INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MEDIA: THE ’CORPORATE NATION’ AND HOW TO CONQUER IT. Belinda Archer examines the media catering for busy international business people who need information about their destinations

’If it’s Tuesday it must be Dusseldorf. Or should that be San Diego? Barcelona even, or was that last month?’

’If it’s Tuesday it must be Dusseldorf. Or should that be San

Diego? Barcelona even, or was that last month?’



This is what it’s like for the international business person, jetsetting

around the globe attending conferences and meetings. And for all that is

seen of the far-flung destinations, these conferences might as well be

at the Trust House Forte in West Hartlepool.



Tom Knox, the deputy managing director of Delaney Fletcher Bozell, calls

this group the ’corporate nation’. He explains: ’These men and women are

defined by the job or work they do, rather than by their

nationality.



They are loyal to a logo rather than a flag.



They are also united by a common language, which is English, a common

creed - market capitalism - and a common experience, namely working for

a multinational.’



Travel, in fact, is one of the few things that unites this rather

disparate breed, who spend around a quarter of their lives either in

transit or abroad. Andy Hopkinson, the worldwide account director at

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for ICI Paints and the International Wool

Secretariat, sums up the life of the international businessman. ’There

is no average day or week, but I would say that around 25 per cent of my

time is spent away from the office. I’m packing my brief-case for Hong

Kong and I’ve no idea what to put in. It really is life on the hoof, but

the motto is that when you go away, you make the most of it, and you

have two things on your mind - to get there as prepared as possible, and

to not waste your journey time,’ he says.



These two factors have a direct impact on the globetrotting employee’s

media habits and needs, which are necessarily different from those of

the average UK businessperson who sits at the same desk most of the

time.



First, he or she must prepare for the trip - finding out about the

regional and corporate culture. Second, because he or she spends so much

time flying, the time in the air is more likely to be spent consuming

chunks of business media than just watching the in-flight movie.



Over the past ten years, however, these basic media needs have

changed.



The dramatic advances in technology, combined with the increasing

globalisation of business have, inevitably, altered the lifestyle and

demands of the busi-ness traveller.



Paul Maglione, the vice-president of marketing for CNN International,

explains: ’Over the past decade businessmen’s schedules have become far

more crowded in terms of the stimuli they are receiving. They now have

e-mail, fax, voice-mail and mobile phones, which all mean there are

fewer buffers between them and outside demands on their attention. They

are now bombarded by messages, so their attention spans have become

shorter.’



This has meant the international businessperson is now far more

demanding of the media that serve him or her. They have less time or

inclination to sit and watch TV or listen to the radio, or plough

through pages of prose until they find something relevant to them.

Whether they are travelling or in their office, they want to know what

they can get and they want it straightaway.



Tightly defined niche media that, say, deliver news around the clock, or

specialise in providing business data, have benefited from this

development. While multinational companies are embracing global

strategies and deals more and more, they have also realised that

localisation and regionalisation are still important.



Businesses are run now as ’glocal’ operations - that is, with global

strategies that are executed regionally.



Despite the advances in technology over the past ten years and the

creed, think global, act local, shifting around the world for

face-to-faces has increased dramatically, with video conferencing and

teleworking yet to make a real impact. Latest industry estimates suggest

that those employees going on three or more business trips a year has

increased by 70 per cent over the past decade, while those doing six or

more trips a year has increased by 100 per cent.



This increase in travel means that there is, arguably, more time in

which to be targeted by the media and these travellers have developed a

greater thirst than before for genuinely informed commentary about the

different markets and countries they visit.



Hopkinson explains: ’An international business person needs to be truly

international. In the past he could be a little bit imperialistic,

arriving in a country from his home or the company’s mother country,

making his presentation or whatever and disappearing. But now he has to

be more appreciative of the socio-economic and political forces of the

place he is visiting.’



Such a development has affected the media. Knox, whose agency, Delaney

Fletcher, landed the Financial Times’s advertising business earlier this

year, comments: ’Ten years ago, people were quite wide-eyed about

pan-regional media or global media and they were optimistic about media

becoming global. However, even today there are not that many media buys

that are truly global. While communication is still bound up with idiom

and local cult-ural customs, making international campaigns difficult,

media is too.’



Indeed, most of the media serving the international business market have

geographical weaknesses. The FT, for example, has Europe sewn up but

lacks real strength in the US, while the Wall Street Journal has the US

sewn up and needs a stronger presence on the Continent. The

International Herald Tribune is also primarily a read for the ex-pat

American in Europe.



CNN is one of the very few truly global media, but it is often not rated

as a real power medium and many Euro-pean advertisers are sceptical

about it actually being watched. There are also various affiliations of

clubbed print media supposedly offering coverage of the globe, but it is

still hard to reach international business people in one go via these

link-ups. The only truly powerful worldwide medium is the Internet

which, although it is developing very fast, is still in its relative

infancy in the minds of many market-ing directors.



Despite the difficulties of reaching this particular consumer in one

fell swoop, the international businessman and woman remains a highly

attractive proposition for advertisers, whether they be marketers of

luxury goods or business-related products. These people tend to have a

high disposable income and not enough time to spend it. What better time

is there to appeal to this captive market, than when they are 30,000

feet up in a plane?



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