Culture is a set of beliefs, practices and traditions that have been learned all throughout childhood and young adulthood. Culture has the ability to make individuals feel like they are a part of something larger and create a sense familiarity. This is why public relations practitioners should take advantage of understanding other cultures’ beliefs, practices and traditions. It will allow for better communication to diverse audiences.
According to the 2006 United States Census, 14.8 percent of the United States total population is Hispanic. The data also show that the Hispanic growth rate of 24.3 percent was more than triple the growth of the total population. This information indicates that the Hispanic population is continually growing, and communicating efficiently to them is ever more important.
In a study done by Contact a Family, tools are listed to help communicate to minorities within the community.
1. Learn about the community
2. Talk to local leaders
3. Read local newsletters, leaflets, posters, and websites
4. Attend local events and meetings
Being a part of the community even in these small ways will result in direct experience on the manners in which communication is regularly done. Are the newsletters written in Spanish, English or both? Do local leaders present themselves in a causal or formal tone? Aligning communication with the way that is currently being done will ensure that the audience will understand and be familiar with the format the message is in.
Within the Hispanic group of people there is even more diversity. In an article by Danny Selnick, he states, Hispanic people “come to the United States from all corners of the Americas, and there are cultural and language differences that need to be addressed.” We need to be aware that the Hispanic population is not only Mexicans or people from Brazil. The Hispanic populations is diverse inside itself and should be addressed accordingly.
Translation is a barrier that also must be dealt with when communicating between cultures. As we all learned in our foreign language classes of our younger years, putting a sentence in a Spanish translator generator on Google never works. Selnick argues not only do these translations not make sense but they lose the “culturally rich” essence of the Spanish language.
An example of a poor advertising translation happened when Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico. The ads were supposed to read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” However, the company mistakenly thought the Spanish word embarazar meant “embarrass.” Instead, the ads said, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant!”