Home is more than a spot on a map. Ask any New Yorker — there’s a reason “where does upstate begin?” is hotly debated. It’s the same reason Buffalonians will correct anyone who dares say they’re upstate. (They’re in Western New York, thank you very much.)
It’s because each geographic location — a person’s original or adopted home — has personality. Unique characteristics. Differences. Things that inspire pride. Things that bring about challenges.
Recently, The Martin Group partnered with the International Center of the Capital Region to host separate delegations from North Macedonia and Ethiopia — groups of government officials and businesspeople visiting America as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
We shared some best practices for communications and advocacy — tips that our visitors could apply back home. But along the way, we also learned that when it comes to public affairs and public relations, some takeaways are truly universal.
Making a Difference Starts with Listening
Our practitioners are first class. We’re providing strategic counsel to some of the most prestigious companies in the nation and navigating the largest issues in New York State.
Therefore, our knowledge can potentially be applied beyond the borders of the United States.
Before meeting with the North Macedonian and Ethiopian delegations, we planned out the topics we’d cover and the tips we’d bring to the table. And in each case, we pivoted toward completely different directions after hearing about the communications challenges of our guests.
The lesson? Great communication starts with listening. So does making a difference.
Remembering the Basics
The basics are still the basics. In our line of business, a communicator must develop a reputation as a consistent, reliable, and trustworthy source of information. Maintaining that reputation is just as important.
That’s priority No. 1 because reputation is the key — wherever you are — to generating interest in your company or cause, building relationships with journalists, and increasing support among your audiences.
Communicating Is Challenging
While our social, political, and cultural environments may be vastly different, some struggles remain the same.
Our team learned through discussions with each delegation that we all face similar challenges when communicating to key stakeholders and raising one’s public profile. Vocal opposition, untimely breaking news, forging relationships with key groups — the list goes on.
The work is hard and often, stakes are high.
Repeating Your Most Important Messages
Reputation is everything. (See what we did there?) Its foundation is a combination of trust and respect, both of which are critical in any business, but especially in public communications.
We advise our clients to continually repeat their most important messages. Don’t let up. But talking points won’t be heard if you’ve lost trust or respect among your customers, constituents, members of the media, government officials, or other stakeholder groups.
Keep your focus on reputation, starting with trust and respect. Build it. And rebuild it, if you have to.
Here’s the last and most important takeaway: No matter where you call home, we’re all global citizens.
The world’s community is strengthened by making connections and exchanging ideas. We all have so much to learn from each other. Let’s not shy away from those opportunities.
We all have the power to make a difference, whether it’s in our own backyards or across borders. The Martin Group is committed to partners like the International Center for the Capital Region that are making an impact — and giving us a chance to make one of our own.
Provide us with your information and we’ll be in touch soon.