So why do we need to communicate?

It is rare when I tell someone that you work as a public relations consultant that people instantly know what you are talking about, which is ironic for an industry that centres around communication.

Communication is one of the most basic elements that makes up the social fabric of our world. The ability of humans to be able to tell, listen, inform, explain, persuade, read, write, draw and watch is what allows us to organise towards a common purpose.

As a public relations and communications consultant, my role is to look at the way that organisations are communicating and ensuring that their communication is the most effective for its audience and its purpose. It may be looking at how an organisation communications as a whole (communication strategy), how it communicates to meet a specific objective (a public relations campaign), how it deals with potential threats (issues management), how it engages with the community (community engagement) or how it deals with specific audiences (internal, stakeholders, media).

How does it differ from marketing?

Marketing’s purpose is the create and bring to market a product that meets the needs or adds value to the target audience.

The purpose of public relations is much broader and deals with all of the groups that an organisation must deal with to make sure it has a positive environment from which to conduct its business.

Think of these groups and how important it may be to communicate with them:

  • Your employees who are the face of your product, service and organisation
  • Government authorities who create the regulatory environment for you to operate in
  • Media who can give third-party endorsement to your products, company and brand
  • Unions, professional bodies and your industry (including your competitors) who may have an impact on your operations or on the standing of your industry
  • The local community in which you operate

While public relations can be used to directly support marketing, think about how difficult it may be for an organisation to conduct its business, if it loses the relationship with any of the groups above?

End of The Maltese Herald shows the lifespan of multicultural press

Yesterday I heard the news that The Maltese Herald, which has been the newspaper for the Maltese community for over 50 years, is printing its last publication.

While my initial reaction was of sadness that this newspaper will no longer be around, after further reflection I have come to the conclusion that the end of The Maltese Herald is potentially a good sign and a positive milestone for the Maltese community in Australia.

Unlike many other ‘mainstream’ newspapers that are cutting staff and closing their doors, The Maltese Herald is closing not because it is solely a print medium, but because it has potentially served its purpose in the community.

The newspaper was born out of the European migration into Australian throughout the 50s and 60s. Large numbers of Maltese people (including my parents) immigrated here during that period, mostly settling in Melbourne and Sydney. When The Maltese Herald printed its first publication in 1961 it was due to the intense need for the Maltese community to connect with each other, highlight community issues and remain in touch with news from back home.

Over the past 50 years the newspaper has highlighted community issues that are specific to the Maltese, relations between Australia and Malta, and followed the lives of the Maltese community as they became established in their new community.

Fifty years later, however, statistics are showing that the use of the Maltese language in the Australian community is in decline. Those still deeply connected with Malta use dedicated news programs on SBS or Maltese news sites to get their news back home, while for many who are Maltese-born or Australian with Maltese heritage, Australian news is now their news from home.
The community concerns or issues that they raise are the same as their neighbours from other backgrounds.

Ending the need to cater for the Maltese community as a separate entity is being seen in other parts of communication. You don’t find many translations of government materials into Maltese, as the majority of the Maltese speaking population either read English or have close relatives that do.

As the Maltese newspaper closes, however, many others are starting up. The past two years have seen a number of multicultural newspapers start to meet the needs of newer communities such as Somali, Thai and Korean.

The birth and retirement of multicultural newspapers is an interesting one to watch, as it gives a good indication of the levels of integration within the Australian community. It can also give you a strong insight into how these communities need to be communicated to.

Goodbye to The Maltese Herald and well done.