Can we translate this press release into Japanese? Why is this translation from English to German so difficult? Do we need to translate the CEO’s speech into Portugese? How can we distribute this message in French, Spanish, English, Chinese and…?
As Communicators in today’s global environment, we know it’s often times not enough to craft our messages or to reach out to our employees, customers and investors in just one language.
With more companies looking to expand their global footprint and to offer their products and services to a wider circle of consumers and with key talent being sourced from around the world, our communications with coworkers, customers and other key stakeholders are becoming increasingly multilingual.
Most of our members are embracing this growing need to be multilingual in communications. However, this admittedly doesn’t come without headaches. We want our messages to be accessible to employees in other countries, to customers in other markets, and to various stakeholders that come across our content when they’re surfing the web. Yet whether it’s writing a press release in Portugese to annouce a recent acquisition in Brazil or producing materials in Mandarin for a product launch in China, Communications teams still worry about the quality of the translation, the cost of translating, the timing of the communications and even what material actually NEEDS to be translated.
With companies looking at potential global and cultural expansion, questions arise around translation capabilities, language policies and vendors as teams look to gain access to broader multilingual communications capabilities.
One of your peers recently asked a question on the Employee Communications Forum about this issue: “When working in a global organization with multiple languages, do you have a language policy that prevails? Do you provide employees with access to an automatic translation tool?”
Here are some helpful answers and insights from your peers:
- “We’ve had to think about how we communicate with our employees and our customers in other countries (when English isn’t their first language). We’re currently getting agreement on governance that would automatically translate a group of five core languages for all ‘global’ messages.”
- “We do use an automatic translation tool, but employees don’t have direct access to it right now. It’s managed through a team; project owners submit requests and the content is translated then reviewed by in country, local speakers for accuracy.”
- “We have offices in about 30 countries and our official language is English. If needed, local Communicators translate communications into other languages.”
- “[Our] group also operates with English as corporate language besides 4 other languages that we call our main local languages.”
- “In our company, even translations done by a professional agency are always reviewed by an internal native speaker to ensure the message is right.”
A lot of the answers above speak to tailoring messages and ensuring the message is accurate and timely when it is translated. While it’s tempting, we can’t just input a message into Google Translate and assume the translation will come out with exactly what we’re trying to say.
As we think about producing more multilingual messages, one tip from CEC is to understand when our audiences will be most receptive to these carefully crafted communications and how to reduce message overload.
Our resource center on Tailoring Messages for Local Audiences can help you tailor the tone, content and language of messages based on the values of local audiences.
How has your team approached the need to communicate in multiple languages? Would you be interested in a networking opportunity with your peers around this topic? If so, please reach out to Jascott@executiveboard.com to learn more about this opportunity.
CEC Related Resources
CEC Related Blogs