The Zeitgeist and Cultural Nuances: Market Leadership through Leveraging the Spirit of the Culture

CEO Elon Musk, a part of the team that comprises Space X (an aerospace company), has developed a cult following of people interested in private space travel. Making the much talked about fantasy of interplanetary travel into a viable reality, Musk is at helm of one of the most innovative, defining companies to date, and in the process, becoming a visionary of this era. 

How did Musk build this business idea into a profitable venture?

He understood the culture of this industry and his following. Great ideas abound in this era where technology almost acts as catalysts for invention. However, behind every ingenious idea is the buzz that changes thought into action, a buzz created by culture.

When talking about culture, what do we mean?

In an academic sense, culture refers to a group of people with similar values, experiences and rituals, but for all intents and purposes, a culture makes up a group of individuals with a shared consciousness. Culture always shapes our attitudes and actions.

More than being aware of other cultures, understanding cultural nuances can open up opportunities for dialogue, a big part of developing two-way relationships with publics as a part of public relations.

This dynamic plays out in a number of ways through the number of cultural nuances professionals might encounter globally.

For example, some businesses are founded on the basis of friendships made before even entering into any partnerships. In addition to friendships, some cultures insist on developing business connections as a part of protocol. Other cultures insist that, as a part of engaging in business, gifting (giving gifts from favorite places) is a part of the relationship.

Another cultural nuance that shows up in the business arena is related to time where in some countries time is a little more flexible. As opposed to starting a meeting on time, some cultures might start way past the scheduled time, and everyone involved understands.

Dress is probably another nuances that depends on culture. In some cultures, appropriate dress code requires professional dress for business events while in the IT industry dressy casual is probably as professional as it gets.

Ultimately, these nuances that make up culture form the foundation of business, but more importantly, they can really influence a public relations campaign.

How can understanding cultural nuances impact public relations?

The whole point of public relations for organizations is to inform, persuade, and through dialogue, create long-term, two-way business relationships between or among publics. By understanding cultural nuances, organizations keep the lines of communication open, and more significantly, avoid turning off, shutting out, or completely shutting down possible business relationships.

One great example of this comes from President Donald Trump….

Trump is widely known as an entrepreneur who has engaged with many publics garnering support for a number of business ventures. Over the years, the public has come to know Trump in many roles.

  • The real estate magnate. In addition to the Trump Towers, he has been involved in many ventures that established him as a household name in the American psyche. One of his earliest ventures defined the type of public person he has become. He earned positive buzz after being integral in re-opening the nostalgic Central Park’s Wollman Rink. The rink, originally opened in 1949, inspires a certain sentimentality for New Yorkers. Press describes his participation in re-opening the rink as a defining moment in his career because, on a grass roots level, he understood the import of the rink to New York culture. As a result, he received positive press for re-establishing a community landmark.
  • The boxing host. Boxing is one of America’s most loved sports, and while boxing has always held a certain popularity, Trump reportedly changed the tempo for this sport by hosting highly publicized bouts in his Atlantic City Trump Plaza. This strategy was very important because boxing has been traditionally seen as being attractive to working class and urban publics. More than being just some rich guy with large pockets, Trump capitalized in name recognition alone by connecting to communities through engaging with its members through sport.
  • The television host. The Apprentice had to be one of the most watched reality shows ever. More important than the weekly drama and the anticipation at waiting to see who would get the ax next, Trump established a viewership, primarily made up of Middle America, a viewership who stayed with him long after the show’s finale.

Ultimately, Trump tapped into the cultural nuances of multiple publics to create relationships that established him as a household name.

On a public relations level….

On a grassroots level, Trump set the public relations platform long before his candidacy for president. By reaching out to different communities, from the wealthy to the working class and everything in between, Trump established relationships that probably played a role in helping him win the election.

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