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!

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