E(moji)speranto: Connecting the world, one colorful symbol at a time

See no evil hear no evil speak no evilOur world is more connected than ever, yet we still struggle to communicate. Especially in the Middle East, a region as linguistically diverse as a coral reef, reaching key stakeholders and media can be a daunting task. The competition for space is fierce, and with a heterogeneous audience, balancing your words and getting that phrasing just right is a complex task. It requires not only language skills, but cultural and social sensitivity and a keen awareness of trends.

An essential part of our jobs as communications professionals is using these skills to find new and creative ways to package news and announcements on behalf of our clients so that the message is as universal as possible. Some of you may remember Esperanto, a language designed to be a global auxiliary language, fostering peace and international understanding through political neutrality. While it’s still described as the world’s most widely spoken constructed language, a new player has now entered the stage and manage to succeed where its predecessor failed.

It’s called Emoji, and it is easy enough for anyone to learn. With 6 billion emojis sent on a daily basis, according to an estimation from Vyv Evans, professor of linguistics at Bangor University, it is taking center stage for modern online communication and defining a generation. Enough to see the crying-with-laughter emoji (officially called ‘Face with Tears of Joy’) announced as the 2015 word of the year by Oxford Dictionary.

As to be expected, 2015 saw some great PR campaigns using emojis to drive brand awareness:

  • Taco Bell managed to get the taco emoji added to the iOS emoji tray (complete game changer, btw) thanks to a PR driven petition on Change.org, and saw not only fantastic media coverage but the emergence of a taco loving community off the back of it
  • Aloft Hotels launched Text it. Get it. (TiGi), offering emoji room service to add an extra dimension to the hotel experience. While not technically a PR campaign, the media coverage around the new addition helped drive interest in the hotel and drove an online conversation about how to combine emojis to create a bigger message
  • Chevrolet wrote a press release entirely in emojis. That’s right. FleishmanHillard’s Chevrolet team in St. Louis conceptualized the #ChevyGoesEmoji campaign, and used the millennial generation’s favorite language to create engagement for the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze

This just goes to show that emojis have moved on from being a novelty to becoming a language that transcends geographical boundaries, allowing us to say more than words allow on their own. And the Middle East will not be left out of the conversation. The Apple 9.1 software update saw the addition of the mosque emoji, as well as the traditional prayer beads, or misbaha, and the Kaaba of Mecca, connecting tradition and modernity on the mobile stage. The task for public relations professionals in the Middle East in 2016 will be to toe the line between sticking to the tried and tested, and venturing out into a wonderful mobile world where our diverse audiences would rather you send them a carefully curated combination of colored pixels than a beautifully worded press release. Let’s get to work on that, shall we?

Emoji provided free by Emoji One