What happens when we are trying to communicate with people who live in another place with a distinctively different culture? Do they do things differently there? How can we be sensitive to these differences?

As communicators, we are attuned to the audience we want to reach. But still we are grounded in the people around us, to where we work and live. It’s hard not to have our approach shaped by “the way we do things around here.” In other words, the local culture. It’s what we’re exposed to each and every day. So we don’t challenge or think about whether it is the best way of doing things.

On this week’s episode of the Inside PR podcast, we explore these questions with two guests who have lived and worked on both sides of the Atlantic.

Suzy Chisholm is head of communications at Philips Switzerland. A transplanted Canadian, she has spent over twenty years living and working in Switzerland, a country at the heart of Europe and a country with three languages.

Sherrilynne Starkie has worked in Washington, London, the Isle of Man and now in Canada.

Both Suzy and Sherrilynne offer their perceptions and insights into the challenges of communicating in different cultures. And then Martin, Gini and I weigh in with our own thoughts.

We hope that this discussion opens some windows onto the different experiences and approaches people may have working as communicators around the world.

What is your experience? Have you had direct experience of the differences driven by culture and language? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

And we have a favor to ask: if you like this podcast, please rate us on iTunes.


Thank you to the people behind Inside PR.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.



  1. Mia

    Thanks to the Internet we can communicate our message to the world in a matter of mere seconds. Perhaps the speed with which the digital age is pulling us has made us forget the essentials when it comes to communicating.

    We heard in this post that when we are working in a global team, cultural differences could be complex and sometimes contradictory. Small details make us forget that we are communicating with a unique human being with different origins.

    What surprises me the most since living in Canada for almost 2 years is that countries like Canada with a high percentage of migrants and with cities where over 100 languages ​​are spoken, seem to be limited only to promote tolerance and to treat people from different cultures fairly. The true meaning of appreciating diversity is to recognize and accept the differences with respect and gratitude while collaborating together to actively promote a balance of interests and results for society.

    We should not forget that professionals like us with direct access to media help to reduce uncertainty and anxiety about the intercultural encounter. Accepting that communication should be as diverse as the group to be targeted will be key to guarantee success in almost any environment. (Marketing, Advertising and PR).

    P.S. Thank you guys I really enjoy every episode.

  2. thornley Author

    Mia, your comment is a valuable prompt to people like me to not fall into the trap of viewing diversity as an objective to be achieved, but instead as a powerful advantage to be embraced. Thank you for commenting. And I’m glad that you enjoy the podcast. Our greatest satisfaction is knowing that people enjoy and value it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.