To say the world has been facing “unprecedented times” is a huge (and often over-used) understatement. With societal tensions at an all-time high, communication professionals can help ease the pressure with thoughtful, public relations campaigns focused on inclusivity. With Juneteenth and Pride Month coming up, how can PR firms reach out to and support the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities? Go beyond hashtags and corporate statements on your website with these fresh, thoughtful ideas:
Start at Home
While holding a diversity-first initiative in the office is great, one-off, flash-in-the-pan efforts are not enough. Talk to your manager about what your team can do to further incorporate inclusivity at the internal level. Perhaps your company can focus on more diverse recruitment practices. Increased diversity in teams results in increased diversity in potential pitches.
Take a look at the Diversity and Inclusions Wheel for PR Practitioners the next time you’re strategizing. Developed by researchers Gina Luttrell and Adrienne Wallace, the wheel assists communication pros in making informed, diversity-first decisions when brainstorming campaign ideas. The wheel goes beyond typical demographics such as race, gender and age, offering additional population subsets to consider when targeting unique, multidimensional groups. For instance, the wheel’s 17 subcategories include things such as recreational habits, military experience, learning styles, and political beliefs – all important factors when creating a public relations plan. The more you use the wheel, the less you’ll need it: with repeated use, you’ll build strong, long-lasting habits and thinking about the wheel’s various spokes will become second nature.
Skittles has repeatedly missed the mark with its limited-edition Pride Month packaging; an all-white bag emblazoned with the words, “During Pride, only one rainbow matters. So we’ve given up ours to show support.” In an attempt to embrace the LGBTQIA+ community, the campaign backfires: releasing an all-white candy during Pride screams racism. Avoid this kind of blunder by taking intersectional population segments into account. Each consumer is unique and may fit into multiple social groups, so make sure that’s reflected in your campaigns. In the case of Skittles, the Black community was overlooked, resulting in a tone-deaf message.
Honor LGTBQIA+ and Black Pioneers
There’s no shortage of diverse leaders in every industry, but they are frequently overlooked for their white, straight, cisgender cohorts. Celebrate these trailblazers by including them in your upcoming communications strategy. For instance, say you’re creating a campaign for a video game client. You could share photos or inspiring quotes from Ken Coleman, the first black executive in Hewlett Packard’s IT department. Or perhaps your Unix client can contribute an article profiling Mary Ann Horton, a transwoman who helped develop Usenet in the 1980s.
Now more than ever customers are paying attention to diversity and inclusion. The fight for equality isn’t a trendy topic, has been around for years, and will continue to play a large part in our society. A lack of inclusivity alienates potential consumers – ignore it and your client could lose out on potential customers and media placement.
For more information and ways to support today’s important social movements, check out Ed2010’s Ultimate Guide to the Media Industry’s POC Organizations and Communities. Or take a look at the resources and organizations below:
• American Civil Liberties Union
• A New LGBTQ Workforce Has Arrived – Inclusive Cultures Must Follow (Boston Consulting Group)
• Bridging the divide: A multidisciplinary analysis of diversity research and the implications for public relations (Institute for Public Relations)
• GLAAD Media Reference Guide
• National Association of Black Journalists
• NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
• Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
• Pride at Work
• Research Readout: What the Data Says About Accelerating Change for Black Employee Experiences (Institute for Public Relations)
• The Transgender Training Institute