ITL #529   Striking a balance: telling local stories through a global lens

1 year ago

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How do you create a unified corporate narrative while staying sensitive to regional and even local identities? By Emily Teitelbaum.



In recent years we have witnessed the friction between global political regionalization and deep economic interconnectedness. Our economy is more internationally connected than ever, even as we become more divided — a phenomenon referred to as “glocalization.”

 

This catch-22 makes the job of corporate communicators from global organizations more complex than ever. How do we create one core narrative that conveys unified corporate identity, messaging, and values while being sensitive to global, regional, and even local identities?

 

As Chief Communications Officer for Libra Group, a global organization with 30 operating entities in nearly 60 countries, I see the challenge and importance of balancing these two competing dynamics while reaching our audiences with authenticity and transparency.

 

At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, we saw a move away from the global lens when talking about issues or announcements. Rather, issues are being evaluated with an Intensely local focus, and news is promoted to targeted, niche audiences.

 

The risks of hyper localization

In hyper localization, we risk furthering division and diminishing connection to brand purpose. That’s not to say that targeting content is without distinct advantages — it can ensure that a variety of audiences receive content relevant to their environment, culture, and priorities. Our narratives lose power over time without a core, authentic message that unifies and connects people. There is a careful balance to strike — showing up authentically with a greater purpose while engaging your specific audiences in ways that matter to them.

 

Much of the work of the modern Chief Communications Officer is trying to pinpoint what needs to be common across a global organization and what can differ locally. In particular, how do you take concepts that span nations for international companies — like strategy, culture and values — and make them feel relevant and authentic in different parts of the world?

 

At Libra Group, we approach this with a unique lens. Not only are we looking to tell global stories around the world, but also across highly diverse industries, including aviation, maritime shipping, renewable energy, and hospitality. For this reason, in our approach to storytelling we look at what trends in one sector could be impactful in another.

 

Aircraft for sustainable ecotourism

For example, our aviation subsidiary, LCI Aviation, recently acquired up to 125 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, fueled by energy with zero carbon emissions, and will lease 10 of those aircraft to Aria Hotels, our hospitality company in Greece. This is the first hospitality company directly leasing aircraft for sustainable ecotourism, offering a more affordable, carbon-free method of travel that protects our resources and makes us even more connected. For Libra Group, we show the power of our global ecosystem of operating entities by telling these stories to inspire stakeholders around the world.

 

The reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to storytelling. What works in one place may not work in others. At Libra, we lean into an integrated approach that leverages the vast scale and diversity of our portfolio, while remaining sensitive to cultural differences, changes in the news cycle, and topics our audiences care about. At the same time, we work to see the larger global story.

 

Three considerations that inform our approach include:

 

  • Credibility is essential to break through the noise to reach our desired audiences. Knowing where you fit into the space and not being afraid to pull back the curtain on the strategy behind the more localized initiatives is critical. It is also important to bring expertise and a strong, clear point of view to the table, whether on cultural, economic, political, or technological issues.

 

  • People are highly impacted by relatable, authentic, and geographically relevant stories. Incorporating real anecdotes and tying local stories to a larger strategy, issue, or trend creates a greater sense of significance beyond regional relevance alone and can humanize industries that would otherwise appear cold and clinical.

 

  • For our messages to have a meaningful impact, we can’t be afraid to call on third-party validators, uplift diverse voices, and demonstrate the connection between our work through a wider lens.

 

With so much information saturating every media source, businesses have a unique opportunity to share perspectives and information in a way that matters to audiences. By balancing tailored, localized content with a connected, overarching story, we’re able to bring content to life in a meaningful way for diverse audiences while bringing them along on our organization’s strategic journey.

 

 

 


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The Author

Emily Teitelbaum

Emily Teitelbaum, Chief Communications Officer, Libra Group.

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