Distance Learning

Engaging Ethnic Media

Understanding Your Audience

What Is Cultural Competence?

The NCCC defines cultural competence as a developmental process that evolves over an extended period. Both individuals and organizations are at various levels of awareness, knowledge and skills along the cultural competence continuum (adapted from Cross et al., 1989).8
Cultural competence requires that organizations:

  • Have a congruent, defined set of values and principles and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally.
  • Have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3) manage the dynamics of difference, (4) acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and (5) adapt to the diversity and cultural contexts of communities they serve.
  • Incorporate the above into all aspects of policymaking, administration, practice and service delivery and systematically involve consumers, key stakeholders and communities.

The first step in any effective media outreach effort is identifying your audience. Are you trying to reach young parents, parents-to-be, elders, faith-based leaders? Once you’ve identified your key audiences, the next step is to become familiar with the main sources of news and information that your audience relies on. Not every member of the community can be reached in the same way. If you’re trying to educate ethnically diverse families, you’ll want to include ethnic media in your outreach efforts. For example, Spanish-language radio continues to be a powerful medium for engaging Hispanics/Latinos.

In many communities, the DJs on Spanish-language radio stations are highly trusted information sources for anything from health advice to marriage counseling. In many cases, engaging a mix of general market and ethnic media, as well as communicating in culturally and linguistically competent ways, is the most effective outreach strategy.
Identifying your key audiences can be challenging. Yet with limited resources, it’s critically important that you design outreach activities to reach a specific audience, rather than the general public.

Answer the following questions to help you identify your key audiences:

  • Who in your community is most affected by SUID?
  • Who in your community needs to know more about safe infant sleep so they can promote it?
  • Who in your community can help you spread the word about safe sleep promotion? Do you need to educate these audiences about safe infant sleep before they can become champions for your issue?

The next step is to learn about the media outlets your audience turns to for information about issues that matter to them. You may want to convene a small cross-section of your key audiences to discuss the following questions, or check in with some other community-based organizations that work directly with your audiences. For example, faith-based organizations are highly regarded as sources of information for many within ethnic communities.

Contact several in your community to help develop an effective outreach strategy to educate your shared constituencies about safe infant sleep. These questions can help guide your conversation and provide the information you need for your media outreach plan.

  • What media outlets do your audiences follow? Do your audiences prefer ethnic or general market media, or both?
  • Do these media outlets focus on a specific ethnic population? If so, what are the demographics of the audience the media outlet serves?
  • Is there a particularly popular radio or television program or media personality known for keeping people in your community informed about the latest news and health issues?
  • Do radio news programs feature interviews with local personalities, and are they appropriate forums to address potentially sensitive topics?
  • Are there journalists in your community who specialize in reporting on topics of ethnic and racial interest? Journalists with this focus can often be found at daily newspapers and larger online and print publications, and may be particularly interested in educating the community about safe sleep promotion among the community they cover.
  • Are there community publications that reach African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American and other ethnically diverse families, and are they considered credible sources of health information?
  • Is there a city- or neighborhood-specific website that features local happenings and user commentaries?
  • What reporters cover health issues of interest to ethnically diverse families?
  • Do community leaders or local media personalities blog about local happenings?
  • When sending information to the media, will you need to produce materials in English, Spanish or other languages for them to be useful to reporters?