By Joe Carleo

LITTLE ROCK – On June 19, 2009 Joe Carleo, APR and Vice Chair of the PRSA National Diversity Committee gave a speech to the Little Rock PRSA chapter at their invitation for a professional development seminar to almost 50 engaged PR pros about multicultural communications.  The program topic, “Maximizing Your Multicultural Communications in 2009,” addressed some of the latest research about the rapid growth of that community and gave practical tips about doing a separate campaign, using the RACE model of program research, planning and evaluation, maintaining an adequate budget, getting support from senior leaders, as well as the importance of adequate and valid measurement metrics.  I also emphasized among other points that “you need to have an ongoing and positive relation with multicultural groups, especially if you will eventually ask them to buy your client’s products or services”.

We talked about being aware of cultural blinders such as using similar communication tools where you historically succeed when targeting mainline audiences. Ask yourself “how do they want to receive the information?” – Do the focus groups in their preferred language and dig deep on the findings. For many groups, web and mobile platforms are key and for others, radio or face to face is the preferred channel”.

Among case studies presented were the Little Rock School District with 43 languages besides English. Another example cited was healthcare systems many of which have over 180 languages besides English where they must provide accurate communication in the native language. On the retail side, Walmart and Lowe’s were examples of using bilingual signage in the aisles to welcome Hispanic customers and increase sales.

I concluded by saying that “there are many ways to succeed in multicultural communications and also there are dozens of ways to step in a huge mud puddle and sometimes you will take years to get the mud off.  If it’s a bad mistake, the mud may never come off”!

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