What even is cross-border communication? Why is it needed?
As an agency specialized in cross-border communication, we’re often asked: What even is cross-border communication? Why is it needed? What exactly is it that you do?
In an ideal world without borders, we wouldn’t need cross-border communication. Cooperation in various countries would be possible without language barriers and culture-based misunderstandings, and everyone would simply understand what the other means. Since this isn’t so easy even in our “Europe without borders”, we had the misfortune in March 2020 of witnessing the COVID-19 pandemic not only resulting in borders suddenly closing again but also how communication between neighboring countries lead to misunderstandings and disagreement.
Yet, even in “normal” times, when Europe’s borders are open, there are various languages within our Community and not everyone speaks the language of their neighboring country well enough to communicate without difficulty.
This quickly results in an inability to communicate out of fear of saying something wrong. Or one expresses themselves to the best of their knowledge, but their counterpart only understands some of what is expressed or misses a crucial nuance.
Language isn’t the only thing that can impede communication: Networks and contacts that have long been established within a country and work very well are, across the border, suddenly disrupted, haven’t been established or maintained, or are not supported by official state structures. In a crisis situation, information goes first to national information groups, is reconciled quickly and in a coordinated fashion, but then stops at the border and only reaches contacts in the neighboring country, if at all, with a delay that can create problems.
And even if both sides speak the other’s language and endeavor to forward information quickly and across the border, people in different countries will often interpret that information from different perspectives due to their culture, history, and mentality.
Perhaps they would have expected a different approach, a different transition to the topic, communication in a different tone or by a different person. They would focus on a different aspect, evaluate it differently, or simply find it more or less important. Perhaps they are simply missing one or two bits of additional information, a location, or the neighboring country’s prior history with this matter…
This is how it is with cross-border communication.
As an agency, we strive every day on behalf of our clients to transport their messages across national and language borders without barriers and misunderstandings, and to distribute them through the channels that operate there.
All of our work is performed with diligence and creativity with regard to including all information in these messages that the people in the neighboring country could need and to considering every aspect that could be of particular interest to them.
Our Franco-German team, which must, by its nature, repeatedly overcome barriers and be persistent in communication, helps us see the different angles of the same issue, ask the right questions, and not forget the most important question of all: “Does this even interest the people in the neighboring country?”
When we can answer this question with an unequivocal “Yes”, then we commit ourselves, with all our experience and passion, to ensuring that the matter is communicated across all “boundaries” and that the message gets to where it needs to go.