Advertisers and politicians wrong to neglect ethnic media

Ethnic media play a key role in integration of immigrants in their new host countries, and help businesses grow, yet most of the time they are ignored by governments and businesses.

In a place like the US where the votes of immigrants can determine who finally gets to lead the country, the best way of reaching different ethnic communities is through ethnic media.

The US Federal Law requires States with big populations of immigrants to translate and print ballots and other voting materials in immigrants’ languages. An article in the New York Times shows that this is already happening in Nevada, San Diego County, Cook County in Illinois, etc.

These one-off translations however, are never enough. The best way of helping immigrants understand what’s written in these official, legal documents is through public awareness campaigns in ethnic media.

It is common to find serious translation mistakes in most of the official documents. At times the translations are perfect, but don’t serve the intended purpose because they are not done in words people use every day.

Advertising translation mistakes have also made many businesses lose out on customers.

Anyone keen on getting their message to ethnic minorities can’t afford to ignore ethnic media. This applies to all – businesses, politicians, governments, religious institutions, etc.

Major ad campaigns targeting immigrants have failed miserably because of mistakes in translation and use of wrong cultural symbols. It is also common sense that the right ad in the wrong place can’t lead to expected results.

Ethnic media should never be underrated.

By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a

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