Welcome to The Stream: Allison+Partners’ content hub that features the latest news and trends making the biggest waves in media and marketing.
WINNER: Kampgrounds of America and Allison+Partners
CAMPAIGN NAME: Bringing a New Generation of Campers to KOA
Kampgrounds of America (KOA), an iconic American travel brand for over 50 years, has kept pace with contemporary camper needs by offering high-quality campgrounds with everything from tent and RV sites to deluxe cabins and resort-style glampingREAD MORE
By: Stephanie Libous
When you think anthropology, your first thought probably isn’t about its role in public relations. But while associating anthropology only with digging fossils isn’t wrong, it certainly falls short of the full picture. The purpose of anthropology is two-fold: To understand what it is to be human and to examine how different cultures shape human behaviour and communication.
At its core, cultural anthropology provides the fundamental tools for successful public relations – you need to understand your audience, what they do, why they do it and their behavioural motivations. While companies with an international brand should certainly take culture into consideration, it’s even more important to focus first on the impact this has on a company’s internal communications.READ MORE
Understand what it is to be human
In PR, the phrase “communication is key” is thrown around quite a bit. While this is true, how effective is it if we fail to understand the meaning behind what is actually being said? Communication is the means by which we express human behaviour. When you tune into the nuances of human behaviour and the motivators behind it, you begin to understand the purpose of that communication – both verbal or non-verbal.
In her book The Culture Map, Erin Meyer discusses the importance of both verbal and non-verbal communication: “Being a good listener is just as important for effective communication as being a good speaker. And both of these essential skills are equally variable from one culture to another.”
The culture you’re raised in will ultimately shape your human behaviour and it will have an impact on your communication style.
Examine how different cultures shape human behaviour and communication
Communication isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your way of communicating should be shaped by your culture. If it’s not your native culture, you need to learn and adapt to communicate effectively.
You must take a look at the different cultures and note their tendencies. For example, as Erin Meyer lays out in her culture mapping tool, the cultural communication traits of the U.S., U.K. and other Anglo-Saxon areas tend to be more direct and to the point. The less embellishment the better. However, as you move farther east into Asia to places such as India and China, you tend to find a more expressive lifestyle. Therefore, their communication styles have more subtext and narrative. When you look at European cultures such as France and Spain, you’ll find more of a middle ground.
I have experienced this first-hand. My native culture is in the U.S.; however, I have noticed differences in communication styles between home and in the U.K. One example is the amount of context provided when communicating. Though conversation is more direct and to the point in both the U.S. and U.K., when you look more closely, the “typical” U.S. style is sometimes seen as too embellished to native U.K. cultures.
A few months back, I was in a meeting in the U.K. where an American presented content he had delivered numerous times in the past – he explained and communicated why it was important to the U.K. audience. The only difference being he was used to explaining this to a U.S. audience, who preferred and expected the additional context. While this worked well back home, it had the opposite effect on the U.K. audience. Instead of appreciating the elaboration, the British found it unnecessary and felt like they were being talked at. Though it may seem like an insignificant variance, these minor nuances make a difference in how a message is interpreted and received when dealing with cross-border colleagues, clients and acquaintances in business.
The key takeaway is to understand who you are communicating with and what the cultural implications of their communication style are. Just because someone is silent in a meeting doesn’t mean they have nothing to contribute. Conversely, if someone is talking over you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are being rude. When companies take the time to ensure their employees across borders understand each other’s cultures, they will ultimately have a more productive and open line of communication, leading to better overall success.
Stephanie Libous is an Account Manager in Allison+Partners' London office.
This blog was originally posted by PRCA.
By: Jacques Couret
I read etymologies for kicks. I find editing and proofing fun. I’ve carried my badge as a proud member of the Grammar Police for nearly four decades. But now, I might have to turn in my credentials.
As part of my professional development at Allison+Partners, I recently viewed an excellent grammar and style refresher on Poynter.News University called “Sweat This, Not That: Real Rules vs. Grammar Myths.” The University of Kansas’ Lisa McLendon, aka Madam Grammar, hosted the one-hour video, which teaches writers and editors about grammar rules and “rules” pounded into their skulls that have no real basis in English grammar.READ MORE
As the product of a liberal arts education, I learned strict grammar rules, including “rules” I now must forsake reluctantly as grammar myths only posing as rules. For example: “Never end a sentence with a preposition.” We all know that one, right?
It’s a myth. Some Latin-obsessed English grammar enthusiasts decided centuries ago to apply Latin rules to English. That may have made sense during the Renaissance, but today it can lead to odd-sounding sentences. Sir Winston Churchill once mocked someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition by saying: "That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!" I, your editorial manager, approve of anything Ole Winnie said!
McLendon also believes it’s acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition because it’s contextual -- If it sounds OK to the ear and the audience is informal, it’s fine. “This isn’t the grammar rule I came here with.” I, your editorial manager, still don’t like it!
Similarly, the rule about not splitting infinitives and correct adverb placement also have Latin roots. And they’re both myths. It’s correct when Star Trek’s Capt. Kirk says, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” It’s also acceptable to write, “I quickly read The Stream.” Your editorial manager harrumphs at all of this!
McLendon gave her blessing to start sentences with conjunctions. Again, if it sounds good to the ear and the audience is informal, no worries. Your editorial manager always broke that rule anyway as a matter of personal choice!
The Serial Comma and Oxford Comma are both grammatically correct, she noted. Your editorial manager suggests deferring to your audience or personal preference and notes McLendon and her Ph.D. in Slavic languages can go jump in the lake with her Oxford Commas!
You may also noun a verb and verb a noun without fear of breaking grammar rules. What’s that mean, you ask? Nouning a verb: “Here’s an ask.” Verbing a noun: “God, I hate adulting.” Your editorial manager is “finalizing” his Grammar Police resignation papers as we speak.
English is such a complex and beautiful mélange of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, Persian and damn near everything else. Even India has left its mark – the word “shampoo.” You can thank Arabic for “alcohol.” Your editorial manager now dreams of a lovely single-malt scotch!
But grammar myths and professional styles also developed as English evolved over the centuries. In service to our clients, and with respect for the predominant American tongue, we PR professionals must always communicate well by sticking to the rules of grammar. But we must also be comfortable breaking a grammar “rule” or two in the interest of communication that calls to action, changes hearts and delivers feeling.
Take Apple’s wildly successful campaign: “Think Different.” Grammatically speaking, it’s not even a true sentence and “different” should be an adverb here -- “differently.” But who would argue the grammatically correct “You should think differently” is better?
As McLendon emphasized, the guiding grammar principle must be to defer to what is most clear, clean and concise for the reader. We should never let a rule of style guide trump clarity, she said. Your editorial manager now clings for dear life to his beloved Associated Press Stylebook!
“Writing is hard enough without worrying about manufactured distinctions that add nothing to a sentence,” McLendon said. “Writers and editors, and teachers of writing and editing, need to focus on the grammar problems — and there are plenty — that can impede understanding, mislead readers, or simply make a writer look sloppy and unprofessional, instead of sending more grammar myths around the Internet.”
I urge you to check out McClendon’s seminar during a lunch break and refresh yourselves on English grammar rules, and perhaps rekindle your love for the written word with all its contradictions and complexities.
Jacques Couret is a former journalist who currently serves as editorial manager of All Told, Allison+Partners’ global integrated marketing offering.
On an Oscars night that was powered by women, a new Nike ad that debuted during the broadcast featured tennis superstar Serena Williams telling how she overcame the cries of her detractors to find success.
With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, Nike wanted to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women everywhere in a push for gender equality that was, in this case, delivered by Williams.READ MORE
One of the nation’s largest sports retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods, said Wednesday morning it was immediately ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.
The retailer also said that it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines and that it would not sell any gun to anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.
The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries symbolic weight, coming from a prominent national gun seller.READ MORE
While the US president continues his quest to build a wall at the Mexican border, others are trying to tear down the walls between cultures and celebrate diversity. That’s the point of a new campaign by Univision Communications (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America.
Univision is introducing ‘Se Habla USA,’ a campaign to promote the value of diversity, inclusion and the important role Hispanic culture and Spanish language play in America. The point is to empower Latinos to be stronger advocates for themselves and their communities, and to encourage them to take pride in their language and culture. It also aims to promote the positive influence Hispanics have had and continue to have in the US.READ MORE