October 26, 2006 at 5:06 pm 2 comments

Being a person who has had the opportunity to travel and experience misunderstandings brought about by cultural difference, I cannot over emphasize the need for PR practitioners to incorporate an understanding of cultural diversity into research. To most in developing countries the standardization that comes with globalization means a loss of culture, language and art.

 I remember when I first traveled to Perth, Australia, two things were difficult to come to terms with. Firstly, addressing older people by their first names and then people looking me straight in the eyes with a smile while having a conversation was difficult. This felt okay with fellow men, but coming from a woman implies I like you from a Zambian perspective. I struggled with mixed messages till I finally adjusted and luckily did not act on them. Having said this I can easily understand why there could be misunderstandings of being led on by a woman’s gestures or indeed feel disrespected by cultural liberate Australians who may have encounters with Zambians. 

Of the two fundamental types of research, namely qualitative and quantitative research, qualitative research is preferred as it attaches a real face to an issue. Because of this type of research I would recommend a qualitative approach in PR research, by anticipating problems brought about by culture diversity. People need to be heard and not simply be compiled into statistics, where culture is problematic.

Public relations is about using persuasion and relationship building to form opinions about an organization, individual or cause.  As such, the successful outcome of PR practicioners on a global scale depends on Public relations personnel’s understanding of the different cultures with which they associate. Public relations research incorporated with cultural knowledge will help to anticipate problems by evaluating ongoing programs, assess the effectiveness of policies, and present in detail the weak points and the strong points of issues more effectively.  


Newsom, D., Turk, J., Kruckeburg (2006) Trends in PR This is PR The Realities of Public Relations 9th edition (pp. 56-61) Belmont, CA: Holly Allen.A must read chapter for tomorrow’s PR professionals.

O’Connor, N. Falconi, T. (2003) Profiling the regulatory Environment of Public Relations Practice in the U.K, Italy and
South Africa
. Retrieved October 14, 2006 from global alliance website: 

This research paper approved by Global Alliance gives a detailed account of recent developments in PR at global level.

Lindenmann, W. (2006). Public Relations Research for Planning and Evaluation.Retrieved October 10, 2006, Institute for Public Relations website:

Walter K. Lindenmann, Ph.D. is a specialist in Public relations research and measurement. 


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prclass  |  October 27, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Hello Mumba

    I read your post with interest. In effect, you are probably informally researching Canadian culture everyday and making comparsions to your Australian experiences and your Zambian roots. I am sure there are many differences. We’d love to hear about your observations.

    I know as a teacher I have almost always preferred to be addressed by my first name. Note though that some of my colleagues do not have this preference and some Canadian students do prefer to call me Ms. or Mrs. Morningstar because it makes them comfortable to do so.

    Some things in Canadian educational culture may look casual (like the first names) and other things may also be different: our program values project work and we do not have many courses that require memorization of data. This is a different approach to some models of education.

    I have heard anecdotally that North Americans have a strong preference for eye contact in almost all conversational situations and that many other cultures use eye contact more sparingly or with different purposes. We heard from Warren Bickford when he spoke in London of his experiences in China and some of their expectations for business behaviour.

    Mumba, increasingly, people like yourself with experiential knowledge in several cultures will help us all bridge communication traditions that are culturally specific.


  • 2. prclass  |  October 30, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Mumba, I like your use of real examples to hammer your point out. And you are right, many people argue that globalization is wiping away traditions that many people hold.

    It must be very difficult for yourself to adjust to every place that you travel. And to build off Dana, you should build off this diverse knowledge and use it to your advantage. This will be an excellent asset to have when applying for a job wherever that may be.



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