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.”
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.
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…