Interaction (PR-in-Interaction Approach)

Country Profile

According to Zaharna, “we must be alert to the effect economic and political developments may have on the strategies we propose for clients, and on the  implementation of the strategies they direct.” The structural parameters of a country can greatly influence the public relations campaigns and messages to the public as well as distribution of those messages. Zaharna specifies six basic categories of a country profile that could effect public relations including political structure, economic structure, mass media, infrastructure, legal structure, and social structure.

In order to put any PR campaign into place you would have to take into consideration all of these things that I have researched. You can find more information on all of these topics under the country profile tab.

Cultural Profile

According to Zaharna, a cultural profile speaks to what may be effective in a country. “Cultural barriers represent the cultural differences that a practitioner must overcome in order to effecively engage the client and communicate with diverse audiences.” Basic cultural differences include high-context & low-context, monochronic & polychronic, doing & being, future-tense & past-tense, and linear & nonlinear.

High-context vs Low-contes

India is considered to be a High-context culture. According to Zaharna High-context cultures are “more interested in fostering trust than in signing contracts” and focus less on written communication. They are focused on person, face-to-face relationships. Most of the information in high-text cultures such as India is “either in the physical context or internalized in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message.”

Monochronic vs. polychromic

India is a Polychronic culture. In cultures where time is plentiful, like India or Latin American, there is no problem with making people wait all day, and then tell them to come back the next day. Time-plentiful cultures tend to rely on trust to do business. Several simultaneous events are allowed. More value is placed on other people’s feelings than on keeping appointments.

Doing vs being

According to Zaharna, “for being-oriented cultures, achievement is not as important as an individual’s birth, family background, age and rank.” India is a being-oriented culture. Because social mobility is rare between social classes within the caste system, the status you are born into becomes important. Like Zaharna said, “an awareness of ‘doing’ versus ‘being’ notions of self can serve to guide how [a PR practitioner] cultivates client relations or proposes new projects.”

Future vs past

Future-oriented societies have a great deal of optimism about the future. They think they understand it and can shape it through their actions. They view management as a matter of planning, doing and controlling. These cultures invest their efforts and resources in an ephemeral vision – an ever-changing view of what the future may hold.

Liner vs nonlinear

India is a nonlinear culture. Zaharna stresses “the non-linear thought framework that normally has multiple themes, is expressed orally and heightened by nonverbal communication.” In nonlinear cultures “communication involves the simultaneous bombardment and processing of a variety of stimuli.”

Communication Components

According to Zaharna, each individual public relations practice “may consist of several different communication behaviors, all of which are shaped by culture. Communication components to be considered include verbal, nonverbal, and visual communication, as well as rhetorical style and communication matrix.

Verbal Communication

Hindi is the official language of India and has at least 13 different dialects. However, the Indian constitution recognizes 18 languages, including English. Different states of India have different official languages. It is inappropriate to be direct when asking questions and one should not expect an immediate response. The same goes for asking personal questions. It’s also disrespectful to always be the first one to talk, and to only talk about what you are interested in. Pauses in conversations are expected, it can be used for emphasis or to show disapproval. Silence is not uncommon, it is normal to just sit and enjoy someone’s company. 

Nonverbal Communication

India is a high context culture, there is much reliance on nonverbal gestures. In India, people greet each other using the word Namaste and they put their palms together in front of their chest and give a slight bow of the head. This casual or formal greeting is a custom in all of India. Used to begin and end with, Namaste literally means “I bow to you”-my greetings or salutations. Men will shake hands, but not with women. Women should never initiate the handshake. Like other Asian cultures, Indians require the removal of footwear before entering a sacred area. The people of India have different gestures. According to Charlene Wu on Cultural Gestures, Indians will “grasp their earlobes to express remorse or honesty.” She also states that they use their whole hand or chin to signal to something. An apology can be given by tapping someone’s shoulder and then tapping your own forehead.

Indians do not like to say no because people do not like to hear no. They tell you what you want to hear, which is part of the reason they use the head wobble. Indians clearly believe that actions speak louder than words because of the universal gesture that unites their country. People who travel to India often get confused by the Indian head wobble. According to the travel website, the head wobble represents the word “accha”. This can mean anything from “yes” or “no” as well as, “good” to “I understand”. The further south in India, the more common the head wobble is.



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