The Lowercase Black is a Color, Not a Person: New AP Stylebook Changes You Should Know Right Now

By Alyssa List, PRSA Orlando VP Finance

The AP Stylebook made notable changes in its latest edition, updating its guidance on a number of relevant topics like race, gender-neutral language, and terms related to the coronavirus pandemic.  

One important change was the capitalization of Black when using it as an adjective that refers to racial, ethnic or cultural implications. The Associated Press said the decision to capitalize Black came after “more than two years of in-depth research and discussion with colleagues and respected thinkers from a diversity of backgrounds, both within and from outside the cooperative.”

On a recent Twitter #APStyleChat, AP said it is continuing to discuss whether to capitalize the term white, and if it will have any global impact. The decision will come within a month, AP said in a Twitter post.

African American is acceptable for those in the U.S, but the term is not interchangeable with Black. However, AP generally says to follow an individual’s preference, and be specific when possible.

A few other relevant changes:

  • Do not use either Black or white as a singular noun, but plural nouns are generally acceptable when clearly relevant and needed for reasons of space or sentence construction.
  • Capitalize Pride when referring to events or organizations honoring LGBTQ+ communities and on subsequent references. The new update also adds that the plus symbol (+) should only be used when it is part of a company, brand or event name. Otherwise, spell out plus.
  • In general, use terms that can apply to any gender: chair or chairperson, firefighter, busser, hero, server, etc. Avoid unfamiliar constructions. However, don’t use congressperson; use terms like U.S. representative, representative or member of Congress.
  • Without a common gender-neutral word, use the masculine noun that assumes a general word: host, actor. However, use actress when referring to awards with actress in the name.
  • Older adult or older people is preferred over senior citizens, seniors or elderly.
  • When possible, ask people how they prefer to be described when referring to a disabled person or a person with a disability.
  • COVID-19 can be referred to as the virus, but COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus. The virus is named SARS-CoV-2. Do not shorten to COVID, even in headlines, unless part of a quote. Also, do not refer to coronavirus without the article the.
  • Avoid the term pathogen. Use virus, bacteria, germs or bugs.

And equally important, I will end with an unchanged rule that is a pet peeve of mine if not used correctly: The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks.

Please refer to the latest AP Stylebook for additional nuances and updates. PRSA members receive a 20% discount on one single-user subscription to the AP stylebook Online. Go here for details.

The City of Orlando Leads The Way in LGBTQ+ Inclusion

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Last year was a banner year for the LGBTQ+ community in the city of Orlando and throughout Central Florida. Not only did Orlando receive a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide evaluation of equality in municipal laws, but Orange County adopted the city of Orlando’s resolution to better integrate with certified LGBTQ-owned businesses in Central Florida. 

For Orlando, showing its support to the LGBTQ+ community is not just an act of civic responsibility. According to Felipe Sousa Matos Rodriguez, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Senior Specialist for the City of Orlando, supporting LGBTQ-owned businesses is an important economic development strategy. 

“The City of Orlando is a city for everyone and we are proud of our diversity. [The LGBTQ+ community] is the backbone of our economic growth,” he said. “The goal of our diversity program is to support minority, women, and now LGBTQ-owned businesses by giving them educational opportunities and exposure to potential contracts.”

With this resolution, Orlando recognizes the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s certification process which certifies that LGBTQ+ individuals own at least 51 percent of a business, tracks the city’s contracts and spending with certified LGBTQ-owned businesses, and commits to increased outreach with the Pride Chamber, Orlando’s local chapter of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 

“Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando City Council truly believe in making sure that our residents have equal opportunity to thrive in our city,” Rodriguez added. “This is yet another clear example of how the City Beautiful leads the way in Florida. Our message to LGBTQ+ business owners is simple – the City of Orlando wants to do business with you.” 

Cities across the nation have given underrepresented minority groups an opportunity to land public contracts. Now there is an effort to include LGBTQ-owned businesses in that process. Felipe Sousa Matos Rodriguez shared with us the value of becoming an LGBTQ-certified business in Orlando and marketing tips for businesses and their allies. 

What are the benefits of becoming a certified LGBTQ+ business owner? 

Felipe: “The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce offers a network of over 200 corporate and government partners seeking to do business with LGBTQ-owned businesses. They also have more than 1,000 certified businesses ranging from technology to professional services and newly-certified businesses will have full access to this incredible network. Additionally, the LGBTQ+ community spends $917 billion annually, and 75% of these individuals are likely to buy brands that are LGBTQ+ inclusive. The certification can lead to greater business exposure and greater appeal to consumers looking to spend money on businesses known for welcoming and inclusive nature.”

How many LGBTQ+ owned businesses does the city of Orlando have? What industries are represented? 

Felipe: “As we are only able to track the businesses that choose to get certified, we don’t have a definitive number of how many LGBTQ-owned businesses there are. We estimate that there are hundreds in Orlando and the surrounding area, if not more. Businesses who get certified are usually business-to-business because of the benefits involved, and a majority of our local LGBTQ-owned businesses are directed to consumers. Some of the industries represented are hospitality, professional services, technology, construction, and real estate, to name a few. 

Whether they make delicious treats like the ones sold at Se7en Bites or provide incredible event pictures like the ones taken by J.D. Casto Photography, our LGBTQ+ community is thriving with innovation. We encourage all LGBTQ+ owners to get certified. Our local Pride Chamber is happy to help anyone interested in the process.”

What are your best marketing tips for businesses that want to identify as LGBTQ-owned or friendly? 

Felipe: “The typical LGBTQ+ consumer is very engaged and they never forget positive inclusionary steps taken by large corporations or small businesses. Businesses seeking to attract them as patrons should consider financially supporting local LGBTQ+ nonprofits, sponsoring LGBTQ+ events, and placing ads in their local LGBTQ+ publications. Other steps could include using symbols such as the rainbow and transgender flags inside their business and creating nondiscrimination policies to protect their LGBTQ+ employees from workplace discrimination.”

What does Pride mean to you? 

Felipe: “As an immigrant and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, there is never a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on the meaning of ‘pride.’ When I first came out my mother did not accept me and when I moved to the United States, I learned firsthand the obstacles faced by immigrants. These experiences shaped who I am today and I believe they made me stronger. I am grounded in our long history as a community and our fight for equal rights. Pride is not just a month of the year; it is our collective commitment to continue working towards a world where children won’t have to experience discrimination or family rejection. We come from a long line of leaders who fought before us. It is our duty to continue their legacy. Pride is walking in our neighborhoods, holding our loved one’s hand and hoping that one day that won’t be a sign of courage, but simply a display of love. I chose to work under the visionary leadership of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Patty Sheehan because they truly believe in inclusion. They have never shied away from doing the right thing for our community, even when it wasn’t popular. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and we are working hard to make sure our LGBTQ+ residents have a voice in their local government.”

Orlando’s inclusive policies date back to the 1973 non-discrimination ordinance. Since then, it has been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ inclusion. The city became the first government agency in Central Florida to create a domestic partnership registry in 2011; enforced City and Federal laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; supported multiple local LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Zebra Coalition and the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida; created programs in support of LGTBQ+ youth; and provided resources for those affected by the Pulse tragedy; among many other initiatives, you can learn about here

Through their inclusive efforts, Orlando has paved the way in advancing LGBTQ+ acceptance and, in turn, has attracted new businesses to the area and helped their bottom line. PRSA Orlando has a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we believe that efforts such as the ones taken by the City of Orlando are essential to creating a thriving culture of belonging. 

Key Takeaways From Adweek’s Diversity & Inclusion Summit

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Adweek’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit, brought thirteen chief marketing officers and brand leaders from top global organizations together for a virtual event to discuss how diversity, inclusion, equality and equity are growth drivers across all business sectors. 

Diversity and inclusion in business and marketing are often pushed to the sidelines during times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, but these brand leaders agreed that now is the time to double down on those efforts and find ways to creatively and meaningfully engage with underrepresented communities. 

Continue reading to see how some of the featured speakers at the summit are creating more inclusive workplaces and navigating D&I in their business and marketing strategies, and the takeaways you can incorporate into your own practices. 

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G

Marc’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“During these times of crisis, diversity and inclusion, and equality in general, take a step back. The people who have been historically discriminated against tend to suffer disproportionately. What is distressing about it is that the very people who are marginalized are those working in the frontlines, such as women, African Americans, Hispanic Americas, Asian Pacific Americans, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.”

Marc’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Don’t wait for anybody. If you’re not doing multicultural marketing in the US, you’re not doing marketing. Get your company to embrace D&I. If they don’t, leave.”

How P&G has taken action: 

“We recognized very quickly that many groups of people did not have access to the most basic of products, so we pivoted our annual relief efforts to COVID-19 relief efforts to make sure that we were supplying families in need, focusing on the hardest hit communities.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Refuse to snap back to what and who is familiar, and instead step forward on equality and inclusion.
  • Restart equal. Hire equal. Pay equal. Share equal.
  • Join forces to be a force for good. Don’t admire the problem, shine the light on it.

Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Facebook

Antonio’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“We need to make sure that diversity and inclusion isn’t one of the casualties of this pandemic. There is a need to accelerate progress, and I am worried that things will go back to square one, which will not work moving forward. The business case has proven time and time again that diverse teams perform better, and as roles continue to be cut or furloughed, we need to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront.”

Antonio’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Everyone likes to talk about the nice part of D&I, but it is hard. It is supposed to be hard. When you have a diverse group of people bringing different experiences, it is going to create some friction, but unless you’re willing to look at someone in the eye and accept the fact that their thinking is going to make your campaign better and move the company forward, then talking about D&I means nothing.”

How Facebook has taken action: 

From the beginning of the global health crisis, Facebook has been supporting the global health community’s work to keep people safe and informed by providing factual information in all six United Nations languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish), among other efforts.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Stay vigilant and address inequality head on.
  • Keep measuring your progress.
  • Take action.

Diego Scotti, Chief Marketing Officer at Verizon

Diego’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Cannes was cancelled this year, and when the organizers put out their statement, they said that the creative community wouldn’t be able to put forward the work that would set the benchmark because of the circumstances. I would say that many brands are putting out some of the most meaningful, purpose-driven and diverse work at this time.”

How Verizon has taken action: 

“We are very focused on Pride month, but this year the parades won’t be there. We decided to launch a virtual campaign in June called “Voices of Pride,” that’ll amplify and promote the stories of that community.”

Additionally, Scotti touched on adfellows, a diverse and inclusive fellowship program created by Verizon designed to help individuals break into marketing and advertising. “Bringing all of these voices together to tell their stories… is the best way that we can keep moving forward.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Collaborate.
  • Help each other.
  • Champion outside-the-box thinking.

Claudia Romo Edelman, Founder of We Are All Human

Claudia’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“The Hispanic community is disproportionately affected and equipped. Many of them do not have enough information on the coronavirus pandemic because it is not being correctly translated or it is not reaching them. Now is not the time to stop engaging with this market. This is the time in which you have to increase representation in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, and let us know that you see us. The Hispanic community is loyal and they want to see you champion and invest in their community.”

How We Are All Human has taken action: 

We Are All Human’s Hispanic Star Response & Recovery Plan has provided a resource directory and a marketplace for talent and services during the pandemic. They, along with their corporate partners, have also provided necessary resources such as food and routers to underserved communities.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Maintain or increase your ad spend in the Hispanic market.
  • Support Hispanics as employees, consumers, and community.
  • Hire, promote, retain and celebrate Hispanics within your workplace.

Cynthia Chen, GM and President of Consumer Health at RB

Cynthia’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“There has been a lot of stigma toward the Asian community. When you think about the United States, the word ‘united’ stands out, but it has felt very divisive. It is 2020, and this is not acceptable. What our leaders say has a huge impact on their audience, and as a brand we have the unique responsibility to spread the truth.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Involve the community.
  • Build coalitions beyond Asian Americans.
  • Provide utility – empathy is not sufficient, utility is critical. It is about the lives and livelihoods of our people.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO at GLAAD

Sarah’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Include LGBTQ+ people in your ads because it really does move the needle and drive acceptance and policy that supports that community.”

“When you market to a marginalized community, make sure that your company understands D&I and that there is an inclusive culture in your organization. You are not just marketing, you are joining a movement and that means more than putting a rainbow on a product. That means that we need you to stand up for us, and we will expect you to do so. There are going to be missteps. Don’t let fear stop you. The most important thing is the intention, that you’re looking to embrace and engage with a marginalized community, not just make a dollar from them.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Don’t just market to our community. Join our movement.
  • When done right, LGBTQ+ inclusion in ads is good for your bottom line and can also advance LGBTQ+ acceptance.
  • Ensure trusted experts from the community are brought in on your ad or campaign.

Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient

Marc’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“One of the things that is very clear is that today, in this moment of crisis, D&I and equality for all is a business imperative. We are seeing the gender and racial gaps widen, and if we don’t activate change consciously we will widen the gap. This is our opportunity to get rid of junk and bring forward the positives. Look at the things during this crisis that have led to creativity and equity. Let’s not rewrite history, let’s create our future together. Shut that door and bring open a new one in advancing women and equality.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Create metrics that matter and hold yourself accountable.
  • Ensure you are not only filling your pipeline with diversity, but are also mapping the pathway for success.
  • Life stage accommodations to ensure you attract and retain the best talent, not just the available talent.

Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer at William Morris Endeavor

Marc’s thoughts on current events: 

“What are we doing? Are we going to keep having these nice conversations about diversity and inclusion and expect something to change? We need to ensure that this conversation doesn’t stop with hashtags.”

“I challenge us to be uncomfortable having the conversation. Don’t sit by—when you’re quiet your silence is a weapon too. We can’t have nice conversations anymore. I want everyone to be enraged like I am enraged. I am an angry black woman today—and I want you to be too.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Be enraged.
  • Be enraged.
  • Be enraged.

Stephanie Buscemi, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Salesforce

Stephanie’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Business is a platform for change. Businesses have a responsibility to give back and create change.”

“Instead of creating a separate team that audits things for inclusivity, it’s in the DNA of the company.”

“Tell the stories of underrepresented communities. You cannot be what you cannot see.”

How Salesforce has taken action: 

In 2014, Salesforce launched Trailhead, a series of free online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to code for the Salesforce platform, with the goal of driving the creation of nearly 3.3 million new jobs by 2022. Through Trailhead, Salesforce hopes to attract more women and minorities and other diverse audiences to the software world.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Amplify diverse stories and hear across your community.
  • Scale globally, while providing your community with the tools to mount their own local campaigns.
  • Educate your entire organization on the need for deeper structural changes that value all of us.

Jason White, Chief Marketing Officer at Curaleaf

Jason’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“The cannabis industry has been built on the backs of people in jail, and as the industry flourishes, a lot of these folk are not allowed to participate. There is a stigma attached to this industry that needs to change. How do we allow people to participate in this industry and honor the communities and the people who have been marginalized?”

“If we’re going to be part of change, we have to make it part of our business model.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Send a message – hold recruiters accountable for DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion).
  • Shine a light – invite us to the community of normalcy, while requiring the same accountability and transparency.
  • Change the narrative – encourage careers in cannabis and don’t perpetuate the cannabis stigma.

If you weren’t able to make the summit, you can catch the recordings here. The original and extended version of this blog post appeared on Laughing Samurai

The Importance Of Translating & Transcreating Your Marketing Campaigns

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

We live in a globalized society, and while it feels like we are all interconnected, it is easy to forget that cultures and traditions vary from place to place. When developing a multicultural marketing strategy, it is important to have content properly adapted into the language being used in the target markets because content that resonates with readers in one market may miss the mark in another. 

Spanish is the second most common language in the United States, with around 20 percent of the population in Florida speaking Spanish at home. That is an estimated three million people. After Spanish, Haitian Creole is the third most commonly spoken language in the state of Florida. The United States has a growing Hispanic population of more than 59 million people who are projected to reach a collective buying power of $1.7 trillion in 2020. Investing in quality translations for marketing to the U.S. Hispanic market is not just smart; it makes good business sense. Do you really want to leave that much of the population untouched by your messaging? 

Poor translations can hurt your business and can potentially hurt the integrity of your brand, or cause a loss of revenue. In 2009, HSBC Bank invested millions of dollars in an advertising campaign in which they translated their tagline “Assume nothing” in their target countries. However, the translation came across as “Do Nothing,” and it cost HSBC $10 million to fix the issue. They eventually changed their slogan to “The World’s Private Bank.” 

Avoid Machine Translation

While services such as Google Translate and Babel Fish are easy and simple to use, their results are often inaccurate. Sure, using the service while on an overseas adventure might help you have a simple conversation with someone, but because machine translation is literal, it translates text without applying any human intelligence to the translation. For many marketers on a budget, Google Translate is an attractive translation tool because there isn’t a cost attached to use it. And while machine translation can save you money upfront, the resulting lack of engagement on campaigns and social media posts with potential and existing customers coupled with the drops in conversion creates a false economy.

Your audience can tell you’ve used Google Translate. According to an analysis by Politico in early 2019, every Democratic candidate for U.S. president had significant spelling mistakes on their Spanish websites and some of the pages even read as if they were directly plugged into Google Translate. Despite their good intentions to represent and resonate with the Latino electorate, the errors produced the opposite effect, prompting Spanish speakers to question how seriously the candidates were vying for their vote. 

Know Your Audience and Their Culture

When translating content, it is important to understand your audience, their values and their culture. As an example, there will be distinct variations in vocabulary and speech between Spanish-speaking countries. Because there are about 10 major Spanish dialects, and that Spanish is the main language spoken in 20 sovereign states, one territory, and a common language in the U.S., messaging tailored to a Mexican audience might not necessarily make sense to a Puerto Rican or a U.S. Hispanic market. It is crucial to your campaign’s success to knowing exactly who you are producing the translation for. 

Translate VS. Transcreate

Very often, marketers use the words “translate” and “transcreate” interchangeably, and while both are common language service options, there is a subtle variation between the terms. Rather than a word-for-word translation, some of your marketing campaigns will need transcreation – the adaption of content while maintaining the existing tone, intent, essence and style of the original message to resonate with the intended international audience. In order for your campaign to find success, it must be tackled by a linguist who can inject their own creativity, authenticity, and cultural knowledge.

Increasing your sales strategically through transcreated content and campaigns can drive brand recognition in new markets. Back in the 1980s, car manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors launched the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, named after the Pampas cat, but it had to swiftly change the name of the model to the less suggestive Mitsubishi Montero for Spanish-speaking markets. 

When introducing urBeats to the French market, headphone manufacturer Beats by Dre hired a translation service to develop a French slogan for the product. The literal translation of its English slogan, “Made to take a beating,” did not make sense to French consumers. The team came up with the slogan, “Conçus pour résister à tous les tempos” (“Made to resist all tempos”), a play on the French phrase, “Conçus pour résister à tous les temps” (“Made to resist all weather conditions”), which resonated with the market. 

Final Thoughts

At the simplest level, businesses and brands taking educated risks are often the ones attracting the attention and resonating with a wider audience. Whether you’re looking to translate or transcreate an upcoming marketing campaign, keep in mind the tips discussed and remember that being daring and creative can play an important part in your multicultural marketing strategy. If adapting your content to Spanish or another language is not something you have the ability to do in-house, please visit our chapter directory on the MyPRSA portal to connect with local agencies with those capabilities. 

3 things we learned from Netflix’s Strong Black Lead on how to engage a captive audience

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

“…We’re not a genre, because there’s no one way to be black. […] This is not a moment. This is a movement. We are Strong Black Leads. Today is A Great Day in Hollywood.”

Two years ago, Netflix debuted a commercial spot during the 2018 BET Awards celebrating black actors, directives and the creatives who work for the streaming giant. Directed by Lacey Duke, the video was titled “A Great Day in Hollywood,” taking inspiration from the 1958 photo “A Great Day In Harlem,” a black-and-white photograph of 58 jazz musicians in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City.

Narrated by “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin, the video features 47 artists including Danielle Brooks, Laverne Cox, Ava DuVernay, Lena Waithe, Spike Lee, and Alfre Woodard, among others. The video spot launched Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign, designed to foster an “ongoing, intentional focus to talk authentically with the black audience.”

Enriching conversations about race and identity are occupying a vital place in today’s culture. In honor of Black History Month, PRSA Orlando would like to celebrate the pioneers leading the charge in creating original content with a strong black identity that reflects its viewers by discussing the lessons we learned from Netflix’s Strong Black Lead campaign.

1. Give black creatives a seat at the table.

When Myles Worthington, manager of brand and editorial at Netflix, first arrived at Netflix in 2016, he noticed that the company’s black stories were not being significantly promoted. He then began connecting with African American media outlets and journalists through a monthly newsletter to build a network. He quickly began to see an increase in coverage of these Netflix features and the campaign grew from there.

If your team is looking to attract and engage today’s black consumers without including their voice in the room, your campaign won’t resonate culturally or experientially.

Based on research conducted by Cloverpop, inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87 percent of the time. And according to Nielsen, black consumer brand loyalty is contingent upon a brand’s perception as authentic and culturally relevant. And with African Americans spending $1.2 trillion annually, brands have a lot to lose when they are not authentic or inclusive in their decision-making.

2. Use social media to engage with your audience.

Netflix’s Strong Black Lead Twitter account is overseen by Maya Watson Banks, Netflix’s director of brand and editorial, and a team of black creatives who share a passion for Netflix’s stories and content. The Twitter account has amassed over 119,000 followers because of the authentic language in which they engage with their followers, from sharing excitement over a character or a new series to celebrating the importance of representation during award shows.

Research from Nielsen shows us that black consumers are speaking directly to brands in unprecedented ways and achieving headline-making results. It reads that throughout 2017, popular brands witnessed the power of “Black Twitter” and the brand impact of socially conscious black consumers.

For those unfamiliar with Black Twitter, it is a virtual community and movement that consists of a diverse group of black Twitter users connecting on a variety of issues related to the experience of being black.

3. Focus on your audience’s social footprint.

Strong Black Lead has expanded its presence beyond its Twitter feed to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even a branded podcast series. The first season of Strong Black Lead launched in February 2019, focused on Strong Black Legends, honoring and showcasing Hollywood icons such as Ruth Carter, Loretta Devine, and Jason Weaver. The second season, Strong Black Laughs, premiered in November 2019 bringing together the black champions of comedy, including Mike Epps, Marlon Wayans, and Nicole Byer.

4. Connecting with your audience authentically takes time.

Should your brand have a presence on every platform? What is the most popular social network for your audience?

Building a successful marketing campaign that authentically connects with black audiences takes time, but it is possible. Focus your marketing dollars on where your audience is and do not sacrifice quality for uninspired content that does not resonate. Marketers must be willing to do the research, understand and embrace their audience, and most importantly, ensure there is enough representation and inclusion at the decision-making level.

What we learned at supper: PRSA members on women in leadership

PRSA Orlando Chapter members met and discussed the importance of women in leadership and more. Their discussion and findings were incorporated into the Diversity and Inclusion whitepaper:

What is the biggest lie working women have collectively accepted as true?

If you put your head down and work hard, you will be seen for your value,” said one Central Florida executive. “I wish that I had been more confident in the past and looked for opportunities to leverage the skills I brought to my role instead of burying myself in work and being passed over for promotions and opportunities.”

That you’ll advance based on your merits,” said another. “That isn’t always the case when you consider office politics and other factors. Merits are just one piece of it.”

Barely had we launched into PRSA Orlando’s second annual Dinner, Diversity & Dialogue before the anecdotes began after some initial thought-provoking questions by the chapter’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Chair Alyssa Badalamenti.

A few more strong answers gave us a glimpse into the work-life realities of PR women in leadership roles:

That you can achieve balance, have it all and be a leader at home and at work. Realistically, some days you are a leader at home and some at work and you have to be willing to sacrifice your time. Many spend so much time trying to find that balance that doesn’t exist.”

That I had to make myself fit into the working spaces that were created by men by dressing a certain way, speak how they spoke, and work a certain number of hours. For a long time, I thought that is what it took for anyone to take me seriously. These days I see more women standing up for themselves and negotiating their hours and pay.”

This year’s theme for the discussion focused on “Women in Leadership,” giving 12 PRSA Orlando members the opportunity to discuss the challenges, differences and commonalities they’ve experienced as women who have grown into leadership positions within the public relations profession. The Anderson-Devitt Foundation, a family foundation that seeks to help our community become a better place to live, covered the dinner expenses. The dinner touched upon the role of women in leadership, the importance of gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the intrinsic value of mentorship. We are thankful for the women who attended and appreciate the refreshing candor of their conversation with us.
The goal was to connect and learn from others facing similar challenges or successes. An informal moderated dinner discussion with these 12 Central Florida women provided us with the following takeaways:

GENDER BIAS IMPACTS COMMUNICATION

What we ‘should be’: Gender stereotypes lead to men in the workplace being deemed as strong, competitive or independent, while women have certain characteristics attributed to them such as warm, nurturing, emotional and passive. These stereotypes are not who we are and should not define us.

Perceptions: It’s a challenge to avoid labels. When a woman speaks her mind and is assertive, she may be viewed or labeled as intense and aggressive, but when she doesn’t, she may be seen as quiet and meek. Rather than wasting energy managing perceptions and defining themselves in relation to gender stereotypes, female leaders should remain cognizant of implicit bias, while focusing on their purpose in their role and shared organizational goals.

Expectations: “There is an expectation that I will be nice and “fluffy” about any feedback I’m going to give,” one woman specifically remarked.

EMPOWERED WOMEN EMPOWER WOMEN
Mentorship: The encouragement of a colleague or another mentor in the profession can make a huge difference for someone struggling to grow. Counsel from someone who may have had similar experiences is invaluable for women to share with one another and others who may face comparable challenges. If you are a leader, be a leader, but don’t forget to be a mentor as well.

Cultivate relationships: Young professionals should not be afraid of cultivating meaningful relationships with colleagues who will help them reach the next step.

Self-advocacy: Through mentoring, young women should be encouraged to advocate for themselves. Whether it may be for more opportunity or for more pay, we should all be ready to stand for ourselves, no matter your gender.

Overcome imposter syndrome: During the dinner, we heard multiple stories of negative experiences that left our participants questioning their accomplishments and how others perceived their success. By discussing these events, it was clear that the resulting self-doubt was no easy hurdle to leap. Each person who shared their story realized they were not alone in this feeling, and bolstered by the realization, came to see more clearly their own worth. You deserve your success.

FEMALE PRACTITIONERS WANT MEN TO BE ALLIES IN THE WORKPLACE

Becoming allies: We all work better when we work together and several participants in our dinner noted the importance of supportive male colleagues and how such individuals have helped them on the road to leadership. Instead of engaging in call-out culture, it’s important for men in leadership roles to help build the next generation of allies, for women and all diverse individuals. Doing so cultivates a thriving mentoring culture in the workplace and in the community.

Listen: Perhaps one of the most important skills for a leader to possess is the ability to listen. Leaders that actively listen not only build the understanding necessary for seeing the big picture, but they also build trust. Historically, men have been encouraged to boldly share their ideas in the workplace. To build that important ally relationship, women and men need to listen to each other to understand each other’s voices and challenges, and further inspire trust.

Speak up: Merriam-Webster defines an ally as “a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.” In other words, to be a true ally, you must speak up. It is important for leaders to confront sexism in the workplace, as well as speak up when they see a colleague being talked over, interrupted, having someone else take credit for their work, or not being compensated appropriately.

Advocate: The support of a peer can be just as important as that of leadership. Men, regardless of whether they are in a leadership position, can advocate on behalf of female and diverse colleagues, calling attention to and celebrating their accomplishments. These small, but important actions increase the chance of their colleagues’ work being recognized.

YOUR COMPANY’S DIVERSITY TRAINING MAY NOT BE WORKING

Onboarding talking points: Diversity and inclusion should be encouraged at all levels of an organization, from senior leaders to entry-level employees. When these values are at the core of a company’s culture, initiatives such as providing talking points during the onboarding process will empower leaders to call out injustice when they encounter it.

Beyond D&I training: Effective diversity and inclusion training should go beyond the basics and aim for organizational change. Training is more than a box to check and should be an ongoing and collaborative process. A comprehensive diversity and inclusion program will encourage changes that emphasize these values throughout the year.

Check-in with your employees: Employers, as well as the human resources team, should be scheduling regular check-ins with their employees in order to create an inclusive environment where employees feel a sense of belonging. During these one-on-one interactions, managers can ensure their team members feel included, as well as address any behaviors that need to be trained out.

Interview your company: Before accepting a job offer, find out if the company’s values and beliefs align with yours, and do not be afraid to leave a company that does not live up to what it says it represents. Your career is a reflection of you.

CONSENSUS

Unconscious bias has the potential to shape an organization’s culture affecting who gets hired and promoted. Female leaders are currently under-represented in the C-Suite and continue to be affected by unconscious bias from their male colleagues and by double-bind bias – the struggle between what is expected from a leader and from a woman.

To create an inclusive workplace culture and shift the gender balance, proper training is crucial, and companies need to redefine what a leader is. Empowering women, engaging allies in the workplace, and ensuring diversity and inclusion training is current and ongoing are surefire ways to guarantee your company’s bottom-line success.

We welcome suggestions from our PRSA Orlando members on how we can help communications professionals address diversity and inclusion in the profession and at large.

Please reach out to PRSA Orlando’s 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Chair, Veronica Figueroa, to continue the discussion.

Diversity is a great force towards creativity

PRSA Orlando’s goal is to support communications professionals of all backgrounds. This year specifically, one of my goals was to look for opportunities to include everyone in our efforts and build new relationships. You can’t have a diverse membership if you don’t provide a diversity of opportunities.

We are all unique, come from a variety of industries, and are in various stages of our careers. One person cannot define diversity and inclusion.  That’s why this year, we expanded our team with the addition of two diversity and inclusion committee members working with the D&I Chair (me). Together, we shared experiences, brainstormed ideas and put words to action with a few key efforts.

We partnered with the Florida Diversity Council, where we found value in learning and hearing from Central Florida executives about what they’re doing to influence change and address diversity head-on.

We wrote ten blogs on various diversity topics like hip hop culture, engaging physically-disabled audiences, LGBTQ branding, and other focuses that influence and shape us daily.

We held a program on the role and impact of public relations in inclusion and diversity with EA Sports – a company that continues to evolve with its diverse audience.

We held our second annual Dinner, Diversity and Dialogue event fostering a culture of sharing experiences that influence our membership. We looked at the demographics of our association and held a dinner with 12 women in PR to discuss leadership. We learned the challenges they’ve experienced, the areas they wish they had more support in, and the advice they want to give young women in public relations. The findings will be shared in a thought paper that will be published on our blog early next year.

But perhaps what I’m most excited to share is that these types of purposeful, intentional efforts and direct outreach had a lasting impact. Our two D&I committee members came onboard after expressing interest following the first Dinner, Diversity, and Dialogue event. Three PRSA member attendees from the second dinner have officially taken on board roles for next year. This is the kind of change we’ve been looking for: getting members of all backgrounds more engaged with us by providing them opportunities that match their interests.

We found other ways to connect with our members too. We posted social media videos and graphics with quotes from our members on how to effectively communicate and incorporate diversity into their branding and messaging.

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over when there’s so much more we want to do, but I hope you will continue to connect with us over the next year as D&I committee member Veronica Figueroa moves into the D&I Chair role.

Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a buzzword for us. It’s a commitment. It’s woven into who we are–within our practices, within our programs, and within our leadership.  We promise you we’re also taking your feedback to PRSA National to give them the best position to provide us the resources we need to address the diversity and inclusion challenges and opportunities within our profession.

One of the simplest, yet biggest values I believe PRSA brings is having each other as a resource and as a sounding board. As always, we appreciate any feedback, suggestions or ideas on how we can support you.

Have a beautiful holiday.

Best,

Alyssa Badalamenti

PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Alyssa.badalamenti@ffva.com

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

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.