On Tuesday, October 29, 2013, the Canadian Public Relations Society of Vancouver hosted an excellent event at the Metropolitan Hotel. A variety of non-members, members and students filled the Cristal Room to attend Speaking the ‘Right’ Language: Multicultural Communications in a Globalized World.
The evening began with networking and light refreshments. Joanne Probyn, CPRS Vancouver professional development director, kicked-off the presentation with a brief introduction on the impact of multicultural communications personally and professionally.
Denyse Johnson, the Global Communications and Media Relations Advisor for the Canadian Tourism Commission lead the presentation through her experiences and knowledge within the industry. Johnson explained that no matter where one is working or what they are doing, there is always a sense of multiculturalism present. Johnson affirmed Canada’s diversity is what makes the country “beautiful and relative.”
Her presentation engaged the audience through a process of asking three questions that consisted of the audiences view on certain cultural experiences. She shared her experiences through case studies including the Beijing 2008 Olympics and the CTC Media Train.
Johnson explained low and high context style communications; a low context style consists is direct and a high context style is indirect. She presented a visual scale indicating Germany and the United States are low context and Japan and South Korea are high context.
She covered individualism, collectivism and national power differences. Her presentation was largely inspired by Professor Geert Hoftstede’s work. Johnson also explored international advertising comparing effective Chinese and American ads. She explained how photos, colours and text greatly impact international sales and marketing tactics. She believes consulting with a local expert from the targeted country is essential to success.
Johnson did an excellent job clearly communicating how to work with various cultures. It’s important to seek to understand how to communicate effecively in Canada’s diverse workplaces. She finished the presentation with a simple note of advice–although we are often taught to use the Golden Rule it doesn’t always apply in multicultural communications. People around the world have different morals, values, and lifestyles. Sometimes what is appropriate to one culture is inappropriate in another. “Sometimes, it’s not about treating others how you’d want to be treated, but tailoring communications to fit the need of another,” says Johnson.