Cultural sensitivity and awareness when communicating in a globalised world

In today’s globalised and digitalised world, one could argue that every Brand is potentially an international or global Brand.

As soon as a Brand is out there online and on social media conversing with its followers and has the capacity to deliver a product or service across borders, then they are venturing into global territory.

While this is an amazing opportunity for many small Brands to reach populations that would previously have been out of bounds, it also brings with it a certain responsibility in terms of how they communicate to those different populations. No longer can Brands just think local with their communication messages when online platforms and social media are in the mix.

Of course, we know that big global Brands have always had to adapt their strategy and messaging to local markets, (even if they still make mistakes as we can see in this article below).

Lost in translation : 10 International Marketing Fails

But nowadays with anyone in the world potentially becoming a consumer, and bad buzz lurking around the corner ready to spread like wildfire at the slightest faux pas, any Brand, product or service which communicates must take into consideration cultural and social differences when speaking to their consumers and followers.

And the ones who will be creating those messages are the communication professionals of tomorrow.

Students studying international communication are destined to work in an international environment, not only targeting different countries and consumers with their communication campaigns, but also working with different colleagues and partners around the world. This means they must have acute cultural awareness and develop their curiosity, knowledge and above all sensitivity.

When we look at different job offers out there today for international communication roles, cultural sensitivity and awareness is frequently asked for as part of the skill set required to succeed in that role:

  • cultural sensitivity
  • political awareness and ability to handle sensitive issues with diplomacy in different cultural settings and proven supervisory and leadership skills to manage a diverse, multicultural team in an international organization
  • deliver culturally relevant compelling content
  • maintain a strong understanding of regional issues

It’s a real need in the professional world and a desired attribute.

And in the numerous lists available of top soft skills required by recruiters, cross cultural communication is often up there as an essential for any role where an international aspect comes into play.

According to one survey done by Hult International Business School in 2017 which questioned 100 CEOs, Cross-Cultural Communication Skills was one the most important international business soft skills to have to be able work in an international context

And many other agencies, institutions and associations agree. Communicating across borders and understanding cultural, social and political differences is essential. The European Association of Communication Directors states on its website:

"Transnational communication is a management task of increasing importance within the everchanging European and global communities. For communicators in multinational companies, associations, institutions and politics, a global perspective is crucial in their strategic and practical work. Additionally, it is just as important to build networks across cultural, political and linguistic borders."


ISCOM’s International Specialisation – cultural sensitivity and awareness – how we teach it

Here at ISCOM we make sure that this essential soft skill is a priority and is nurtured right from the first year of study until the end of year 5, through lessons, seminars, conferences, challenges, experiences abroad…as well as having students and teachers from a wide range of different countries.

We believe that sensitizing our students to cultural differences is as important as any hard skill if they want to bloom in their personal and professional lives. Understanding others will make them better communicators and of course, better human beings.

Years 1 to 5

  • Challenges and briefs on international brands addressing specific problems in different territories
  • Conferences &seminars • Experiences abroad
  • Lessons which are detailed hereafter

Year 1

  • International Current Events & Press Reviews
  • Immersive week – Global vs local communication and cultural identity
  • Culture Days & Culture Week • General Culture • Foreign Languages
  • Soft Skills Workshops

Year 2

  • Intercultural Communications
  • International Brands
  • International Days – conferences by international professionals and academics
  • Media & Society
  • The Power of Chinese media platforms
  • International Pop Culture
  • General Culture
  • Foreign Languages
  • Soft Skills Workshops

Year 3

  • International Current Events & Press Reviews
  • International Consumer Behaviour
  • European Days
  • Intercultural Management
  • Semiology
  • Trends & Society
  • General Culture
  • Foreign Languages
  • Soft Skills Workshops

Year 4

  • Global Brands
  • International Media
  • Foreign Languages
  • Soft Skills Workshops

Year 5

  • Global Brands and Brand Culture
  • Cultural Visit & Challenge
  • Emerging Markets
  • Intercultural Communications
  • Social Media & Influence
  • Trendspotting & Analysis
  • Soft Skills Workshops