News and Insights

Why Has ‘Global’ Become a Dirty Word?

October 22, 2020

This week I joined the PRovoke Global PR Summit 2020 to hear some of the best minds in public relations and marketing explore the (many) pressing issues facing global brands. And it didn’t disappoint. 

Finn Partners convened a standout session, “Why Has ‘Global’ Become a Dirty Word?” The session featured brilliant communications pros from DHL, LogicMonitor and Marvell, and explored the nuances of being a truly global company, including navigating a number of complex international issues —  COVID-19 and other recent world events, evolving policy frameworks, and other current political and economic realities — in 2020.

Panel moderator Lauren Young, editor of digital special projects at Reuters, explored how the panelists viewed globalization within their own organizations, and whether they had experienced changes in global thinking, either internally and externally.

Merrily McGugan, director of global brand and communications at LogicMonitor, explained being a global company means having scale while remaining agile: “The landscape is always changing. Over the past few years, we have shifted some of our office locations due to changes in the political landscape combined with our growing needs.”

Stacey Keegan, vice president, global corporate marketing and communications at Marvell, shared that “being mindful that global messaging isn’t one size fits all” is critical for communicators in today’s environment. Keegan elaborated that, given Marvell’s semiconductor business has prominent offices in both the U.S. and Asia, “COVID-19 has proven particularly challenging as it impacts each region differently. “ This has continued through today as some offices have reopened in certain geographies, while others remain closed, with staff working remotely.

“Taking an approach of transparency, meaning very transparent and very frequent communications” has been a viable strategy for global internal communications, according to Neby Ejigu, partner, director of marketing technology at Finn Partners. 

Ejigu added that Finn Partners has been encouraging its clients to present more thought leadership than ever before: “Clients across different industries tend to talk about themselves in a specific tone. The goal is to humanize them and their language. Consumers still want to have some level of connection with the brand — not with the product or services themselves, but [rather], how [the brand] affects them.”

In discussing collaboration with local governments, Anita Gupta — head of global media relations and Americas, and CEO of communications, thought leadership and communication strategy at global logistics leader DHL — spoke to how original research can prompt more direct communication with government entities: “The most important discussion in the media right now is … the [COVID-19] vaccine. DHL did a whitepaper about the biggest hurdles for distribution of a vaccine. Because we distributed this [whitepaper] all over the world, we had individual governments actually calling us [to ask] about [its] components, like shipping and cold storage.” 

Gupta also noted how communications has always been a “lighthouse function” at DHL, especially now during the pandemic. In fact, communications has a firm seat at the table during daily morning meetings with the global CEO. One of the meeting’s outputs is an internal update that is sent to all employees before lunchtime — an important endeavor toward keeping DHL’s 550,000 employees from across the world connected and in the know.  

So is “global” actually a dirty word in the business world? Gupta shared, “The main reason people consider ‘global’ a ‘dirty word’ is that the fruits of globalization have not percolated to the bottom half of society.” Ejigu highlighted that “clients have a phobia of this change,” when it comes to the impact of globalization and what it could mean for them today. 

But the consensus from the panel is that communications will become even more global at heart; we will continue to put audiences first, regardless of geography; and the word “global” will regain its glory.