Engaging diverse audiences through inclusive communication benefits everyone
29 April 2021 at 8:18 am
It’s smart business to know how to communicate to diverse audiences – it’s also great for social cohesion, write Jen Sharpe from Think HQ and Jessica Billimoria from CultureVerse.
As we all know, in March 2020, COVID happened and there was a need for all levels of government to speak to everyone at once – with great urgency.
Unfortunately, there was a big barrier in place.
The customary model of communicating to the “mainstream”, and then “diverse” audiences – was not going to work.
COVID has highlighted the need for inclusive communications – which means the ability to speak to everyone in the community all at once.
Inclusive communications is about recognising the “diverse” audiences and bringing them into mainstream campaigns. “Diverse” audiences includes multicultural audiences, which is the focus of this article, but it also includes First Nation audiences, rural and regional, plus accessibility audiences.
The argument for working more closely with multicultural audiences
It’s pretty simple really. Also referred to as the CALD audience, we know that around 21 per cent of all Australians speak another language at home. So, if you don’t know how to reach this audience, then realistically, you’re potentially missing out on speaking to a fifth of your audience every time you communicate.
So, it’s smart business to know how to communicate to diverse audiences, but equally as important – it’s also great for social cohesion. We need to break down the barrier of “mainstream” and “diverse”, because we as a country are diverse – we always have been.
Translations vs localisation
Language translation is often a positive first step towards inclusive communications, but it’s important to understand the difference between translation and localisation.
Translation is the literal translation of one word or phrase into another language. Localisation is about translating the meaning of a message, not just the words themselves.
For example, when writing a health campaign, you might refer to a “stabbing pain”, because it conveys an experience, and the seriousness, more evocatively than just saying “acute injury” or similar.
But if you literally translated those two words, “stabbing” and “pain”, you’d be inadvertently telling some audiences about an accident caused by a knife!
Localisation is also about contextualising content for local audiences – and that’s where community engagement is important.
Include the community in your campaign planning and testing
For any in-language communication, we recommend two things:
- Do things with communities, not for them.
- Check your messages with the audience.
Our work is informed not only by a network of accredited NAATI translators, but our relationships with local multicultural community leaders and influencers.
Every product we create is not only translated but checked for cultural context and accuracy – all by people who understand the people we’re reaching.
If you want to learn more about how inclusivity can enhance your communication efforts – and why it makes good business sense, join our masterclass on 6 May.