In an article at CiB, the British Association of Communicators in Business, Alison Crossley of the item Group discusses how to create a successful award-winning multi-language magazine.
According to the article, the Federation of European Industrial Editors Associations (FEIEA) gave Hi! (Hydro Inside) the top award as Europe’s Best Multi-language Magazine for the second year in a row.
The publication is translated into nine languages and distributed to 36,000 employees around the world. It is produced by item Group, an internal communications agency that manages, writes and designs print and online publications for client companies.
Crossley gives the following ten tips on how to produce a magazine that works in several different languages:
1. Keep in mind that some translations result in longer articles. Consider this when writing the original articles and come up with a publication design that will accommodate this without adding extra pages.
2. Have someone in the organization in each country check the translations. Send him or her the Word document to amend first and then send back the corrected article as a PDF file for a final check.
3. Build relationships between translators and target countries to smoothen the process. Make sure the translator has a contact in the target country to phone or email for queries.
4. Do not forget to send the final versions to the translators so that they have something to build on for future issues.
5. Content planning should involve country communicators from the start. This will build ownership of the publication.
6. To ensure that each country appears in the publication within the year, develop a matrix of country contributors, subject matter, specific article and issue.
7. Keep in mind that you are writing for a global audience. Avoid humor and colloquialisms because these do not translate well.
8. Agree on a style appropriate to your company and stay with it. There is no need to translate all figures into all currencies.
9. Build friendships with colleagues in every country so that you recognize those who meet deadlines and those who need to be reminded.
10. Multi-language magazines cannot contain hard news. They require long lead times to accommodate writing, approval and design in the primary language and subsequent translations. They then reach all readers in various countries at the same time. Use feature stories and schedule the work precisely to avoid rework by translators and version confusion.
It’s a tough job but I’m sure it’s many times more fulfilling than the traditional publication.