Writing for an international audience

People who write for an international audience need to be particularly careful about who will be reading their messages and where those people are located.

I’m often frustrated by emails that promote interesting workshops and events, but fail to clearly state where those events will be held. Typically, they’re in a different part of the world from me.

I subscribe to several email lists, and all of them promote events for their members. And most of the people who promote these events forget that the lists’ members are truly international. If an event is being advertised, I need to know about its geographical location first – before I care about whether the topic is interesting. Because, no matter how interesting the promoted two-hour workshop may be, I’m not going to travel for 24 hours to reach it!

Here are two examples that I received today:

  • I am pleased to invite you to join your peers in pursuing IABC accreditation at the Executive Accreditation Seminar (EAS) at Royal Roads University, 30 September – 5 October, 2012. (This is from the International Association of Business Communicators. I wonder where Royal Roads University is? Certainly not local to me!)
  • Early bird registration for IHPRC 2012 at £225/delegate is available until Monday April 30 only. (I think this is from a PR-educators’ mailing list, but I’m not completely sure. I read on to discover that the event is being held in Bournemouth.)

For many messages distributed on email lists, geography isn’t relevant at all. But when it is relevant – particularly when it’s critical to whether a reader will be interested in attending – it makes sense to put it first. Location is part of the lead, not part of the detailed information that is usually put at the bottom of the message.