Cultural References

Research:

Macnamara specified that “language difference reflect fundamental codes that vary across cultures.” Though he was referring to English, few people recognize that brail is also a means of communication. It is not considered another language, but it does have to be taught and learned to those with low vision.

Blind Industries highlights Mitchell’s idea of legitimacy. Legitimacy is defined as “a generalized perception or assumption that the action of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions.” By having a mission to “nurture a culture that promotes open communication, teamwork and trust while offering comprehensive rehabilitation programs and evolving employment opportunities for blind and low vision people of all ages” and actively providing the equipment and training programs to children, adults, and senior citizens to do just that, Blind Industries proves itself to be a legitimate organization.

Macnamara pointed out the importance of research including secondary data, online forums, interviews with key representatives, webpages, and surveys. Each of these methods was used to gather information on Blind Industries and its mission before establishing a campaign objective. Secondary data included research by Johns Hopkins on the blind population of Salisbury as well as what it feels like to be blind. Online forums such as Facebook allowed us to research the level of interaction BISM had with its followers and if social media would be a good promotional outlet. Interviews conducted by email with key representatives such as Christina Davis the Communication Director of BISM focused the campaign to a particular target public and program. Webpages such as the Blind Industries website which was well developed provided research on the history of the organization and what it offers the blind community. Finally, surveys conducted after the campaign could be conducted in person, on a brail form, or online and would help to better evaluate the success of the campaign.

Additionally, according to Kent, maintaining “face” or an organization’s reputation and public image is an important concept throughout the world. Increasing attendance to BISM’s center based training programs for senior citizens would show that it is actively helping the blind community like its mission says it attempts to do and therefore the “face” of the organization is maintained.

Goal/Objectives:

Research on the mission and goals of Blind Industries highlighted Mitchell’s idea of urgency and criticality. Urgency is “pressing” or “calling for immediate action” and this organization’s mission fits the sub-criteria of being time sensitive as well as important or critical to the stakeholder. For those senior citizens in the blind community who would be encouraged to attend the center based training program, the training is urgent. It is time sensitive because their vision may continue to deteriorate with age and the sooner they can be trained the more successful the training may be. Also, the training is both important and critical to the stakeholder. Without blind training, low vision senior citizens will have to rely on others to function and complete simple daily tasks. The training is critical to sustaining the independence of the program attendees or stakeholders as well as the organization being able to continue assisting the blind community.

Strategies:

In the fifth step of the generic approach to public relations, Kent stressed examining the strategic considerations to further make a message culturally appropriate. This includes issues such as respect for elders and perceptions of time. According to Augustine, America, where the campaign would take place, is a low-context culture. Because of this, it is also a fast-paced monochronic culture which values efficiency and speed. The blind community would feel displaced because of this value. With little to no vision, blind people must move at slower pace out of necessity so that they do not hurt or injure themselves or make critical mistakes. Promotion of the senior citizen training programs will focus on allowing them to improve their efficiency and mold better into society while helping them relate to others who understand the difficulties of being a part of a different culture within your society.

Tactics:

Macnamara stressed that relationships require dialogue not monologue and “the ultimate expression of public relations as two-way symmetric communication where the organization and its audiences were in harmony.” The Blind Industries campaign targeted this relationship value by incorporating social media into the promotion of the center based training programs for senior citizens. Flyers posted and linked to Facebook and Twitter will be shared as part of an online forum which followers can post on with general comments or questions. BISM can then respond back to followers and engage them in a conversation about the importance of the programs. Online flyers can be targeted to low vision seniors but more specifically their children or care providers. The target audience using social media will be younger and those who have parents with low-vision will look into the programs with the hopes that they will encourage their parents to feel more independent and raise their self-esteem in the process.

According to Mitchell, an organization can exercise power called normative power which is based on social symbols such as “those of love and acceptance.” This idea of normative, normative-social or social power is intertwined with the creation of the Blind Industries flyers and PSAs. The target audience chosen was blind or low-vision senior citizens. Flyers impose power over the intended audience by encouraging them to attend the training program by tapping into their desire to be accepted and “normal.” Low-vision senior citizens will value the popular social symbol of independence and feel compelled to attend the class.

Macnamara specified that “language difference reflect fundamental codes that vary across cultures.” Though he was referring to English, few people recognize that brail is also a means of communication. It is not considered another language, but it does have to be taught and learned to those with no vision. Because of this difference in “language,” radio PSAs were included as a tactic to reach those who were past the point of low-vision and to the point of being completely blind. Hearing an encouraging message to attend the training programs would be a great way to reach them.

Kent states that in low-context cultures such as the United States, “communication is driven by what is actually spoken or written.” Because of this, flyers and radio spots are perfect tactics to reach members of the target public because they live in a low-context culture.

Evaluation:

Macnamara specified that “evaluation is, or should be, part of an ongoing process of gathering information for understanding existing attitudes, views and perceptions to assist in planning as well as assessing results of the campaigns.” The research conducted at the beginning of the campaign on the number of program attendees compared to the number at the end of the campaign only serves as a base to further evaluate and plan an even more successful way to increase attendance. If surveys taken show that low-vision senior citizens do not want to attend training programs because of existing values such as stubbornness based on their cultural perceptions of the importance of independence, then the flyers distributed during the campaign can target that value of independence and make the target audience want to attend based on growing that independence.

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