKenzie FCIPR. We used the opportunity to ask the candidates a simple question to which the answer is anything but simple – how are you going to approach the international aspect of the institute and represent the members of CIPR International? We hope the answers below will assist CIPR International members who are eligible to vote in making a decision. Continue reading

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Doing PR in… the United Arab Emirates

doingprintheuaeAgainst its dynamic backdrop, what is it really like to work in PR ‘on the ground’ in the UAE? What are the pitfalls? And how can professionals hope to communicate effectively with such a diverse mix of stakeholders?

The UAE, and Dubai in particular, is used to doing things on a grand scale. Home to the world’s tallest building and the largest manmade island it also lays claim to housing the world’s only 7* hotel and the ‘richest’ horse race along with the largest ever shopping mall. Phew Continue reading

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Top summer PR reads and films

by Andras Sztaniszlav

What are your top books and movies about the PR profession?

In this post, I’ll share some of my favourites.

Although this year’s summer is not as nice and warm as last year’s, we are still in the middle of the holiday season.

After a very busy spring at CIPR International, which included Bessie Lee’s address at the 2015 Maggie Nally Lecture,  focus on the Ukrainian Crisis in one of our events, and CIPR International Chair Eva Maclaine receiving Sir Stephen Tallents medal we could all take a deep breath and relax, myself included.

I wanted to introduce a lighter topic, but stay within the realm of public relations. I took two books and two movies with me on holiday. Needless to say, I will be registering these reading and viewing activities in my CPD. Continue reading

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