Tricks that travel can teach us

Whether u have the travel bug or not, the one thing that u would often hear is – to eat like locals and stay like locals – every time u travel. This signifies how nurturing the local behaviors and cultures is a better experience, everytime one travels to a new land.
Now this stands true even when you are in the profession as story curators.
One needs to understand what blends well with the locals and what is it that will interest them. A blanket approach no more works. Yes you can debate it saying, what about globalisation making it one big market? The reality is that now the universe is available but as a cluster of smaller and diversified markets.
PR goals for a brand need to encompass what the brand should be speaking overall, however, its also imperative for us to understand how and what should be communicated in these markets.
Working with Castrol during the 2011 Cricket World Cup, we had the opportunity to create an innovative experiential initiative. The teams created a first-ever technology experiential centres, where audiences could bat or bowl and compare their scores with that of the actual players. Even though, it was the same format replicated across cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Ahmedabad – the essence was to understand what would attract the local media. For the Ahmedabad media, Rahul Dravid’s presence was a big draw, whereas Brett Lee singing for the Bangalore media was an absolute win-win! Mumbai being the glamorous house of media, we got all the ambassador’s to connect with media. Each market appreciated how Castrol reached out with their story, had a unique ambassador for each market and a different approach versus other brands associated with the World Cup.
It’s a great learning to understand how each market would react to a particular news. Probably sharing a story about the same might interest them, if it’s absolutely new and never explored. But educating them about the practice might not. So understand what and where about your audience.
Australia, particularly Melbourne, is known for their coffees and the gorgeous cafes all around. World over, brands boast about the Australian Baristas, when launching their local cafes. So taking Australian coffees or their baristas to other continents, would create a story in itself, but might not be the same if a coffee brand plans to enter Down Under.
Evaluate what part of your brand story would attract the local audiences, especially the media. Our role to understand the essence of different markets is what will add the silver lining for any brand we work with.
Always make sure to dig into an issue before jumping onto a particular bandwagon. Just because we have been reading for years about Kashmir and have perceptions that it’s not safe, might not be the reality. Personally, I was in Gulmarg this year June and we heard the locals worry about the lesser tourists. Not only that, they seemed pretty vocal in justifying how safe their state is, again a blanket approach couldn’t be forced down the whole state.
PR Lesson to learn: Dig down to the heart of any issue. Educate yourself before making a statement or taking a position.
Brands like Disney are powerhouses for a reason; they offer clean, clear, consistent branding focused on positive brand experiences across every touch point. Disneyland’s across countries might follow a similar format, yet are unique for all of us visiting different countries.
PR Lesson to learn: The experiences consumers have with your brand are everything. Protect, own and build them with intention.
In travel like we don’t believe everything without enough research, so goes in PR, when communicating with focused markets. So travel to understand how locals consume their news, probably that will help us create interesting story ideas.
Pooja Trehan
Associate Director, Marketing, SugarBox

Bringing up a 7 year-old boy and building a career in Communications have possibly been the key driving forces in my life! Obviously, apart from the 6am runs and eternal love for black coffee. The reality of 2020 hit this industry with the worst storm, but gave me a silver lining through awards & recognition in the 40Under40 category for PR and Corporate communication professionals (three of them in one year!). My goal is to keep - Communications - as the big picture, whilst being the wanderlust traveller who is reading all the time!

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