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Focus on Trinidad & Tobago

VitalStatistics

Population: 1,226,383
Monetary unit: Trinidad & Tobago Dollar
Capital city: Port of Spain
Major languages: English (official), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), French, Spanish, Chinese
Major religions: Roman Catholic 26%, Protestant 25.8% (Anglican 7.8%, Baptist 7.2%, Pentecostal 6.8%, Seventh-Day Adventist 4%), Hindu 22.5%, Muslim 5.8%, other Christian 5.8%, other 10.8%, unspecified 1.4%, none 1.9%
Ethnic composition: Indian (South Asian) 40%, African 37.5%, mixed 20.5%, other 1.2%, unspecified 0.8%
Age breakdown: 0-14 years: 19.5%, 15-64 years: 71.8%, 65 years and over: 8.7%
Life expectancy: male: 68.81 years, female: 74.6 years
Education: NA
Urban/Rural split: urban: 14%, rural: 86%
Income per household (USD):
Broadband internet users (%):

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Introduction

Oil and natural gas may have made Trinidad and Tobago one of the richest countries in the Caribbean, but it has left this country of 1.5 million people heavily dependent on that industry. 

Carlos Cardenas, Deputy Head of Latin America Forecasting at economic forecasting firm Exclusive Analysis, says: “Its economy is not well diversified, and it is a source of concern that recent problems in supply of natural gas have led to the cancellation of several high profile foreign investment projects.”

He continues: “These have included a $5.3 billion petrochemical plant that Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) and China's Sinopec were building, a $600 million aluminium plant project led by state firm Alutrint and Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Votorantim, as well as a $150 million contract with UK firm BAE Systems to build three offshore patrol vessels.”

These embarrassing cancellations have contributed to fairly poor recent economic figures: inflation is high at around 5%, in 2011 the country's GDP shrank by around 1.5%. 

As for the PR industry, it exists but it is by no means large or sophisticated. Insiders report that too few companies recognise the value of PR, but at the same time there are many lucrative Government accounts available. In the same way, the Public Relations Association of Trinidad and Tobago may be dormant, but there are nonetheless several good PR consultants available to brands looking to build a reputation in this market.

Media

There is a well-populated and free media in Trinidad & Tobago. The ratings giant is Caribbean Communications Network which owns TV6, the most popular television station as well as the Trinidad Express. The state-owned Caribbean New Media Group operates C TV on 

television and Talk City 91.1 on radio.

Other important print titles include the daily newspapers Newsday, Trinidad Guardian, and Catholic News. Other radio stations of note are Radio 90.5, Ebony 104, WeFM and i95.5 FM.

Major Brands

Mobile phone providers and operators BMOBILE and DIGICEL have become key components of the Trinidadian community and they roll out successful PR campaigns throughout the year. Finance providers Republic Bank and First Citizens Bank are also worthy of note for their PR work, as is insurance firm Sagicor.

However in recent months it is government departments and NGOs which have really been leading the way in PR. Industry insiders point to “Arrive Alive”, an NGO which was set up to fight against the use of alcohol when driving, and which has  been particularly effective at gaining media coverage. 

Laura Asbjornsen is a Strategic Communications and Special Projects 

Advisor at the Ministry of Housing and the Environment. She describes a typical public sector campaign: “Around six months ago the Ministry had a crisis on its hands regarding the management of an area in North Trinidad which is home to the endangered Leatherback Turtle. We ran a full PR campaign to manage the media crisis not only locally but also internationally.”

She continues: “Since then, work has begun on a total re-branding of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is only recently that Trinidadian citizens have become actively interested in sustainability and conservation, and so we are running a full PR and social media campaign looking to tap into and develop this.”


Agencies

The global PR groups are not present in Trinidad & Tobago. In fact there are no local PR agencies to speak of. For the most part PR services are provided by Caribbean-wide PR agencies, independent consultants such as Demming

Communications, or advertising agencies like Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi, McCann Erickson, Ross Advertising, Valdez and Torry International, CMB Limited, Pepper Advertising and RAW Advertising.

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