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Focus on Barbados

VitalStatistics

Population: 287,733
Monetary unit: Barbados dollar
Capital city: Bridgetown
Major languages: English
Major religions: Protestant 63.4% (Anglican 28.3%, Pentecostal 18.7%, Methodist 5.1%, other 11.3%), Roman Catholic 4.2%, other Christian 7%, other 4.8%, none or unspecified 20.6%
Ethnic composition: black 93%, white 3.2%, mixed 2.6%, East Indian 1%, other 0.2%
Age breakdown: 0-14 years: 18.8%, 15-64 years: 71.2%, 65 years and over: 10%
Life expectancy: male: 72.25 years, female: 76.82 years
Education: 6.7% of GDP
Urban/Rural split: urban population: 44%, rural population: 56%
Income per household (USD):
Broadband internet users (%):

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Introduction

The Barbadian economy is heavily reliant on luxury tourism, and so was negatively affected by the global recession of 2009, contracting by 4%. Since then its economy has stabilised but struggled to recover, posting growth of just 0.2% and 0.4% in the past two years.

Yet the island remains one of the strongest economic players in the region, and as multinationals look for new markets to replace the saturated and stagnated regions of North America and Western Europe that have been their traditional markets, so more and more of them will look to emerging regions like the Caribbean, and this bodes well for Barbados's economy. 

As for the PR industry, it remains dominated by small, local players, and is yet to attract the attention of any of the major global groups. But it is making an attempt to become more professional. A growing number of entrants to the industry have gained a degree in PR from the Barbados Community College. A significant recent achievement was the formation of a Barbados Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

One agency boss says: “This is a great achievement and one which will lead to a major strengthening of the industry.  Many practitioners, especially the recent entrants, are qualified to graduate degree level; so we're highly articulate and educated but I believe the professional certification will further bolster the quality of the work we do.”


Media

Most agree that Nation Newspaper is the country's leading print title. Other important players are Barbados Advocate, which is the island's oldest newspaper and the much more recent entrant, Barbados Today, which is the island's first online-only newspaper. 

The lone television station is the Caribbean 

Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)and the Business Report on its Channel 8 Evening News is well regarded. The CBC also operates radio stations but its main competitor is the STARCOM Network owned by One Caribbean, a media company in Trinidad and Tobago.

Major Brands

Furthermore, both the public sector and international aid organisations remain very prominent in this, an economy that was until just a decade ago still dependent on sugar cane. For example, the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team (BPSTT) recently ran a campaign, administered by the Caribbean Development Bank and paid for by the UK's Department for International Development. 

Joel Richards, Trade Consultant at the BPSTT, says: “Many Barbadian firms were missing out on many opportunities overseas simply because they had incomplete information about the trade agreements our nation has in place, and we wanted to change that.”



So, the team met many Barbadian PR agencies and selected SFA Communications to run a programme that encompassed website redesign, the re-introduction of a quarterly newsletter, the development of marketing collateral, media training for BPSTT staff, and a media campaign across print, radio and television. 

Richards says: “The campaign ran for 15 months and it resulted in a noticeable increase in the amount of time the Barbados press dedicated to trade issues Perhaps the best example was a reporter from the Nation Newspaper referring to the BPSTT and its Trade Consultant as ‘an expert’ in the area of Barbados’ trade relations.” 


Agencies

One industry insider comments: “There has been a considerable shift in the industry towards integration of PR and advertising services.  Most of Barbados's advertising agencies offer PR services, and specialist PR practitioners like ourselves are bringing on board advertising experts in order to in order to broaden our service offerings.”

The leading local agencies are SFA Communications, Al-Hart PR, Virgo Communications, and PR Plus. More recent entrants of note include Clearly Content Communications, G&A Communications and PRMR.

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