As an Arab American, I was surprised and frustrated with how little feedback we can get from the Arab Americans in DC. We had an audition for the census to motivate the Arab Americans in the US to participate in the census count. I tried all the web sites, social media to contact Arabs who speak or only look like Arabs to come for the audition. I only succeeded in convincing very few people to audition.
I hope most of us as Arab Americans will be more active to various events in the area, become more involved within their community, build relationships with other networks, and sensitizes the leaders of the Arab American communities with its concerns. While we have seen a steady improvement in increasing awareness of Arab-related issues, much needs to be done in spreading the word to the more than 300,000 in the U.S.
Please help us improve our communities and build a better future for all of us. Make your suggestions and comments on this blog. Tell us what you think is the best way to reach more Arab Americans in the US; to get them involved with events, activities and area of interest. Let us hear your voice.
The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking to partner with Russian American organizations to increase participation of hard-to-reach Russian communities for the 2010 Census count. Since 1790, the United States government has conducted a census every ten years in order to count the full population in the United States. The 2010 Census will mark the 23rd census of the U.S. It is a constitutional right of all U.S. residents to participate in the census.
For recent Russian immigrants and non-native English speakers, this might be the first census they participate in, so it is important to understand what to expect from the census. “It is extremely important for our community to be accurately counted,” stated Rabbi Alexander Milchtein, the Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews (MSRJ). “The 2010 Census helps gain an accurate picture of America today. If this community is under-counted, they will be underrepresented for all the government and private services for the next ten years. The role of the government is huge and many decisions are going to be made depending on the results of the census.” Following the census, results determine how more than $400 billion in funds are allocated to states for the development of hospitals, schools, police stations, roads and other critical community services.
To Milchtein, success means correctly counting the community. To make that happen residents must get involved, step up, and spread the word—after all “everyone has friends or relatives who will benefit from the services.” To ease the process, a new shorter form has been introduced with only ten easy questions, and the Census Bureau guarantees total privacy and confidentiality of the data. Every person must be counted whether he or she is a citizen or non-citizen, documented or undocumented for the greater good of the community.
The Census Bureau hopes that partnering with local Russian American organizations will bring a greater sense of inclusion to Russian-speakers. “Get your full share!” Milchtein concludes. “Residents pay taxes no matter what, if taxes go back to the community, you want to get benefits back the same proportion that you paid. If you’re not counted, it’s like you’re not here.”
If you live in Michigan and have no plans this Friday night, you should head to the movie theater. After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival and winning a Cannes prize, Amreeka (http://www.arabdetroit.com/news.php?id=908) hits theaters to portray the lives of an Arab American immigrant family.
The film, unlike many portrayals of Arab American post 9/11, shows this challenges this ethnic family faces in America. It’s important to see this viewpoint here in America. Many times Arab Americans are seen as the villain, but in reality this community is often victimized. The director, Cherien Dabis, as an Arab American herself, strives to dispel stereotypes and right the wrongs of past actions.
She says, “If we don’t tell our story, who will? We can tell it the best, and with all the damaging misinformation floating around out there, it’s our responsibility as Arab Americans to work on reversing those inaccuracies.”
Her point is so eloquent—those that can personally identify with a culture are best to advise on that culture. The misinformation she speaks of can only be fixed through true understanding of this community, and Dabis’ film is a step in that direction.
Outreach and marketing ties in here because just as marketers want their audience to see their product/brand/service in the right way, the audience wants the marketers to see them the right way—to understand the truths of their beliefs, needs trends, and much more that makes up a certain community and culture.
This film doesn’t just represent one family’s story in America, but also the successes and advancement of the Arab American people. This community is growing rapidly; their education and income levels are high, placing them at a higher buying power than not only many minorities, but the mass audience as a whole.
Working with the ethnic media in the U.S. might not be easy. Let’s say you want to send out a press release to Russian American media. You follow all the mainstream Public Relations (PR) rules, but there is no result. Why? Because multicultural PR requires a distinct knowledge. Ethnic advertising agencies, like Allied Media Corp., are the perfect choice for multicultural outreach because such specialized marketers work with these media everyday and understand the difference between mainstream and ethnic PR.
The first rule of ethnic PR is cultural relevancy. Basic translation of a press release is not enough. The Russian American community reacts strongly to chosen words and phrases. A press release for the ethnic media should be written by a professional, native speaker who understands every little detail of that particular language. This press release should then be edited by another native speaker, which ensures mistakes are eliminated and cultural relevance is accepted. The press release would then be ready for distribution. However, even if the press release is written correctly, it still would not generate enough attention for the media. This is where the second rule of ethnic PR comes into play – direct contact with the media. A follow up call right after the sent press release is essential. It helps to make sure that your press release is not ignored or lost in the mail, and also establishes a personal relationship with editors and reporters.
Another important aspect is that these media outlets are small, unaudited, underpaid and, therefore, very dependent on their advertisers. The media seems to be very interested in the story, but then the question pops up: How much would you pay us to publish it? When you specify that PR is actually non-paid marketing, they lose all interest. Strong, pre-existing relationships with the media, as well as knowledge of the language, makes multicultural ad agencies the best way to go for ethnic PR outreach.
Finally, and most importantly, mainstream PR agencies do not have the ability to reach out to Russian Americans or any other ethnic outlets. They simply don’t have an exhaustive database, pre-existing relationships with the media, cultural knowledge of the ethnic community, and multicultural professionals who perform state of the art job for ethic PR and other multicultural marketing services. So, what is the most important rule of ethnic PR? Let the professional ethnic marketers do the job and be sure that your marketing campaign will be a success!
-Elena Lauterbach, Eastern European Team Lead at Allied Media Corp.
During the month of Ramadan (August 21 – September 19), the U.S. Army 1st Brigade has launched a poster distribution campaign to recruit Arabic translators. For effective results and with a focused effort, the U.S. Army chose to disregard traditional ad placements and take a more personal route. The posters are in Arabic and even include a traditional Ramadan greeting.
You will find posters in the windows of local shops while walking the streets of Paterson, NJ; Brooklyn, NY; Fairfax, VA and other locales densely populated with Arab Americans. These ethnic stores are an integral part of the community; a place to see familiar faces and buy cultural cuisine. It’s great that the U.S. Army 1st Brigade recognizes the importance of these communities and the heavy presence of these retail shops.
Such a distribution campaign is a perfect way to reach out to ethnic communities. There are alternative ways, such as inserting flyers in the in-language newspapers, but hanging a poster in the store is noticeable, attractive and personal. Many of these ethnic communities are concentrated in or near cities, so it’s also likely a customer seeing the poster in one store will see it again in another nearby shop—creating more exposure, higher readership, and a longer-lived message.
Allied Media Corp. provides this service across many ethnic communities including Arab-Americans, Polish-Americans and Russian-Americans. If you’d like to know more about distribution campaigns or ethnic communications in general, check out: www.allied-media.com
If you have interest in becoming a translator for the U.S. Army, visit the website: www. GoArmy.com/translate
Remember: advertising, outreach and recruitment to minorities is most successful when you incorporate a cultural awareness of your audience!
September 11, marked not only the worst attack ever on US soil, but also the beginning of two controversies. First is the United State’s global “War on Terror” as it was called by the Bush administration. Next, being the undeniable increase of discrimination in the United States towards those from (and those perceived to be from) the Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South-Asian American communities. To make things worse, these two issues directly clash with one another:
To combat terrorism, US military and intelligence agencies desperately need to hire the same Americans that feel discriminated against by the government and people of the US!
Eight years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and unfortunately discrimination towards Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South-Asian American’s continue. Today’s Detroit News Article (Link to Article) closely documents discrimination that Detroit area Sikh’s feel not only from their fellow Americans, but also from law enforcement, and other officials. As discrimination towards these groups continue, feelings of distrust towards the government increase amongst these communities, at the very time the US Government needs them most.
This problem the US government faces isn’t one with an easy answer. And, the need for linguists and cultural specialists isn’t one that is going to go away any time soon. What government agencies must continue to do (or begin to do) is engage sources that ethnic communities in the US know and trust. This means working with community leaders, organizations, and media outlets not just to recruit Americans with the language skills they need, but to develop trust and understanding between government agencies in the Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South-Asian American communities.
Written By Jameson Strotman, Allied Media Corp
Learning Together from Home, Muslim-Americans are part of a growing population choosing online education over more traditional forms.
Seven year old Faatimah and twelve year old Sakina Musa are back in school. But instead of getting on a bus every morning and traveling to a school building, they simply turn on their computers from home and “log-on” to school. Both girls are enrolled in an online school that allows them to receive a complete education from their home, under the guidance of their mother and with support from “virtual” teachers. It’s a new trend in education that is becoming increasingly popular with families across the country.
Both girls use the education program developed by K12, the largest provider of online school programs for students in kindergarten through high school in the U.S. The K12 program combines innovative web-based lessons delivered through the Internet with offline education materials, such as books, science equipment and even music and art supplies. K12 delivers their program directly to the doorstep of every enrolled student at the beginning of each school year.
Faatimah and Sakina’s mother, Cheryl, works alongside her daughters as they complete their lessons and school work. She also receives support and assistance from K12 teachers who communicate with her and the girls via telephone, email, and even web-based conferencing, or “e-classrooms.” According to Cheryl, learning from home using K12 online learning program is the right solution for her family. “We love to learn together as a family,” said Cheryl. “It pulls us together and brings us close. Our family motto is ‘readers are leaders.’”
While the K12 education program is offered to families in many ways – including purchasing individual courses or through the private K12 International Academy – the Musa’s are enrolled in one of many tuition-free K12 virtual public schools, which are available in 23 states plus the District of Columbia.
“A friend referred me to K12 and I found that I could enroll my daughters in one of their virtual schools for free, because it is a public school program,” said Cheryl. According to Cheryl, what drew her to K12 was quality and rigor of the program.
“I was looking for a program that was more interactive, more challenging for my daughters, especially with reading,” said Cheryl.
The Musa’s work hard to balance three important areas of their lives – family, religion, and education. As a devout Muslim-American family, they cherish their Friday’s together attending religious services. Cheryl says one of the great advantages of learning at home using the K12 program is that it gives her family more flexibility than they would have at a regular school.
“We can take off on Friday’s. We have more freedom for our family lifestyle. It’s more flexible, yet we’re not sacrificing our education.”
Even though her daughters learn from home, Cheryl emphasized that they are not isolated.
“Our kids are involved in so many outside and community activities. With K12, they actually have more time for activities. They’re very active and well-rounded.”
Faatimah and Sakina are part of a growing number of students that are choosing online education over traditional schools. According to the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, well over one million students are enrolled in online learning here in the U.S and it is growing at 30% every year.
Cheryl believes more and more Muslim-American families are turning to learning online because of how providers like K12 can deliver a high quality education right to their home. “Education is a main focus for Muslim-Americans, like us,” said Cheryl. “I have many friends who are choosing to learn from home. It’s been the perfect fit for us.”
For more information on K12′s Public Relations campaign or other ethnic outreach, contact Paul Young (email@example.com) with Allied Media Corp.
CIA Director Leon Panetta seeks diversity.
Saying that diversity is vital to national security, the head of the CIA is set to meet with Arab-American and Chaldean advocates next week in Dearborn as part of an ongoing effort to engage metro Detroiters who have roots in the Middle East.
CIA Director Leon Panetta is to speak at a dinner Wednesday with about 150 community leaders in the Bint Jebail Cultural Center, a Lebanese-American hall in Dearborn.
“We look forward to a good meeting with Mr. Panetta,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who was invited to attend. The CIA sees “the value of the community.”
In recent years, the CIA has tried to increasingly recruit Arab Americans as the United States has become involved in conflicts across the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Metro Detroit is “filled with patriots with the skills our country needs,” CIA spokesman George Little said.
The CIA has been a big sponsor of Arab-American events in metro Detroit in recent years, including the Arab International Festival in June.
“Diversity helps us do a better job of keeping this country safe,” Panetta said this month in Washington, D.C., at the annual conference of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, according to a CIA transcript. “Good intelligence requires officers from diverse backgrounds.”
Hamad said that some Arab Americans are skeptical of the CIA because some fear being spied on. But he added that others are eager to work with the agency.
Detroit Free Press
September 9, 2009 became a historical day for the Russian-speaking community in the US. Not just because this day was marked as “09-09-09” (he-he). Rather because, on this day Governor David Paterson signed a law requiring Russian translation of all materials of the Electoral Council. The law was signed at Brighton Beach, which has the largest Russian speaking community in the United States. Although the law comes into force in 2010, the event stirred up the entire Russian community and the political elite of New York. Finally, the Russian community is recognized as sizable enough for the Electoral Council. Way to go! Another great cause to raise our shots and say “Na zdorov’e!”
Why would it be wrong to take an ad already produced or designed in mainstream language and translate it? Nothing! Except that is exactly the result advertisers do not want. Nothing!
They want something to happen when an ad is out there. They want consumers to react and feel that the ad is speaking to them. Consumers are attracted not only by visuals but also by a well written message.
Let’s see a few examples of badly translated slogans to get a sense of why a straight translation of a message, slogan, tag line or call for action will risk ruining your advertising campaign:
Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea.”
Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into German only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “manure stick.”
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.
The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, “Salem-Feeling Free,” was translated into the Japanese market as “When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.”
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the beautiful baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside, since most people can’t read English.
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.
An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I saw the potato” (la papa.)
In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into “Schweppes Toilet Water.”
Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave,” in Chinese.
Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “it takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”
When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “it won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
If we want to reach out to a specific audience, the first step of message development should include native speakers from these specific cultures. Not somebody who studied the language, but someone who lived among the native people, learned their customs, their social dos and don’t s.
to be continued…