5 Steps to Effectively Communicate with a Diverse Audience

In today’s society, PR practitioners must know how to communicate with a diverse audience due to the wide variety of ethnicities in the United States. According to the 2010 Census, non-Hispanic white ­­­­­remains as the largest ethnic group in America; however, it continues as the slowest growing ethnicity. Due to higher immigration rates, Hispanic and Asian ethnicities continue to grow rapidly. Both the Asian and Hispanic populations increased by 43 percent each between 2000 and 2010. As our nation’s population rapidly becomes more diverse, we need to have a clear understanding of them to effectively communicate. This understanding includes their languages, customs, religions, etiquette, cultural values, and traditions. Below I have listed the five steps to effectively communicate with a diverse audience.

1. Identify Your Audience

First, you need to do your homework. You must understand your audience before you can communicate with them.  You need to know whom exactly you will target. Finding the demographics and psychographics of your audience will provide some insight as to what you need to research to properly approach them.

2. Understand Your Audience

Once you identify your audience, you will need to do some research on their cultural backgrounds. A deep understanding of the audience’s culture will help you know how to approach them. Cultures vary drastically and you could easily accidentally offend someone because you didn’t research their cultural values. Honda provides an example of a mistake like this. The introduction of Honda’s new car the “Fitta,” introduced to the Nordic countries in 2001, offended many. The car was introduced not knowing the meaning of the word “fitta,” an old vulgar word in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, referred to a woman’s genitals. Needless to say, Honda renamed the car immediately. A little research could have easily prevented this mistake that offended their market.  Sites such as Geert-Hoftede and Kwintessential can help you to do this research easily. These sites provide great insight and make research a quick and simple process.

3. Engage and Interact With Your Audience

While communicating with an audience you must have them interact with you to ensure you both get the most out of the experience. When discussing various topics, ask the audience for their opinions or suggestions. Most likely they will provide you with helpful insight you may have not thought of.  Creating this positive and open environment can provide challenges when discussing controversial issues. To help engage with the audience, ask them for recommendations or ideas on how you can improve your arguments. This will help to lighten the topic and allow them to think critically along with you, while contributing to the discussion. Give them a sense of importance.

4. Listen Carefully

If audience members provide you with feedback, you need to really listen to what they have to say. You cannot give insightful feedback if you think of your response while they speak because you cannot listen to their entire argument while thinking of your own.

5. Take Your Time

As Kerry Patterson addressed in her article, “Bridging the communication gap: How to reach a shared understanding with diverse audiences,” take your time when responding to feedback to show respect to your audience. Many cultures consider it immature and rude to respond quickly to a suggestion. People want to feel important when they provide feedback so remember to consider thoughtfully each suggestion before responding. Listen to what they have to say, take a moment to think about it, then respond. They will notice if you do this properly because you will respond with information they just told you, showing them you care about what they have to say and really consider their thoughts. Pay attention to the way to word an argument when you respond. If you disagree, make sure to state your opinion gently so the audience does not feel attacked or degraded. You want to come to a mutual understanding and gain insight, not simply win the argument. This contributes to the respectful environment you strive to create that allows for the audience to feel comfortable in engaging with the speaker. 

Raising Breast Cancer Awareness in the United Arab Emirates

Mai Abdul Wahed Al Khaja and Pam Creedon conducted a study in 2009 regarding awareness of breast cancer in the United Arab Emirates and the concerns women may have. In this post I will summarize an academic study showing the campaign methods used and discussing the results. I chose the following article summarize:

Al Khaja, M. A.W., & Creedon, P. (2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of the first breast cancer awareness campaign in the United Arab Emirates: Lessons learned and next steps. Public Relations Review, 36(4), (386-388. doi:10.1016/jpubrev.2010.06.005

The scholars performed research due to the high rate of advanced breast cancer diagnoses, of which approximately 80 percent are incurable. The goal of the study was to look at a past campaign addressing the issue and measure effectiveness of the methods used. The research was intended to make campaigns more effective in the future, decreasing the breast cancer mortality rate in the Middle East.

Research

The scholars began by interviewing the hospital’s doctors, nurses, managers, public relations officers, and any other personnel involved in the campaign. There was not a specific number given of how many participants were interviewed. Only personnel behind the campaign took part in this process. This group also approved the questionnaire given to the public.  

The hospital then conducted a pre-tested survey in 2009 from June 27 to July 28. During that period of time 500, women were surveyed who lived in the Al-Ain area, which is a city in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the UAE. The women surveyed consisted mostly of ages 20 to 29 years old. Of these women 75 percent had university experience and nearly half of the total respondents were employed. All respondents were selected with assistance from the Tawam and Johns Hopkins staff.

Results

The research showed that 94 percent of respondents said media is the most effective way of communicating the danger of breast cancer. Women wanted to learn about breast cancer. They felt as if it was most important to communicate the need for yearly breast examinations, although less than 10 percent felt mammograms and self-examinations were important. The indicated they wanted to be informed about breast cancer through television commercials, government television programs, and radio and television commercials. In order to do this properly it was essential to understand their cultural values. For example, the study showed that women fear their husband would leave them if they had breast cancer. Also, mammograms and treatment are not available economically for many women.

However, the survey showed that 71.9 percent of respondents felt that the existing breast cancer awareness campaign did not hold their interest. When prompted for suggestions 48 percent of respondents suggested increased messages through mobile phones, radio and television. Another suggestion made only by 30 of the 500 respondents was to communicate with men about breast cancer so it would be more openly discussed within families. It was noted that many women feared that their husbands would divorce them if they had breast cancer.

Research is the most critical aspect of a public relations campaign, especially for international campaigns. This study demonstrated that without a cultural understanding of the audience, it is impossible to communicate a message effectively.

How to Ghost Blog in an Ethical Way


Ghost blogging is a controversial issue in the public relations community right now. Many public relations practitioners are questioning whether it is ethical to blog for an organization’s top executive under that executive’s name. I believe, if they meet certain criteria, although it is not ideal, it is ethical for corporate blogs.

Where Kanye West Went Wrong.

Many celebrities will use ghost bloggers to keep their fans connected because they are simply too busy to update their blog. Unfortunately, Kanye West tried this and provided a great example for us, showing how ghost blogging can go wrong. According to a Music World post by Jason Gregory Kanye West was accused of having a ghost blogger help him by writing 10 blog posts a day. Fans began to wonder how the busy music artist could possibly have the time to blog as much as he did while juggling his personal and professional life. Well, they knew chances are he didn’t.  The reason people were upset with this situation was because West did not follow the criteria below and disclose to his fans that he was not writing all the posts. In fact, he tried to counter the rumors by posting photos of himself blogging to persuade his followers it really was him posting. Well, Kanye, consider this a lesson learned and read on to learn proper ghost blogging methods to prevent this issue from recurring.

So How Can I Ghost Blog Ethically?

In today’s society, with the fast pace of the workplace, executives have busy schedules and do not always have extra time to write a blog post. If an executive is providing the content for the blog post, as well as approving each draft before it is posted, I think it is okay for executives to outsource writing the post. This way, it is still all of the executive’s own ideas; they are just not taking the time to write out the post on their own. Additionally, once the post is written the executive must approve it before it is posted for the public to see. This ensures the information is correct and the executive is comfortable with posting the content.

Todd Defren made a great point when he addressed this issue in his blog, “PR-Squared.” Defren compared ghost blogging to drafting a company newsletter. A newsletter is similar in the sense that all the content comes from the executive, but another employee writes it. Still, the final draft would need to be approved, just as a blog would be. How is this a different situation? Well, I don’t think it is! As long as these criteria are met, I believe it is ethical.

Don’t Forget Disclosure is Key!

These specifications discussed also adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics. While ghost blogging, it is vital to remember to “be honest and accurate in all communications.” 

Brand Thinking is a Reputation


A brand is a reputation that is essential to the connection between a company’s products and its customers. It is what makes a consumer desire a product; brands make them feel as if they can have that product, they will be seen as living that lifestyle that brand evokes. It no longer is just the product they are buying, it is the reputation. A brand makes a statement, it is an attitude and it evokes emotion. A brand is a way of life. It is the heart of a company.

Importance of Brands

In Scott Bedubury’s book A New Brand World he discusses brands and their importance. He says, “if you understand your brand- its values, its mission, its reason for being- and integrate it consistently into everything you do, your entire organization will know how to behave in virtually any and all situations. Behavior and quality, over time, build trust. Advertising, if it is any good, should help to confirm what already is, not what should be.” (Bedbury XIV) He continues by discussing how Starbucks lives by its brand by hiring employees who behave the way its brand is portrayed. Starbucks understands its brand and ensures that its employees live by the standards of its brand to build trust and loyalty with its customers through great customer service and community involvement. Starbucks’ brand is so strong because they live by their brand. Starbucks employees and products represent Starbucks’ brand.

In Seth Godin’s book Free Prize Inside he writes, “Smart marketers started to flee-running from expensive mass media-as soon as they realized that building a brand using interruption media (advertising) is a loser’s game, and now they’re searching for something else.” (Godin 4) Companies are realizing the importance of building a brand based on consumer qualities. They are connecting with their customers by speaking to them, providing them with products that match their beliefs. As Bedbury said, “There is and will continue to be increasing pressure on corporations, especially the large ones, to behave more responsibly as citizens.” (Bedbury XV) When a consumer orders a cup of coffee at Starbucks, they are not just there for the coffee. They want the reputation. They want the lifestyle.

What Brand Thinking is Used For

A brand is used to identify ideas. It establishes a relationship with consumers and gets people to act on the brand by evoking emotion in the consumer and creating the feeling of desire or connection. A brand determines who a company’s customers are going to be. One of my favorite examples of an excellent brand is Harley-Davidson Motor Company. When I think of Harley-Davidson I think of an all American tough guy. I think freedom, rebellion, individuality, and pride. These buzz words are not the same that come to mind when I see a competitors’ labels. When I hear Harley-Davidson, it evokes emotion. The truth is, there is not a big product differentiation between a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and competitors, such as Honda or Kawasaki. However, Harley-Davidson motorcycles look different and they sound different, they are more identifiable. Ironically, because their brand is so strong, competing companies are now trying to make motorcycles imitating Harley-Davidson, but it still remains, consumers don’t want a product that looks or sounds like a Harley; they want a real Harley.

My dad always jokes about how you never see anyone with a Kawasaki tattoo, but constantly see motorcycle riders with a Harley-Davidson tattoo. This is because they have developed a strong brand. When a consumer hears the name Harley or sees the logo, like me, they associate the company with words that represent their brand. For many motorcycle riders, it is a lifestyle, and Harley-Davidson understands that. They create products that cater to their brand. On the Harley-Davidson website, they have images with captions saying things like, “Build your bike. Build your freedom,” and “It’s your life. Don’t just go along for the ride.” They are creating their brand by showing consumers it’s about them. It’s about their freedom and their life; they create a sense of luxury. Harley-Davidson is just a product that helps them fulfill that desired lifestyle. One of their captions says, “Leave well-enough behind,” implying to viewers that it is time to stop messing around with the competitors and time to buy the real deal. Their bike shouldn’t just be “good enough,” it should be excellent. They make them feel like they deserve a Harley. Harley-Davidson’s vision supports their brand, they say, “We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing extraordinary motorcycles and customer experiences. We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality.” (Harley-Davidson Motor Company) Harley-Davidson’s brand is catering to the consumer and their passion for riding.

Importance of Building Brand Thinking in a Career

Building a brand is important in building a career, because your brand is your reputation. As you establish your career, you create a personal brand. You need to decide who you want to be and live your brand as your lifestyle. We have all grown up establishing and refining our own brands all our life. As we get older, our brands change with us, as it would with a company. Bedbury said, “The best brands never start out with the intent of building a great brand. They focus on building a great- and profitable- product or service and an organization that can sustain it.” (Bedbury 11) As we get older, we do just this. We understand this is why it is important to always do good work. We are creating our own reputation by the lifestyle we live. Brand thinking should always be in the back of our minds, pushing ourselves to do our best in order to be improving our own brands.

Importance of Brand Thinking for Agencies

Brand thinking is essential in agencies for the success of their clients. They are using innovative ways to create their brands through entertaining mediums. In the book The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi, she discusses how agencies and marketers have experimented with different methods of portraying their brand messages through forms of entertaining content. She discusses how BMW created BMW films in which they portray their brand message through entertaining short films. She says, “The agency created a brand bridge with the look and feel of the show’s titles and with interstitial content and commercial, print and web tie-ins.” (Iezzi 149) This is just an example of how agencies are becoming more creative with their methods of branding. As Godin said, “What we’ve learned is this: In an era of too much noise and too much clutter and too many choices and too many channels and too much spam, you can’t make a good living by interrupting people over and over.” (Godin 4) The key is finding mediums in which the viewers become interested in the content, making them want to engage, not just be fed an ordinary advertisement for a product.

Importance of Brand Thinking for Brands

In John Germeza’s presentation on “The Post-crisis Consumer”, he discusses the importance of employees in strong brands, he says, “creating an environment, allowing their employees to be part of the process rather than hidden behind walls, you see this rising force and sort of total transparency and openness that companies are starting to adopt all because the consumer is demanding it.” (Germeza) Brand thinking is vital for brands because it connects the customer to the company. If brands create this personal relationship with their consumers, it becomes a part of the consumer’s lifestyle. As Bedbury discussed, “All the money in the world can’t buy you love or trust. You have to earn trust and love by how you behave over time.” (Bedbury XIV)

 

Endnotes

Bedbury, Scott. A New Brand World. New York City: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.

Godin, Seth. Free Prize Inside. New York City: Penguin Group, 2004. Print.

"Harley-Davidson Motor Company." 2001. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www.harley-

davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/home.html>.

Iezzi, Teressa. The Idea Writers. New York City: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010. Print.

"The post-crisis consumer." Photograph. TED, Ideas Worth Spreading. John Gerzema.

2009. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www.ted.com/talks/john_gerzema_the_post_crisis_consumer.html>.

26. My Website

Here is the link to my website where you can find my resume, portfolio and a little bit more about me! 

http://www.nsjjohnson.com/

25. Appreciate Your Elders

This is my grandmother Georgette Gence, but we call her Mama Louis. She is 99 years old and lives with my mom back at home in Washington. I absolutely adore her and feel so blessed to have such a remarkable woman in my life. She is by far the wisest woman I know and is full of wonderful stories. Because my family is scattered around the world, as we are approaching her 100th birthday party this summer I decided to start making a documentary on my grandmother to share with my family so that everyone can have a special part of her with them.

As I began interviewing her I continually learned about more and more amazing stories about a woman who I have lived with for the past 7 years and had no idea about these incredible experiences because we were too caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle. I am so pleased to have these stories recorded so that I can cherish them forever. This experience reminded me of the appreciation of slowing down and taking the time to really observe and learn about your surroundings. Most importantly to appreciate your elders. They are so wise and interesting, it is so important to learn from them. They have so much to share.

It is so special to have 3 generations of women in 1 household, and although not everyone may be as blessed to have this wonderful experience, I encourage everyone to get to know someone in their family on a deeper level and learn about where they came from.

24. Will Interactive Media Become A Regular Part of the Shopping Experience?

Embodee is a new company in Portland, OR that is attempting to use interactive media to change the consumer’s shopping experience. The company is currently working only with Nike Team Sports and Hurley to allow their customers to see what the garments would look like on their body without even trying it on. An example of this process can be shown on this video. While I think this is a brilliant idea I wonder if this is something that will really take off in the industry. I can see there being issues with the technology, especially with accuracy. As a consumer, when I buy clothing I take numerous variables into consideration. I personally like to try a garment on before I buy it, not only for the fit, but also to see how it feels on my skin, how the color looks on me, the texture of the fabric, etc.. These are all features in which the screen on a computer can not always accurately portray. However, these are already risks consumers take when buying a product online, so maybe this program will be an added benefit and reduce the amount of returns due to sizing issues. Personally I don’t think technology will ever be as efficient as trying a product on.

23. Expose Yourself to Different Cultures

Although this man be a bit over the top, I believe that the things that are different about people are what make them beautiful and interesting. While I was visiting my brother in NYC I was reminded of just how diverse our country really is. Being at school in Eugene, I am not exposed to much diversity on a daily basis, but trips like this one open my eyes and remind me that there is so much more to the world. Even just riding on the subway you hear so many different languages being spoken all in the same country. Our country is such a melting pot, but what is so cool about that is we get the opportunity to learn about each other and other cultures, activities and traditions.

I try to expose myself to as much as I can in life. As I gradually learn about other cultures I am continuously reminded of just how much cultural variation exists and the true beauty of this. I love to learn about the unusual habits and traditions people have because I know it has deeper meaning.

I am of French heritage and one of my favorite things is celebrating French holidays and traditions with my grandmother because of the joy it brings her. Because we have shared these traditions together, they now hold a special place in my heart and will now be a part of my own families traditions when I eventually have my own family.

I find great inspiration from learning about other people, cultures and traditions. Everyone is different and has a story to tell, open your ears and listen. Most of the time you will find you are pleasantly surprised.

22. Let Go. Let Yourself Create!

I have found that I do my best work when I am most relaxed. If I try to think about it too much, it just doesn’t work! When I start my creative process I usually curl up on my love seat in my bedroom, light a candle, turn on Pandora, and let my self just think. I like to sketch out my ideas, usually drawing several different options, then throwing them out. Sometimes I find that when I am in need of a little inspiration, looking through photography and art online helps me to channel my own imagination and create something beautiful. 

Once I am inspired and create a sketch I like, I then begin all the detail work. This is what sets me apart. I obsess with details! It could take me 3 hours to do an assignment that only takes other classmates 1 hour because I obsess over little details. To me, little details are what makes something great in to something spectacular! I notice and appreciate little details in life so I try to always incorporate these little details in to my work as well.

21. Is Life a Game?

After watching this video I can’t help but wonder is life itself a game? Are we all just pieces to this massive complex game, going through life one step at a time, completing each level, then moving to the next. Is school, job promotions, marriage, etc. just another level? We seem to always be competing with our peers to get the best grades, get the best job, be the most successful etc. There will always be someone there pushing you to do better, to be better. Is this all just incentive for us to make it through the game? 

Competition is used all the time in our lives, all the way from the day we were born until the day we die. The question is, does competition make us better? Does working harder to do better than the person next to you benefit you? And more importantly does this cycle ever end or do we always just continue to strive to be the best? 

21. Is Life A Game?

(Source: youtube.com)

20. InMobi Mobile Media Rich Advertising

In my interactive media class we had a guest speaker over Skype, Joey Mucha with InMobi. He discussed the new upcoming “High Impact Mobile Rich Media.” These are mobile ads that are more interactive and less disruptive. Instead of having the banner ad remove the user from their page completely, the mobile rich banner ad keeps them on their page but expands the ad and provides interactive material for the user. Examples of these ads can be seen on this site. Some features on these banner ads include listening to clips of music, playing games, viewing photos, etc. My favorite is the Transformers ad because it allows you to put the toy together, once you have completed this task, a trailer for the movie is unlocked. Pretty darn smart! I can see this really taking off in advertising and being much more effective than our current banner ads. 

20. InMobi Mobile Media Rich Advertising 

(Source: inmobi.com)

19. “Let go. You are not your ideas.”- Tracy Wong

Let’s just put it out there… Tracy Wong is a god in advertising. When he came to speak in my creative strategist class I felt as if I couldn’t blink because I didn’t want to miss a millisecond of his incredible presentation. I was typing as fast as I could the entire class because everything that came out of his mouth was so freaking brilliant!!! 

Anyway, enough with my rant on Tracy Wong. When he came to speak, he said to us to make the best work you have to, “Let go. You are not your ideas.”- Tracy Wong. Yes, it sounds wonderful, and it is! It is something everyone has to work on though. Reflecting on my own work I was laughing because last year for the entry classes to the J school everyone has to take a series of classes that teach basic skills in Final Cut Pro and In Design. They have you practice taking photos and videos and conducting interviews then making a video piece with Final Cut Pro. So I went to a wolf conservation and got all of my footage, etc. then came back to U of O and spent hours upon hours fine tuning this video and fixing every little detail to make it a masterpiece… or so I thought. After I finished my project, I was so proud and showed my parents and my friends, etc. Everyone was impressed and pat me on the back and said good job. Well now I am in my senior year and I was looking through my hard drive trying to organize and I came across my beloved wolf video so I watched it. Well.. lets just say I wasn’t as proud of it as I was when I was emotionally attached to it. To be honest, it was crap!!! I wasn’t able to see this because I didn’t let go of the project and really analyze it. I was so attached to it because I had invested so much time in to it that I wasn’t able to really see that it sucked. If anyone at the time had told me it sucked, I would have been offended but now that I am in advertising, I know this is just the way it is.

Note to self: Let go of your work and come back to it!

(Source: wdcw.com)

18. Notice the Beauty in the Small Stuff

I took this photo this last spring when I went to visit Washington D.C. Of course D.C. is so beautiful, there is an immense amount of inspiration. Of all things I was particularly inspired by a few birds playing in a small bath of water. As I was passing, at first it appeared as just some black birds playing in water, but as I started to look more closely I saw much more. These birds had these incredible blue lines in their feathers that sparkled in the sun, the way the light hit the backs of their feathers making them glow was incredible. They were singing and happy, it was a wonderful sight. Something as small as a black bird can be beautiful and inspiring if you take a moment to look closer and appreciate the beauty and detail in the small stuff. Pay attention to these details and appreciate the small things in life. These are the things that make us happy and that make life worth living.