I was recently at a foreign press event, where the majority of the media present was not only print, but also British.
I am not without my shyness and apprehension of walking into a crowd of strangers. But I have learned to get past it and move forward. I grabbed one of the drinks being served, searched to see who wasn’t too deep in conversation, and went in for the hello.
My target: a pair who silently sat sipping on their drinks.
“Hi! How are you? May I join you?” I said with confidence and a big smile.
Fast-forward into an hour of conversation when one of them felt comfortable enough to say, “You know, we were sitting here for a good hour without having anyone talk to us until you came and introduced yourself the way you did.”
“That’s so American,” said the other.
Of course, I took it as a compliment considering that we were having a lovely time, but felt compelled to correct them.
“Well, I can see how you would think that,” I responded. “But I actually like to think that my very friendly, outgoing personality is due to my Dominican heritage.”
And there it was. The moment where I took a generalization of who I am and turned it on its head, not to challenge, but to educate and inform. This was followed by a wonderful conversation on the Dominican Republic, my favorite dish, and whether I spoke Spanish fluently or not (Yes, I do. No, it’s not my first language. No, I was born in Brooklyn). In this moment, I stopped being a stereotype, or at least one stereotype, and revealed that culturally, I had many layers.
Turns out that we all do, but so few of us feel comfortable enough to share them in our storytelling or blogging, least of all when blogging for business.
Traditionally in media, the general rule for many of those in control of it is that the person in the front lines, be it in front of the camera or writing the lead stories, has to have a voice and a look that is “relatable”. However, despite our increasingly global environment, it’s been some time since the guidelines have been updated. We are finding that those who represent the media are relatable to a decreasing audience, leaving a much larger number without a voice or representation of any kind.
Many aspiring bloggers, or bloggers looking to breakout into a larger medium, fall prey to the ideology that being relatable means continuing to deliver an image, a style, and a voice that is homogeneous. Many agencies looking to please the brands they represent also often look for that safety net without venturing into diversity.
Because of this, few of us dare delve into the many cultural layers we all have that would not only make it much more fun to share our story, but also make us much more interesting to an increasing number of readers and consumers.
Because few have done it before, we are sometimes unwillingly to be the first ones for fear of rejection and marginalization.
Multiculturalism is a marketer’s worst nightmare because they rely so heavily on their demographical statistics for commercial outreach. Are you of color? LGTB? A mommy? A daddy? Hispanic? American? European? They need to put you in a market, so that they can better pitch you. But, it’s not how things work anymore. Especially in a world where one person can be all those things.
Dig deeper into the layers of your own multiculturalism and you will find a story that hasn’t been told in a way that only you can tell it .
So how to start? Well, you certainly can’t fake it, though chances are that in trying to be “media friendly” you’ve built a persona that isn’t as in tune with who you really are anyway. You’re going to have to break down those walls.
You can start with the following example questions: Which of your multicultural layers speak most strongly to you? How does your being a parent impact how you travel? How do you feel as a black person in China? What is it like to be a native Spanish speaker from the Caribbean trying to communicate in Spain? What experiences do you have as a Catholic in Saudi Arabia or a woman in India or an American in Europe?
All of these experiences impact how we see the world, how the world sees us, what we learn from it as travelers, and in turn how we tell our story to those who need to hear it the most. The beauty of it all is that we are never alone in how we identify, and there is always someone out there waiting to hear us, which in turn feels like they are being heard too.
Identify your multicultural layers, learn to balance your voice in a way that is both informative, fair, genuine, and honest, and you can successfully build a brand that is still relatable to many different people, both within and outside of your culture. You do have to be courageous, because going against the norm can be a scary thing. But I assure you there are tons of people out there who just can’t wait to meet you.
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Author Bio: Carol Cain is a former PR Pro turned award-winning travel and food blogger. At Girl Gone Travel, she enjoys sharing her adventures, with or without her beautiful family in tow, in the hopes of inspiring and motivating others to travel.
Originally from Brooklyn, Carol has studied and lived abroad, experiences that have nourished her wanderlust.
Her travel stories have appeared in publications for Forbes Travel Guide, American Airlines, G Adventures, and Lifetime Digital Media, as well as New York Family and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. She has appeared on broadcast outlets for both Spanish and English media, including Telemundo, CBS, NBC, and ABC.