By Imani Smith
Diversity and inclusion are not synonymous. Diversity refers to the differences in human demographics, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age and physical abilities. Inclusion is a culture and environment that is collaborative, supportive and respectful for all. Inclusion and diversity can no longer be run by solely the HR department. These important efforts need to be integrated into public relations, business plans and content creation. Here’s are four ways to create inclusive and diverse content marketing.
Delve into Your Audience
Although brands should have respect for everybody, inclusion in marketing doesn’t always mean brands need to market to all demographics. People who identify as men don’t need to be the prime audience for perfume just like college students would not be the primary audience for homeowner’s insurance. But brands should frequently research their audience. By looking at the available data, brands will be able to create marketing that reaches an ever growing audience.
Document your audiences, race, gender, geography, etc. Send brand team members out to industry events and coordinate focus groups in part to better understand the “why” of your target audience. This will help brands track data that isn’t as easily tracked, like point of view and physical ability.
Consider your Team
Can you look around your workplace and find faces and backgrounds that are representative of your target audience? If the answer to this question is no, then it is time to begin to ask yourself how you can become a more inclusive brand. One of the biggest risks to a company’s reputation is tone deaf or offensive marketing. It is incredibly important for the brand team to be inclusive to avoid making a mistake that only someone outside of a demographic could make. However, gender and racial representation are still low in the industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ethnic makeup of the PR industry in the U.S. is 87.9% white, 8.3% African American, 5.7% Hispanic American and 2.6% Asian American. Although some progress has been made in advancing women in the PR industry to leadership positions, the pay gap between men and women in PR is $6,000 on average. A team that includes more people of color, women, LGBTQA communities and disabled communities will be able to create content that reaches each community in a sensitive and accessible way.
Tailor Editing for Inclusivity
In order to ensure that text, content, and verbiage reflects inclusion, writers and editors should be required to drop all beliefs and preconceived notions. Prepare writers and content creators to do the necessary research and fact checking before they even begin to write or produce content for the target audience. This could eliminate brands from potentially losing followers or subscribers due to something that could've been avoided by bias checking prior to publishing. The National Center on Disability and Journalism guide “covers general terms and words on physical disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, mental and cognitive disabilities and seizure disorders.” Creating content that everyone can view is not only good for business but it is also ethically correct. Making your brand visible and accessible to people with disabilities alerts the visible minority group that they are not only welcome but included.
Don’t Over Do It
On the other hand, brands can make the mistake of over communicating that they are a diverse company rather than simply being one. If you have to over explain your diversity and “prove it” to your audience you run the risk of offending and losing parts of your target audience. Cultural appropriation is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” It is incredibly important to make sure your content is reflective of sincere and genuine efforts to diversity and inclusion in a way that is authentic to your brand and, more importantly, your audience.
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