It's high time PR learned to 'speak Muslim'

When Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah, a devout Muslim, was substituted with a suspected knock during the Champions League semi-final win against Manchester City, it wasn't long before a meme was running wild in social space.

Does your firm speak Muslim? asks Razi Hassan.
Does your firm speak Muslim? asks Razi Hassan.

It depicted an anxious looking Jurgen Klopp embracing his prize asset with the caption "are you injured", to which Salah replied, "no boss, I went to read maghrib".

Similarly, on the terribly inauspicious occasion of the inaugural and hopefully only ever ‘Punish a Muslim Day’, British Muslims did what Brits do best.

I was sent the same tweet from a number of different people: "just filled up the lota with ice cold water for the next man. #punlishamuslimday"...

Confused? Well you have every right to be, unless you’re a Muslim, or thoroughly versed on Muslimy things.

So let me break it down - the eagle-eyed memer noted that Salah’s substitution occurred at the same time as the Muslim evening prayer known as maghrib - very clever.

And in the second example, the ritual partial ablution, or purification that Muslims perform before praying involves the washing of ones posterior using a small plastic vessel known as a lota - suffice to say that of the very few things that makes me shriek, ice cold water on the bum is one.

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With an estimated four million Muslims making up the UK population, and one in three under the age of 15, understanding the subtle nuances that click with this demographic has never been more important.

Today, Muslims in the UK include our most loved athletes, gastronomists, musicians, entertainers, academics, business people, journalists, political leaders, and much more - essentially some of the most influential influencers out there.

So, are we ready as an industry to connect with this consumer and take advantage of an opportunity to the tune of £20 billion?

Well, "no" is the simple answer, but it’s also not too late.

The first thing that any smart agency or brand must do is realise that what you are dealing with is not a ‘Muslim consumer’, rather it’s a consumer that happens to be Muslim - there really isn’t that much difference.

So, if there isn’t much difference then what’s the point? I hear you ask.

In an age where brands are on the prowl for a sniff of competitive advantage, making an effort for the consumer that happens to be Muslim can deliver just that.

Second, having a strategy or plan in place isn’t enough; the most critical component is talent. It’s not rocket science, if you want to reach out to Muslims, get some on board.

PR remains the realm of the middle-class, white graduate - that has to change.

In contrast, journalism, broadcast media and other creative industries have done a far better job in attracting diversified talent, with numerous notable examples.

It's my dream to mention PR in a dinner conversation with others from a BAME background

Get the equation right and what can you expect?

For as long as I can remember I’ve brought my meat and poultry from one of a number of local butchers.

A year ago my local ASDA opened up a halal counter, supported by a 360° marcomms campaign - they got my business.

Subsequently, they’re pushing the boat out for Ramadan, so why would I go anywhere else?

Razi Hassan is a PR consultant

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