Two things have got me thinking this week. 1. A programme on radio 4 about the South African national anthem Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa and 2. Yorkshire Day.

In fact, I heard one whilst travelling to the other.  Over the weekend I have been involved in a celebration of truly epic proportions with a friend and her family (incidentally thanks Alan and Fran, the weekend was immense!) The weekend revolved around a Yorkshire Vs the rest o’t’ world golf tournament Ryder Cup style, but was, essentially, an excuse for an enormous drinking fest.

It was hard and fast proof that anyone who predicted the demise of regional identity as technology shrank the world was dead wrong. In reality, localism is back on the agenda, in the news, in politics and, increasingly, in business.  As non-London financial centre grow in importance so does the importance of the business’ that service these areas. PR doesn’t seem to be following this de-centralising model which, as northern PR person, excites me. The regional economies are growing faster than London and the South East and cities like Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow are outstripping the regions. I’m sure this is nothing new to London PR agencies, and I’m sure that they think that they won’t have a problem dealing with regional clients from London but what I’m not sure about is whether London “gets” the regions, (It certainly doesn’t get Yorkshire.)

The other thing that got me thinking – Nkosi Sikelel I’Africa, is kind of linked to this. The lyrics were originally in Xhosa closely followed by a version in Zulu. As an “African” song, it became the unofficial anthem of the ANC and a protest song against apartheid symbolising the fierce determination for change. After the end of the regime it became the national anthem of South Africa and became a prayer for peace and reconciliation. Two things struck me about the programme. Firstly, how quickly the symbolism changed and secondly, how culturally specific the symbolism was. A song which represented one thing to one culture represented something completely different to another culture within the same country.

Without getting into regional stereo types, what kind of regionally specific symbolism do we have? And what does that mean for PR? We understand the importance of culture in international PR but how do we deal with this new localism when working within the bounds of our own country? These are questions we will have to start answering before too long.

Answers on a post card please.

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