Alan VanderMolen, president of international and WE+ at WE Communications, says you need to understand how to reach people in different markets to successfully communicate on a global scale.
In this interview, Alan discusses understanding clients’ diverse needs, starting a dialogue with your audience and becoming an important presence in local target markets.
You recently joined WE Communications as president, International and WE+. What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
Disrupting. WE is a challenger brand and an independent. As such, we have a unique ability to disrupt the marketing communications marketplace by helping our clients, our people and our prospects relentlessly pursue the possible as it relates to using communication to manage real-time relationships between brands and their consumers and stakeholders.
We have the ability to invest in people, clients and ideas that will make material impacts in our clients’ businesses and in our business.
How do you approach growing an agency globally?
Bottom up. It is vitally important for us to stay close to our clients and to our people in the markets where we operate.
Being global means having the pulse of our clients’ markets collectively so we are better partners to them. To that end, we need to be deeply involved and embedded in the markets where we operate.
What are some key components of successful global communications?
There are two parts: First is a realization that global really means “multi-local.” If a company or brand wants to communicate on a global basis, it needs to look at the sum of its local target markets and identify the commonalities for engagement while respecting the different needs of people in the component markets.
Second is an acceptance that the companies and brands need to enable dialogue versus communicate messages. Recognizing horizontal, peer-to-peer dialogues are how relationships are strengthened and maintained and is a key ingredient to successful global communications.
What’s the biggest PR lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
No such thing as “off the record” – with any constituency.
What advice do you have for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Have a fundamental understanding of video storytelling. Have a fundamental understanding of converged media.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…in Ohio.
2. My daily newspaper of choice is…Google.
3. If I won the lottery, I’d…go to work.
4. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…espresso.
5. I laugh most at…Bill Murray.
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