Repurposing content for international audiences: Planning is everything
Sam Willet gravatar avitar

Repurposing content for international audiences: Planning is everything

Author: Sam Willet | Posted on: 31 March 2016

International audiences

Content is powerful. It enables you to influence potential clients and partners around the world. At Ember, as a result of demand from our clients, we’re repurposing content for international audiences more often than ever. We’ve had projects which were intended to be repurposed from the outset, and projects which were only adapted retrospectively. The comparison is clear: If you plan it from the beginning, it’s much easier and more cost effective to repurpose content.

The best example to mention is our experience with Regis Media, a division of Ember Television which provides for the content needs of financial advisers. Regis Media has been an international operation from the outset, because our area of expertise, evidence-based investing, is more talked about in the US and Australia than it is here in the UK. As a result, most of our Regis Media clients are overseas. When we talk about repurposing content, you might not know where to start, so here are some things from our experience which are important to consider:

Know your audience

We always ask our clients who is going to be watching their videos and what they want to achieve. This is the first thing you should think about when producing content, and it never changes. With Regis Media, we always knew we were going to offer the Six Steps to Successful Investing series to financial advisers worldwide as a pre-produced series.

The UK version of the Six Steps to Successful Investing...

As a result, it’s been easier for us to make the alterations necessary for foreign clients. Another series, Evidence-Based Investing Insights, was originally a custom project for Independence Advisors in Pennsylvania. They’ve decided to license the videos for use by other firms, which is great, but a video planned for one client is more difficult to adapt for other clients.

...repurposed for German audiences.

The message

Businesses that operate internationally must appreciate that what is popular, funny, or even remotely acceptable in one place won’t necessarily be so in another. This can apply to marketing techniques as well as products. Have you ever watched a foreign advert and thought you were missing out on the joke? All Nippon Airways apparently wanted to show Japan becoming ‘more active and essential in the world’. Instead, their ad was derided as ‘clumsily racist’. 

The advert was labelled "clumsy racism".

Mistakes like this are few and far between, but what is more likely is that the core topic or message of your content just may not be a big deal in some places. This can be affected by cultural as well as legislative differences. The lesson here is, make sure you’ve done your research before you start.

In the writing stage, keep certain things vague…

If content is going to be adapted for an audience of a different nationality, then the script can’t be centred on one country. Be careful with:

    • Space and time - Some languages are bigger than others. German, for example, takes longer to say than English because the words are longer. It sounds basic, but don’t expect to repurpose content between languages and not have to do a certain amount of re-editing. Motion graphics videos that rely on the timing of the graphics with the voice over can be very tricky. Also, consider any text that is on the screen. Chances are that when you paste in the translated words, you’ll have to change the size of the text to avoid it overlapping or disappearing off the screen.
    • Variations within the same language - One of our clients had to tell us that Australians wouldn’t normally refer to pieces of confectionary as ‘sweets’, for example. More obviously, don’t use any sayings or phrases which could cause confusion - It’s best to avoid phrases like ‘chin-wag’ or ‘Bob’s your uncle’ when you’re trying to make your script a bit more informal.
    • Statistics - A stat from one country may not have the same impact in another. Or worse, it could be completely irrelevant.
    • Celebrities and influencers - You might want to refer to a celebrity as a way of keeping content light and accessible, but consider whether they are as famous elsewhere. Including industry leaders and commentators who may not be internationally well known is fine for educational content, but a video interview comes in handy here so that the viewer can, at least, put a face to the name.
    • Currency - You can forgive a viewer for thinking that a video isn’t aimed at them if you’re talking in pounds and pence when their wallet is full of South African Rand. This is easy to change if you display amounts of money on screen as graphics, rather than anything audible.

Of course, there are pitfalls with all content, but if you’re aiming for audiences in several countries, it becomes more complicated. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it, just take your time, think it through, and if you have any doubts about the quality, it’s better to outsource your content production. If you can plan a piece of content from the start as one which will be repurposed, you will save yourself time and money by thinking through the various considerations.


Author: Sam Willet

Sam Willet gravatar avitar
Sam is a Producer and Client Manager at Ember Television. He has worked in online media since graduating with an MA in Film and TV from the University of Birmingham, and loves a good human interest story. You can contact him at [email protected]
Repurposing content for international audiences: Planning is everything



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