Multi-Language Content Strategy: Analysis of the Strategy News Outlets

When thinking about content in multiple languages I inevitably think about news and newspapers and the “traditional” media companies with their radio and television offerings much more than “digital” media companies. You might say that digital media is different but I don’t think so much, at least when it comes multiple language content strategy and most are on the trajectory of becoming a “digital media company”, “digital first company”, or “mobile first media company“, just as you are becoming a thought-leader or influencers, digital publishing powerhouse or niche newsletter publisher. And more importantly, because the consumer of media, a.k.a. the recipient of information – we the human – has not changed that quickly over the last three generations. Therefore, we can learn from them a great deal, especially from those longest and in a more diversified media landscape who are still in the game today.

World Wide Media Companies

As established media company with a multilingual content strategy Deutsche Welle (DW) and BBC World Service are top of my head. While BBC World Service is seen by many as the most reliably and accurate source of information since World War 2, it is also one of the most highly in quality and in many countries unfortunately the only source of accurate and impartial news.

We will choose Deutsche Welle as their content is German and English while being a German organization, rather than the BBC World Services is an English-speaking organization. This fact should provide for more interesting insights.

It has a self-declared worldwide broadcast audience of 157 million total weekly users worldwide and offers media content in 30 languages from Albanian to Urdu:

  • 85 million TV programs
  • 36 million Radio programs
  • 36 million Digital content
having achieved a top position among international news providers
[...]
in a landscape of a growing number of competitors and journalistic programs.

The Goal is to learn what they do, learned and plan to optimize in delivering multi-lingual content.

Since DW is funded by the federal budget of the German government it is required to publish certain task planning documents. The Deutsche Welle "Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021" is also the source most referenced in this case study; you can find the PDF here.


DW Deutsche Welle

Digital Media

TV

Radio

My Recommendation

For your Multi language Content Strategy you want to differentiate your content between pictures and moving pictures videos and text and voice

and then your content delivering over social media apps according to their production difficulty


Target Audience

The target audience or target group as DW likes to call them, are global decision makers and thus more educated and international oriented.

Many of them are actively [...] and are open to different points of view. They normally have a high level of interest in information and how to classify domestic and international events; they tend to be more educated, many of them live in urban regions and are highly attracted by communications and interaction.

This is their audience persona, the person they imagine they have in front of themselves when they create content and ask themselves

  • What is my audience persona interested in?
  • Where would I meet that person?
  • How would I talk to that person if they were sitting in front of me?
  • ...

Already the second paragraph gives credit to the multi language / multilingual strategy of their target audience.

Because of regional differences, DW specifies this target group for each of its 30 language programs

[…]

This is completed on the basis of criteria like age structure, education, the different needs for information, dialogue and interaction as well as usage habits.

Even before they decide their programmatic content strategy of their target group and how to implement that content strategy.

It is only then that this content strategy gets addressed in in more detail with what they want to promote and who they want to address. Which sounds somewhat like

With a view to the importance of women in civil society and their different legal status around the world, DW will increasingly incorporate this group in its target focus in the future and, for example, include more topics in its programs, which attract particular interest from women.

But here  we don't want to analyze the content and approach of DW's content strategy, but want to learn how they use different language approaches for different or similar audiences with native and non-native language capabilities, i.e. English where English is not an official language but where content has a regional context.


Content

We'll encounter

  • Content in a foreign language English and German

Content 1 and Content 2 in a domestic language

Content 1 and Content 2 in a foreign language

Content global context Content local context
Domestic Language Topics deemed to be of importance to the population of the country/region bc of the mission of the content provider (promotion of democracy,...) Topics deemed to be of importance to the population of the country/region
English Language Global topics that could be relevant to everyone in their target audience content used to make it relevant
German Language

DW has also lots of German content that is dubbed and subbed since the mission of DW is also to educate people about Germany as place for business and vacation, and in general.