latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Red cross or cruz blanca?

The Red Cross, accused of being "too white," has launched an aggressive effort to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities as a way to add more of them as volunteers, according to an article in today's Washington Post.

Much of the latest attacks on the global charity come in response to criticism that it treated minorities callously, they didn't have translators and overlooked cultural sensitivities as it responded to the Hurricane Katrina destruction, the story reports. Some examples:

- Some minority groups complained that shelters were set up in white neighborhoods
- Black people said they were offended that Red Cross volunteers in the Houston Astrodome wore latex gloves.
- In Oklahoma, Hispanic community group volunteers who wanted to help translate were turned about because they didn't have Red Cross training

The Red Cross countered that most problems were issues of perception and not cultural insensitivity or racism. However, it's moving forward to change the "perception," for which they should be commended.

There is a formula of 1N = 3P in crisis communication This means 1 negative needs 3 positives just to neutralize it. I'm not suggesting we need 3 hurricanes where the Red Cross offers great support to minorities to overcome the perceived negatives of Katrina.

What I am suggesting is that they have a long way to go just to over come the perception ... because the other formula is that perception= reality.

I just hope they take a little time to strategize about how best to launch this marketing campaign and not just jump in head first. For example, they need to first understand the racial make ups of the areas they want to target for volunteers and study what motivates people of different ethnicities to volunteer. Only then can they launch a campaign that is not only relevant, but effective.

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