Sunday, February 22, 2009

More on the multicultural program

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, American minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, will become the majority in 2042. Furthermore, by 2030, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be 65 and older. On February 18, PRSA Puget Sound addressed the changes in culture and ethnic identity at its monthly meeting event titled: “Building relationships in a new multi-cultural world.”

Three panelists spoke to the value of multicultural outreach (L-R)
  • Steve Sneed, the Managing Artistic Director of Cultural Programs at Seattle Center
  • Lauri Jordana, founder and principal of Conexión Marketing
  • Chris Nishiwaki, Communications Director for Sound Mental Health.

What are ‘cultural communities’?
Throughout the event, panelists referred to diverse ethnic, racial and generational audiences as cultural communities. This term helps professionals understand that the multicultural discussion is not just about racial demographics, but reaches out to the diverse populations of:
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Seniors
  • People with disabilities,
  • Veterans
  • Religious sectors and
  • Many other groups that should be represented in multicultural campaigns.
Panelists urged participants to learn multicultural terminology. As communicators, it will be necessary to make sure that everyone understands what we mean when we say ‘diversity’.

Everything we’ve been taught as PR professionals applies to communities of culture.
  • Practitioners must build relationships by establishing trust.
  • When working with cultural communities, organizations and entities that want to collaborate must be willing to offer honest and open conversation.
  • Panelists encouraged participants to create and hold focus groups to listen to what people are saying; allowing the community to lead campaign efforts.
Language is important.
“So often we see companies who have put together a piece by cutting corners,” Lauri Jordana said. “They’ll know.”

Be willing to invest in professional translation to assure that your message is conveyed accurately and powerfully. There are several professional organizations that offer this service in Seattle.

Multicultural campaigns are not about ethnicity and the media outlet; they’re about the demographic and the media outlet.

Professionals must understand the demographics of a target audience and how those demographics use specific media.

“Fundamentally, the communities of color are no different from the rest of the population,” Chris Nishiwaki said. “There are publications that celebrate diverse audiences every day of the year. If you’re pitching to the ethnic press, every day is awareness month.”

Diversity comes from within. Look inward at your own personnel.

“Are your personnel representative of your clients or the audience you’re trying to reach?” Chris Nishiwaki asked. Organizations need to recognize diversity as more than just an afterthought. It should be a piece of the overall strategy.

By 2050, the minority population-everyone except for non-Hispanic, single-race whites- is projected to be 235.7 million out of a total U.S. population of 439 million. Will you be reaching them?

Blog post and photos courtesy of PRSA Puget Sound Chapter Programs Committee member, Sarah Zaenger. Check out her blog, My Experiential Learning.

Special thanks to Programs Committee member, Sheryl Wiser, pictured above with speaker, Lauri Jordana, for developing such a great program!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Communicating in a multicultural world

This morning's PRSA program on diversity challenged attendees. "Look around the room," one of the speakers said. "Let's be frank. How many people who are here would identify themselves as persons of color?"

His question was met with silence.

Which was just one indicator that such programs are needed for the Puget Sound Chapter of PRSA.

"Building Relationships in a New Multi-Cultural World" brought together African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American speakers to help communications professionals think in new ways about how to reach ethnically and racially diverse audiences.

Steve Sneed, the managing artistic director for cultural programs at Seattle Center, urged attendees to reach out, to establish trust with partners and prospective clients from other communities and language groups.

Lauri Jordana, principal at Conexion Marketing, insisted that diversity shouldn't be an afterthought. It should be a sustained commitment by professionals to reach, serve, and partner with their audiences.

Chris Nishiwaki, communications director for Sound Mental Health, reminded the audience that what they'd learned in Communications 101 applies to all communities, not just their own:

  • Build relationships;
  • Don't assume that audiences are homogenous;
  • Make multi-cultural connections every day of the year.

Program moderator, Sheryl Wiser, added that "diversity" also means more than racial, ethnic, or language difference. It includes age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and the many other differences that divide and isolate us from one another.

The themes of this morning's program deserve our careful consideration. If you were unable to attend, a podcast of the discussion will be available here soon. If you were there, it's worth listening in again.

PRSA's mission is to develop a profession that serves clients with the very best counsel and expertise. Toward that goal, we could do nothing better than to extend ourselves to build a multicultural community reflecting the richly diverse world in which we live.

Rich Murphy, PhD, APR
PRSA Puget Sound Board member

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Struggling to gain traction in this tough economy?

If you missed the PRSA Puget Sound January Program, it's not too late to learn what you missed. Thanks to a podcast by Bruce Bulloch from Open Boat Advertising, you can still hear the expert tips from our January speakers, Judy Cushman and Mark Tranter.

Take a few minutes to listen to this podcast for a frank discussion on:

* The Puget Sound PR employment environment
* Handling an impending lay-off
* How PR professionals unintentionally sabotage themselves in the interview process
* Back to the basics rules to give you an edge in a highly competitive job market
* Why you should constantly network to give yourself an edge in competitive times.

As President of Seattle-based Judith Cushman & Associates, Judy Cushman leads national search efforts ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to agencies and smaller companies. With more than 25 years in the field, she approaches each search strategically with up-front, in-depth analysis of the company, the position and the candidate profile. Ms. Cushman is a frequent workshop leader, speaking to communications groups across the country about trends affecting the profession.

Mark Tranter is a partner in CFO Selections, providing finance and accounting executive search and interim consulting services to a wide range of organizations in the West. Prior to joining CFO selections, he co-founded Human Capital Advisors to provide companies with top executive talent and help thousands of successful executives around the country with their career progression.

This may be the best 20 minutes you've spent recently!