More Than A Campaign: Inclusion beyond the rainbow logo

By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Inclusive marketing has become a consumer expectation. And when companies, such as MAC Cosmetics, Levi Strauss & Co., and many others, have inclusive practices embedded into the fabric of their business, are proud to be a part of the progress toward equality, and are forces of change within the community, they will attract the right talent to deliver their brand message in an authentic way, fortify brand relevancy and drive sales.

“The best LGBTQ marketing or public relations campaign your brand can push is the authentic joy your employees feel while contributing their best selves at work,” said Yolanda Londono. Prior to retiring, London served as Tupperware’s former vice president of global responsibility.

Earlier this year, Londono spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Inclusion Incorporated Florida Regional Forum, an event created for businesses and partners to realize the full benefits of fostering LGBTQ inclusion.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of LGBTQ-inclusive practices on a company’s bottom line and its ability to attract and retain talent. To put it simply, diverse teams deliver superior results. Diversity is essential in marketing, but without an inclusive workplace culture, your message will seem inauthentic.

These days, consumers are looking for inclusion beyond rainbow logos and seasonal campaigns. They’re holding companies responsible for their hiring practices because they are looking to support companies that support its LGBTQ employees.

But despite significant progress, nearly 50% of LGBTQ workers nationwide remain closeted on the job, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s, A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide. The report also shared 31% of LGBTQ employees said they have felt unhappy or depressed at work, with many not reporting incidents because they did not think anything would be done to address it.

What efforts can companies take in order to create an LGBTQ-inclusive environment in the workplace?

Integrate diversity training programs depicting realistic scenarios, including those issues reflecting the LGBTQ community, to directly impact office behavior. These programs can be integrated into already existing diversity and inclusion programs and help build inclusivity from the core.

Create and enforce inclusive policies, and establish procedures for dealing with employees who violate your policies.

Ensure your employee benefits, such as health insurance or life insurance, does not exclude your LGBTQ employees.

Develop gender-transition resources and guidelines for your company’s transgender and gender non-conforming employees.

Become involved in the community by supporting or sponsoring local events, such as Pride parades and festivals, or participating in Spirit Day, an annual awareness day created as a sign of support for LGBTQ youth and to speak out against bullying.

The U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOUNDATION is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for businesses and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Londono’s advice within the public relations industry.

Why should diversity & inclusion matter to the public relations industry?

In honor of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Diversity Month, PRSA Orlando‘s D&I Committee asked its members about the importance of diversity to the industry. Check out what members had to say! #PRDiversity

PRSA Orlando’s October Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s October Newsletter.

How hip-hop culture can enhance your career as a communications professional

By Tyrone Law, PRSA Orlando D&I Committee Member

According to the 2019 Nielsen Music Mid-Year Report, the R&B and hip-hop genre is America’s preferred musical style, accounting for 26.5 percent of the total volume of all music consumption in the country. In turn, hip-hop culture influences many of the trends and key moments that engulfs society today. Having a working understanding of popular culture, which currently is heavily driven by hip-hop culture, can help communications professionals create more comprehensive and trendy campaign messaging, cultivate strategic partnerships and expand upon or introduce new target audiences.

Analyzing trends and predicting their consequences 

Throughout history, music has represented and influenced dominant societal movements that transcend race, gender, ethnicity, social or economic status, and sexual orientation. Hip-hop is no different. For example, “Same Love” by Macklemore and Mary Lambert, an American hip-hop song, tackled issues of LGBTQ rights and helped bring awareness to Washington Referendum 74, which eventually legalized same-sex marriage in Washington State. Other R&B and hip-hop influencers, including Childish Gambino, Beyoncé, 50 Cent and many more also have created songs and other content that sway American social norms, trends, language, and politics.  As a result of this growing trend, many brands are studying, embracing and implementing elements of hip-hop into marketing and communications.  A recent example comes from DoSomething.org, which recently teamed up with rapper Silento on its new anti-vaping campaign.

Strategic hip-hop partnerships and activations

A strategic partnership in the hip-hop space can build campaigns that speak appropriately to cultural nuances and resonate with audiences time and time again. This concept has already proven to be successful by several brand activations over the last five years. Some of the most memorable campaigns containing elements of hip-hop are Sprite and Drake, Mercedes Benz and A$AP Rocky, and General Mills and Travis Scott Reese’s Puffs cereal box collaboration. These examples and numerous more have resulted in millions of media impressions and hundreds of stories. The Pew Research Center projected that by the end of 2019, millennials will surpass baby boomers to become the largest living generation in the United States. It just so happens that this same demographic group (millennials) is also the top consumer of hip-hop music.

Embrace the hip-hop culture

Hip-hop culture is everywhere. Broadway has even embraced the genre.  Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is said to be one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time, holding the record for the most Tony Awards nominations. Communications professionals should immerse themselves in a diverse range of cultures. If you haven’t already, give hip-hop a try; watch hip-hop-themed movies; listen to a new hip-hop artist; hire someone who is more attuned with hip-hop culture to help inspire content and messaging that can bring your results to the next level.

PR campaigns should speak to what is manifested through popular clothing, art, attitude, style, music, video and language. Although culture is a revolving door of rapid changes, I’d bet hip-hop isn’t going to lose steam any time soon. Think critically on how to authentically implement this trend in your communications, and it just may lead you to that award-winning campaign or that promotion you’ve always wanted.

Editor’s note:  October is PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion month. This post supports the organization’s effort of recognizing the importance of continuing to create awareness of this essential topic, and to recommit ourselves to actively promoting change for the betterment of the industry. PRSA is devoted to building consciousness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices for racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender differences, as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets and cultures at all levels of the organization.

Fall is in the air. And so is PRSA’s best membership deal of the year!

Now through October 31, 2019 you have three big benefits to joining PRSA. In addition to our national PRSA membership (with no initiation fee, a $65 value), you will also receive a free section membership (a $60 value) and a free chapter membership (up to $100)!

Use the code FALL19 when applying for membership to receive:

  • PRSA National Membership: Access to more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals 24/7 via the members-only online community MyPRSA. Plus, you have access to dozens of other member benefits!
  • PRSA Chapter Membership: PRSA has more than 100 local groups across the United States, known as Chapters. These Chapters are run by local PRSA members who host networking and educational events to connect you to industry professionals and ensure you are staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends and skills. Check out the Orlando chapter’s upcoming events!
  • PRSA Section Membership: PRSA has 14 professional interest groups, known as Sections. Each Section focuses on a specific industry that public relations and communication professionals serve, and a few of the Sections are geared towards career level and business owners. Members of these Sections are able to connect with industry peers who have similar needs and share the same challenges. These groups share important and relevant information about their area of interest through a variety of channels throughout the year. Click here to view all 14 Sections.

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to Co-VP of Membership, Carter Flynn – cflynn@bdo.com

RESTRICTIONS: N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current/renewing members. Refer to http://www.prsa.org/joinus/howtojoin for details.

PRSA Orlando’s September Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s September Newsletter.

PRSA Orlando’s August Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s August Newsletter.

Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Emily Diez

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship. Our third student recipient is Emily Diez, a Miami resident who is expected to graduate in December 2019.

Why did you choose to major in communications?

I’m an advertising/public relations major and I chose to major in this field because I love the idea of communicating directly to consumers and being able to do so creatively. This major was the perfect fit!

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?

I have completed four internships and one of the biggest things I’ve learned was the importance of communication, asking questions and prioritizing. I’ve interned at the following organizations: Office of Student Involvement at UCF, GreenHouse Agency, Florida Cruise Ports and Dentsu Aegis Network in New York via the MAIP program.

What would you like to do professionally?

I would love to do some kind of marketing or advertising in the entertainment industry, especially in music. 

Diversity and inclusion must be business-driven to be successful

By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair

“If enhancing diversity and inclusion is not for the right thing, then do it for the business case,” said Deloria Nelson, President of Authentic Culture & Engagement Solutions.

Nelson consults with Fortune 500 companies on how to better their diversity and inclusion goals by developing customized workforce solutions for their teams. She likes to give company leaders the business case for why engaging diversity and inclusion matters—not just for people, but also for bolstering the company’s productivity, performance, and bottom line.

Once an executive team understands the business case, the Human Resources department typically takes the reins. But it takes more than implementing a new hiring policy to become a company with an inclusive culture.

“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be business-driven and integrated in the business culture, not just a standalone HR initiative,” Nelson said. “CEO support and transparency are critical to creating longevity and stickiness in company culture because it drives accountability and credibility.”

Nelson recently spoke to members of the Florida Diversity Council at its May program, sharing plenty of statistics and examples of how engaging in these practices will keep your company at pace with evolving needs for better workplace practices.

“We are living in a political era in which more companies are determining that they need to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts,” she explained. “But it is not political; it is a people thing.”

Nelson says it’s okay to be vulnerable when making decisions in diversity and inclusion engagement, as long you’re sincerely trying.

“Just be willing to take the risk—even if you make missteps along the way,” she advised.

She does, of course, recommend some important guidelines. Keep in mind this advice when evaluating your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

Be aware of unconscious bias

Write objective skill sets in job postings and take a deep look at your words, phrases, and sentences that may be biased. Ensure there is a diverse slate of candidates interviewed by a diverse hiring panel. Diversity officers at the company are great, but how can one person define diversity and inclusion? Look at your leaders, too. Notice that representation is typically minimized as you move up in leadership positions. Be sure to give adequate support, tools, and resources equally for deserving individuals to progress at the company.

 

Be careful with “culture fit”

What does your office culture really mean? In our minds, we struggle with reconciling a new image of an old position. Be careful with “culture fit”—culture should evolve to let more people in it. Instead of looking for a “culture fit,” look for a “culture add,” or a candidate who will bring diverse opinions and experiences to the company’s culture.

 

Set goals and be humble

Balance strategy and tactics to keep people engaged. Be strategic, but don’t be so strategic that no one knows what you’re doing. Ensure you provide transparency, have CEO support, and have a “champion.” There’s no one way to do it right, but any movements, even baby steps, will take you in the right direction. But don’t toot your horn just because you’re better than you were before. The goal should be forward improvement, not to compare to others, or to compare to your lack of progress in the past.

 

Be yourself and learn from others

Don’t wear a mask! Think about how much energy it takes to be someone else at work just to fit in. And on the other side, learn from others. Don’t say things about someone’s culture without actually getting to know someone in the culture. Remember that we have more in common than we have differences. With proper relationships, you can avoid a diversity and inclusion crisis. When you prioritize inclusion, diversity will happen naturally because people enjoy working where they feel included.

 

Why isn’t it working?

If your company culture has not changed after implementing new practices, understand why. Nelson says it’s typically because of one or more of the following factors: fear of change, privilege, traditions, culture fit, loss of culture, or “sacred cows”—an idea or custom held (unreasonably) because it’s been ingrained in the company for a long time. There are often psychological and system barriers in place that can hurt behavioral change. Don’t be afraid of removing them.

 

One thing you can do immediately is make it mandatory to diversify candidate slates.

“It’s just like online dating,” Nelson explained. “When you open your scope of exposure, you open your culture to diversity.”

The Florida Diversity Council is a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for diversity best practices and leadership development in Florida. The May program was part of a monthly series of events with the goal to influence leaders in the Central Florida community on what it truly means to engage diversity within company leadership.

PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Nelson’s advice within the public relations industry.

PRSA Orlando’s July Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s July Newsletter.