Wonky public relations, an internal flagship holy war and some biscuits

Adil Ray. Image via BBC.

When the flags go down at the flagship, you know something is wrong.

Well, that’s apparently what’s going down at the primer [South] Asian radio station in the UK.

BBC Asian Network’s morning host, Adil Ray, is apparently receiving death threats from Sikhs who believe that he insulted their culture on air. The actual show has since been pulled from the “listen back” feature on the website.

According to the Telegraph in the UK, it went down like this:-

The BBC were forced to remove a show from their website after Adil Ray, a popular Muslim presenter, received threats from Sikh listeners who accused him of denigrating one of their religious symbols.

The row centres around a show broadcast earlier this month in which Ray discussed a Punjabi music concert in Canada where police had banned a number of Sikhs who refused to remove their “kirpan” dagger.

Looks like the BBC Asian Network has a civil war of their own kind going on. Well, that’s what this is when you  really look at it:-

• The primer Asian radio station in the UK
• Listeners are mostly Asian
• Asian-specific programming
• An Asian-Muslim host in the middle
• Apparently stuck in the middle against his own (there is Punjab in Pakistan, btw) kind

Sounds a bit messy and blown out of proportion in my opinion. But then again, that’s just my opinion…

What say you?

Dear BBC,

If I were the head of Public Relations for the BBC Asian Network this what I would:-

Offer an on-air apology and explanation

First things first, be civil and explain your side of the story. That’s journalism 101, that’s being an adult – and it’s what you have to do.

Sure this was already done, but umm seriously…if I’m hearing about it in the US (still) you didn’t do something right.

As the BBC, you are publicly funded – don’t anger the hand that feeds you and has the power to take away your food aka some of your money.

Invite/create a new series that talks about racism and why certain things seem racist to some groups, while harmless to others.

I know you British look at us as the colony that got away and basically ruined your good tea. But for once in the history of post-colonialism and the world – listen to us (not how Tony Blair did with W.) and take some advice from our current leader, President Obama; do what we did.

If I ran your public relations department, I have three words for you: Obama’s Happy Hour aka “Chai Hour.”

Learn your lesson

Well, word on the internet street says that this isn’t the first time Sikhs have been angry with the BBC Asian Network. Less than a month prior, a cultural media monitoring organization called the BBC out on another one of Ray’s segments on his show.

The thing is, whether you consider it a big deal or not, is beside the point.

Your audience = listeners = rates = revenue = your survival.

Radio via TiViD in DeviantArt

Figure out who you are

Yes, I know you are the BBC Asian Network and you are a sector of one of the BEST news organizations on the planet. But you are the BBC Asian Network, not the BBC. Most of all, you are publically funded. But just because your competition doesn’t really hold a candle to you and just because you are the 800 lbs. gorilla, doesn’t make you invincible.

I would sit down and try to figure out what sets you apart. If you really wanted to know, I could tell you – but then you’d have to hire me 🙂

Social Media! (my favourite thing ever)

Think of it like this: I “listen” to your station, you “listen” to my opinion. You “articulate” your content, I “articulate” my thoughts on your content. I “suggest” because I want to keep listening, you “implement” because you want me to keep listening.

By developing and detonating an integrated plan of engagement, it will enable you to maintain a critical amount of control, integrity and perfectly aimed level communication…near perfect anyway.

BBC Asian Network you seem to have scrapped your knee. Let me put it to you this way, if read about you on my Twitter feed, and you showed up instantly on news.google.com, therefore meaning, I didn’t have to “search” to find out about this ‘issue’ – yes, you have made a boo-boo.

But NOT irrevocably.

On a last note, hey, BBC America, since I live in the U.S. – I think you should hire me 🙂

Sincerely,

Me xx.

Adil Ray. Image via TV Scoop for the BBC.

On another note — I ask, could this be one giant misunderstanding?

 A giant  cultural, media misunderstanding?

One more question for you — should public radio be regulated?

I mean seriously folks, we are talking about the guy who used to do breathing impressions on his late night show, is known of his sense of humor, created MC Raa and can even make fun of himself and his religion. He’s done serious interviews in the likes of Desi DNA and there is a reason he was moved from late night broadcasts to the early morning show.

Case and point, see below (BTW, when watching the clip below, keep in mind that Adil Ray is Muslim):-

Get my drift?

–

Sasha Muradali runs the ‘Little Pink Book’ . She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami(’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima.

Copyright © 2009 SashaH. Muradali. All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. laurenfernandez says:

    A big part of this is culture, third world countries and a religious aspect. Many times, an apology isn't enough. They hear words, but don't see actions. They can apologize until they are blue in the face, but PR 101 won't work on this one. It has to be specific to the case.

    I'm not sure if an 'Obama Happy Hour' would work here either. Again, it's a culture thing. They might take offense to it. Outside the U.S. and select European countries, they would take offense to this. That's not an apology to them.

    It's a fine line, and it might seem to be blown out of proportion, but we have to remember that not everyone lives the same style as us.

  2. I think a huge part of it is culture — but I also think that sitting down
    and talking with them would work…to a particular degree.

    One of the reasons it was blown so highly out of proportion was the watchdog
    media network. Now if that organization had a person sit down and talk with
    maybe other religious experts etc., on air w/ the same host — I think that
    would be productive. The BBC has programs like this anyway already in place,
    so to modify an existing format to combat an issue is less work on their
    part.

    I don't think it should be alcohol however, I think a tea or “chai” hour
    would be better = Chai Hour.

  3. Yes, embrace it. Always works.

  4. Varmanator says:

    Yes, I think Chai and Chatting would work 🙂
    But I think the bigger issue here is that Sikhs don't feel understood in the one place where they should feel understood, comfortable and valued the most. I think BBC Asian Network should take steps to not only smooth the tension, and cultural insensitivity, but also to make more Sikh friendly programming, or even a sikh radio personality…

  5. Coming from the UK, this is an area that has sorely been misunderstood for years. It doesn't help that the UK is inherently quite a racist country. Not everyone; but it's one of the countries with the most issues whenever you read multi-national reports.

    Yes, it may be that Adil is Muslim but just the very fact he is a Muslim will upset people. Then you have those that just want to challenge the establishment, so any chance they have will be jumped on.

    I don't think there's an easy answer to this. When a country tries to adopt a multi-ethnical approach and fail miserably with their “own” inhabitants before inviting anyone else in, you're simply asking for the torch to be lit.

  6. That's an really insightful POV. Are race relations really that bad? I
    didn't know that, well I did — but I thought it evolved from say the riots
    of the 1980s.

    But I just wonder about the issue on the whole, because it really struck me
    as a giant misunderstanding, I think the BBC, itself, could have avoided it
    all together had they paid more attention.

    Then the clean up doesn't seem very smooth either. It's a misunderstanding
    with poor PR.

    But you are right, I suppose this is one of those cases that unless you
    where “there,” maybe you don't really know what the solution would be.

    Thanks Danny 🙂

  7. That's an really insightful POV. Are race relations really that bad? I
    didn't know that, well I did — but I thought it evolved from say the riots
    of the 1980s.

    But I just wonder about the issue on the whole, because it really struck me
    as a giant misunderstanding, I think the BBC, itself, could have avoided it
    all together had they paid more attention.

    Then the clean up doesn't seem very smooth either. It's a misunderstanding
    with poor PR.

    But you are right, I suppose this is one of those cases that unless you
    where “there,” maybe you don't really know what the solution would be.

    Thanks Danny 🙂

  8. That's an really insightful POV. Are race relations really that bad? I

    didn't know that, well I did — but I thought it evolved from say the riots

    of the 1980s.

    But I just wonder about the issue on the whole, because it really struck me

    as a giant misunderstanding, I think the BBC, itself, could have avoided it

    all together had they paid more attention.

    Then the clean up doesn't seem very smooth either. It's a misunderstanding

    with poor PR.

    But you are right, I suppose this is one of those cases that unless you

    where “there,” maybe you don't really know what the solution would be.

    Thanks Danny 🙂