International Translation Day: Why global communication is more important than ever in 2020

Wednesday September 30, 2020 - Posted by:

September 30th marks International Translation Day, a United Nations event that celebrates the important work of language professionals across the globe. As the UN itself points out, the experts all over the world who specialise in working with languages every day – from interpreters and translators to terminologists and verbatim reporters – have a key role to play in facilitating international conversation, strengthening understanding and “bringing nations together”.

In our modern era of digital business and electronic communications, the work of language professionals has taken on a new dimension. For today’s international brands, there is huge value to be gained from services like translation and localisation to achieve high levels of quality and effectiveness in digital content.

This could prove more significant than ever against the backdrop of a global health crisis, when companies need to think very carefully about how they maintain and nurture their customer relationships.

International Translation Day 2020 – the wider significance

International Translation Day falls on September 30th to mark the feast of the Bible translator St Jerome, who is considered the patron saint of translators.

It was established in May 2017 with the adoption by the UN General Assembly of resolution 71/288, which recognised the role of language professionals in “connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development”.

The theme of this year’s event, according to the International Federation of Translators (FIT), will be ‘Finding the words for a world in crisis’. As countries across the globe grapple with the enormous effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the language services profession has had to evolve rapidly to “keep up with changing realities and expectations”, the FIT said.

For businesses, this health crisis has further emphasised the importance of being able to maintain healthy, accurate communications with your customers at all times, whatever language you’re using.

The global reach and flexibility provided by digital channels like social media give you the opportunity to maintain regular engagement with your customers, but when you’re dealing with international audiences, you have to be sure the content you’re distributing is relevant and reflects the unique demands of the current climate.

At a time of great unease and anxiety for many people around the world, business communications need to be carefully tailored to strike the right tone.

The communication challenge

Maintaining relationships with customers is an area where many companies have struggled during the Covid-19 crisis, research has suggested.

Corporate software provider Pegasystems commissioned research firm Savanta to conduct an international study into businesses’ ability to adapt in times of crisis, which exposed some of the deficiencies that are holding many firms back.

More than a third (36%) of respondents said they have lost customers during the pandemic because of communication failings. A similar number (37%) said they had sent at least one message that was badly received by their audience and damaged their brand reputation.

The majority (54%) of companies agreed they should have done more to support their customers during the crisis.

Don Schuerman, chief technical officer and vice-president of product marketing at Pegasystems, commented: “Organisations are beginning to wake up to the fact that ineffective communication with their customers in uncertain times can do them serious damage.”

Businesses that operate across borders – or have ambitions to do so – should give careful consideration to how their messaging will be pitched and perceived in target markets.

Translation in the digital world

With more than 4.5 billion internet users worldwide – over half (52%) of whom are in Asia – and 3.6 billion people using social media alone, there are countless opportunities to build your brand, engage with your audience and develop relationships in the digital space.

But to take full advantage of this potential, you need to ensure the content and communication techniques you’re using to connect with customers are up to the right standard.

When you’re targeting audiences in foreign markets, there is a lot of value to be gained from the translation and localisation of your web content. This helps to ensure that, when people visit your website to find out more about you or browse through your products or services, they enjoy a positive user experience and don’t feel alienated by awkward language or cultural references that make no sense to them.

All modern businesses should also have a clear strategy for social media marketing – an approach that can help you gain maximum advantage from the enormous reach and power of your chosen social channels.

If you have global ambitions, but you haven’t given much thought to the key role of language and tailored communications in your plans, International Translation Day 2020 could be the time to do so.

Contact Locaria to start a conversation or download one of our guides here.


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