The current reality of marketing is cross-cultural communications. We exist across boundaries of time and space–not in some theoretical aspect, but simply due to having technology that allows us to communicate globally with ease. We also work, fundraise, organize, find community and products from all over, often without a second thought to how many forms and habits of communication we’re encountering apart from our own.
What does that mean for communicating well, without causing any PR nightmares, and in a way that resonates with your audience? Self-reflexivity becomes an absolute necessity.
What is self-reflexivity? The term originated in academia, but has a lot of application outside of it as well. From figuring out brand positioning, content strategy, to how to train your staff to represent your organization well, making self-reflexivity central to your processes can help you not only avoid any “foot-in-mouth” incidents, but also helps you communicate to your audience to connect in a real and lasting way.
To sum it up, self-reflexivity is comprised of two parts: recognition of differences, and exploration of your audience’s beliefs.
The first is pretty simple, and is applicable in personal and professional lives–not everyone communicates how we do. Think of a family member or coworker (we all have this experience) with whom you don’t get along with easily or naturally. How much of the various arguments and friction comes down to having differing viewpoints on core beliefs and/or different communication styles? A lot of it, right? There’s no one specific way to communicate that is better than another. We all have our ingrained habits that guide how we connect with each other, as well as with organizations and brands.
The second aspect, exploration of your audience’s beliefs, is a bit trickier. For this you’ll need someone with an ability to gather data on your audience’s beliefs via survey, analytics, interviews, and research into already established cultural norms which then needs to be applied to a strategy. This part of self-reflexivity takes a lot of background knowledge, patience, and willingness to empathize outside of one’s comfort zone. Without those skills you risk introducing hidden bias into your communications plan, or missing a major component of what will gain and keep your audience’s attention and interest.
Which is where Quince Communications can work for you. We help you determine and gather the data on who your audience is and how they communicate, finding out where you’re making connections already and where there’s space to grow. We analyze that data, looking for what is working and what could be changed or updated, then formulate a plan to move your organization forward.
Every organization wants to be able to communicate effectively with their core audiences. In today’s world that includes a lot of complexity and careful planning. But you don’t have to feel overwhelmed or under-prepared to reach out and make those connections. We’re here to help.
If you’d like to read a more academic take on self-reflexivity which outlines some of its foundational practices in academia, this article is a pretty thorough look.
Photo courtesy of Brendan Church via Unsplash.