Monetary unit: Jamaican Dollar
Capital city: Kingston
Major languages: English, English Patols
Major religions: Protestant 62.5%, Roman Catholic 2.6%, Other or Unspecified 14.2%, None 20.9%
Ethnic composition: Black 91.2%, Mixed 6.2%, Other or Unknown 2.6%
Age breakdown: 0-14 : 29.5%, 15-64 : 62.8%, 65+ : 7.7%
Life expectancy: Male 71.18, Female 75.15
Education: 5.8% of GDP
Urban/Rural split: Urban 52%, Rural 48%
Income per household (USD):
Broadband internet users (%):
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica
Jamaican may boast some of the world's fastest runners and beautiful beaches, but its economy is less of a success story. Unemployment is above 12%, government debt stands at £11.2bn, and its debt-to-GDP ration of around 130% is not far behind that of devastated Greece.
Yet, it received $1.27 bn from the IMF
in 2010, its tourism industry continues to grow, and it remains the world's largest exporters of aluminium ore – a product much in demand by its huge neighbour to the north.
As for the PR industry it is maturing rapidly. Klao Bell-Lewis, public and corporate affairs manager at Scotiabank
Jamaica, says: “More universities and other institutions are offering training than ever before. Every government agency now has a director or officer of communications, public relations or media relations.”
She continues: “In fact throughout Jamaican business and government there is now clear recognition of the importance of the role. In some organisations the PR function might still be seen as a subset of marketing with PR executives reporting into a head of marketing, but this is changing. In a growing number of organisations the communicator is dotted directly to the C-suite.”
This is reflected in the continued survival and activity of the Public Relations Society of Jamaica.
“Recent growth in media in Jamaica has meant more opportunities and channels to get the message out,” reports Bell-Lewis. “However, a few outlets still dominate. Print media continues to be highly supportive and responsive to PR pushes, while broadcast media is more resistant to channelled messages.”
The leading daily newspapers, are The Jamaica Gleaner
, The Jamaica Star
and the Jamaica Observer
. The leading weekly is the Sunday Herald.
The Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation was privatised in 1997, and is now Television Jamaica. The other major station is CVM TV
. Radio Jamaica Ltd
(RJR) operates RJR 94 FM, entertainment station FAME-FM, and music-based Hitz 92.
The Jamaican economy is heavily dependent on services, which now account for nearly 65% of GDP, and so financial services, led by ScotiaBank
and National Commercial Bank
, is an important sector. Digice
l and LIME
are popular in telecommunications, while in food and drink important players include Grace Foods
, Jamaica Broilers
, Caribbean Broilers
, Wray & Nephew
and Red Stripe
Scotiabank Jamaica recently ran a campaign supporting the work of the Centre for Marine Sciences at the University of the West Indies. Research there had shown that lionfish threaten to wipe out all the species which Jamaicans prefer to eat, posing a potentially major dietary and economic threat to the island.
So Scotiabank’s CSR and PR teams developed the tag line “Eat them to Beat Them”, donated a $4m research vehicle to the Centre for Marine Sciences, displayed live lionfish in branches as well as at its Annual General Meeting, and ran a series of sampling and educational events designed to counter the popular misconception that lionfish is poisonous to eat.
This resulted in significant coverage, and has succeeded in beginning to shift Jamaican opinions on the subject, so that many more are willing to eat it, it is available in many more restaurants, and the country has begun its fightback against this threat.
In the absence of any global PR groups in Jamaica, the island's industry has seen a fair bit of market fragmentation of late. While in the past Jamaica's PR industry was dominated by a few bespoke shops which managed the lion's share of the corporate and public sector business, now new technologies have allowed more people to set up on their own.
This has a good and bad side. As one industry insider says: “The strength of Jamaica's
PR industry is the sheer number of PR practitioners, but this is also its greatest
weakness. There is a lot of public relations work happening now - a lot of it really good - but there are also too many PR practitioners who are happy to do no more than get their clients’ photos in the paper.”
Two agencies of particular note are CGR Communications
and PRO Communications.