Getting Ready for the Minority to become the Majority – Multicultural PR in Diverse States like New Jersey
More newborns in the United States today are considered minorities, and by 2042, the U.S. Census estimates we will have a majority-minority population. With this continuously increasing diversity in America, brand marketers must include – or at least consider – a multicultural communications component as part of their strategic plan. In doing so, it’s critical to look beyond obvious populations – Hispanics and African-Americans. To develop a comprehensive multicultural strategy, you must maintain a good understanding of the ranging and continuously evolving demographics across America.
Take New Jersey, where we are based, for example. According to Wikipedia, New Jersey is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states in the country. It has large populations of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Italian-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Peruvian-Americans, Portuguese-Americans, and many other ethnicities. The breakdown varies as you travel around the state, with towns such as Edgewater and Fort Lee having a huge concentration of Asian-Americans, while Newark is home to a Portuguese-influenced neighborhood and large African-American community, and in Edison you’ll find sizable Middle Eastern and Indian-American populations.
Diversity of this magnitude extends across America, to varying degrees. As such, PR professionals must carefully research and plan their multicultural communications programs to account for the differing cultural lifestyles, languages, traditions, and interests of the consumers they wish to target. If you do your homework, the opportunities to execute targeted PR campaigns are endless. Following are three important considerations for developing and executing a multicultural PR campaign:
1. Know your audiences’ heritages and nuances:
Do NOT guess at this! It’s important to understand who your customers are and how cultural backgrounds impact their interests, lifestyles and needs. Speak with members of the ethnic populations you wish to target. Perhaps align yourself with community groups and ethnic associations. The information you gather is critical for determining messaging, opportunities, communications outlets, a timeline, and much more. As importantly, it’s vital for uncovering nuances so that your PR is “culturally-correct!”
2. Develop multicultural content for different cultural lifestyles:
There’s no debating that good content is key to any communications program, and multicultural programs are no exception. In fact, since fewer brands execute multicultural vs. general communications efforts, if your content speaks to the cultural interests and nuances of the targeted ethnic market, and whenever possible in their native language, you will have a much better chance of success! But remember, you cannot simply translate the same information you develop for the general public. You must also adapt the content to be sensitive to cultural differences, and to appreciate cultural lifestyles.
3. Choose and develop communications “vehicles” dedicated to each audience:
As experienced PR practitioners know, there’s a host of ethnic publications and programs in the U.S. These outlets can be the “low hanging fruit” for your campaign, assuming you’ve sufficiently tackled #1 above! Beyond this, you should consider social and mobile media initiatives since according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, multicultural audiences have taken the lead in social media usage and mobile technology adoption. Also, don’t underestimate the impact of ethnic events hosted within your target communities – even small ones – since a tie-in is bound to reach your exact audience!
Returning to our New Jersey example, in working with regional blood bank Community Blood Services, we experienced firsthand just how important cultural nuances are in a communications campaign. We implemented campaigns targeting specific ethnic populations to meet particular donation needs. This often included learning about and accounting for certain cultural views about the safety of the blood donation process.
So while minorities are on their way to being the majority, how are you adapting your communications efforts to speak to specific audiences?