When one thinks about culture, one usually thinks of art, music, literature, or social customs. But, it is more than that. It encompasses every part of one's life -- how we think, what we feel, or why we feel as we do. It is basically, "How we do things around here." It is so pervasive that is becomes invisible -- like the air we breathe. We pick it up, as if by osmosis, simply by living in the home we lived in, growing up in the country we grew up in, or being part of any particular social, ethnic, or religious group. It gradually seeps into our lives with each social contact and becomes part of the fabric of our being. It is powerful, pervasive, and prominent, yet invisible. That is, until, we run into someone of another culture or operate in another culture. This is when such differences become visible and sometimes, glaring.
Culture is important, especially in public relations, because as a field that is interested in creating "public relationships", understanding of culture helps us work with others, bridge our differences, and achieve common goals. Culture can be an impediment if we don't recognize that it is there and if we don't know how to deal with it
Canada needs to particularly be concerned with the effects of culture
Canada - A large country with many cultural groups
Canada is the second largest country in the world with respect to land mass. We have many long-standing cultural groups -- Anglophones, Francophones, and Indigenous Peoples, as the foundations of the area. Anglophones are those English-speaking Europeans who immigrated. Francophones are the French-speaking Europeans. Indigenous Peoples encompass the Inuit, Native Americans, and Metis (the product of the mixing of Native Americans and French-speaking populations). Each has its own culture -- and then are subcultures (cultures within those cultures).
Canada - A land of increasing immigration
Culture is a country of increasing immigration. According to the last census,
More Canadians are multilingual than before (besides French), reflecting Canada's increasing immigration (Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Arabic).
Arabic-speaking people have grown 30% since the last census
Canada continues to be a land of immigrants, with an increase in 2011-2016 period, representing about 1.2 million.
The top groups represented by immigration are Philippines, India, and China.
Additionally, the children of immigrants, as they grow up in Canada, develop their own mixed culture.
The basis of our misunderstandings with one another are not only tied to politics and social injustices, but a lack of understanding/appreciation for one another's cultures.
Culture and Public Relations
What is the future of public relations in Canada with respect to cultural implications? Will there be some dominant trends? Will culture affect practice and, if so, how? What does it mean to practice public relations in a multicultural society? What kind of practitioner will be needed to function in such an environment? Focus Communications of Markham, Ontario, represents an example of ethnic public relations, with the majority of its clients in the Asian market. It conducts business in 15 languages English, French, Chinese, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.
It is difficult yet to determine the impact of all these many ethnic markets on the field of public relations, particularly since PR crosses all sectors of society. However, one thing is certain, it is an area to keep an eye on; it is important to be attuned to the cultural differences around us, and, as "relationship builders", for PR practitioners to be aware of how an understanding of culture can go a long way towards the building of positive relationships.