Over the last year, the global pandemic has brought front and center a need that marketers already knew was there: diversity, equity and inclusion in public relations and advertising.
While consumers for years have called for greater inclusivity in the ads they see and the articles they read, the unexpected boom in streaming, social media and mobile use over the past year has created a deeper yearning for connectivity and equality by much of the world’s stuck-at-home population. The Black Lives Matter movement in turn encouraged audiences to seek and support brands that took a stand against racism, inequality and discrimination. Many brands responded. But there is still plenty of work to do, including:
- You rarely see a LGBTQIA couple kissing in a digital or TV ad spot. You see them sort of huddle on couches, but kissing? Hardly ever, if at all.
- Fifty years ago, PR was a male-dominated field. While strides have been made, a lot is the same. Journalists, meanwhile, are a very intelligent and diverse group. Imagine a white PR rep trying to pitch a journalist for the New York Times or the Washington Post to run a story about how a person of color might use a new social media app. It doesn’t make much sense.
- Along those lines, C-suite PR executives are also mostly white men, with the exception of the occasional woman or person of color as the CFO or CHRO — not the CEO.
- Mixed race couples and families began cropping up more frequently in ads just two short years ago. You read that right — only two years ago.
The thing is, consumers understand most households in 2021 look different than they did 30 years ago, whether that includes a lesbian couple, an Asian woman and her black husband, or a white man, a black woman and their biracial children, as examples. The same goes for newsrooms. Such audiences naturally expect the PR and advertising folks competing for their attention to listen and respond with campaigns that accurately and authentically represent the world they live in.
Once those steps are taken, marketers can immediately know what campaigns their digital audiences are responding to and how they react to inclusivity and diversity through tracking data and analytics. You couldn’t have accessed that information to gauge the success of a print ad in a magazine.
PR and advertising have certainly broken down many barriers that historically have plagued their respective industries. Growing up, I would have never witnessed diversity in advertising like what we see today. Agencies and brands should hire more diverse employees among their C-suite execs. If inclusivity can reach that level of leadership, marketers can really open up their doors and say to their audiences, “hey, we have a diverse crowd that can tell your story.” They’re already walking in their consumers’s shoes. For their part, streaming channels are trying to be reflective of society but again, more can be done. Let’s use this time as a launching pad for more.
Want to learn more about diversity in PR and advertising — not to mention the state of tourism, wine and hospitality amid the changing landscape of the pandemic? Check out episode 36 of the PR Wine Down podcast with special guest Brian Garrido, Marketing Department Specialist at Meticulous Design + Architecture (MD+A).