The Importance of Incorporating DEI in PR Initiatives

Written by: Johanna Stubenhofer

In their analysis of Diverse Voices, The Institute for PR found that minority group success stories in the United States maintain a strong emphasis on how individual accomplishments impact their success, but their corresponding campaigns imply that it only takes hard work and dedication to achieve a goal despite these inequalities.

So, how can PR practitioners communicate the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) without suggesting that the US system does not make the issue of systemic inequalities worse?

Implementing DEI Into PR Campaigns

Before building a DEI campaign, it is important to establish that implementing DEI in any type of marketing tactic is not a one-and-done deal, but rather a commitment to your target audience that should involve communication between the organization and its marketing or communications teams.
Influencer Marketing Hub shares a few tips that companies can easily adopt to their approach:

  • Make actionable commitments that will impact the community instead of making empty commitments
  • Leverage unique, custom strategies that are tailored to your diverse audiences
  • Diversity matters as it relates to both the creator and the content
  • Break down stereotypes
  • Join the DEI conversation on current and relevant events

Using these tips, organizations can reach their intended audience with the help of internal employees to assist and advise the marketing strategy on how they can better serve the audience in an inclusive and thoughtful way. If your team lacks diverse perspectives internally, consider hiring a consulting firm to ensure your messaging is inclusive and isn’t missing any blind spots.

How DEI PR Campaigns Can Be Successful

In 2020, during the nationwide protests for social justice, Doritos launched an #AmplifyBlackVoices campaign followed by their Solid Black campaign in 2021. Here are a few campaign highlights and the result of its positive impact:

  • The #AmplifyBlackVoices campaign contributed $1 million in an effort to highlight individual Black artists across the United States
  • The SOLID BLACK campaign contributed $5 million, elevating #AmplifyBlackVoices
  • For Solid Black, Doritos pledged to support innovative Black micro-influencers by allowing them to utilize their platform to display their work
  • Solid Black generated media coverage from some of the industry’s top publications including AdWeek, The Marketing Dive, The DieLine, Packaging Strategies, Food and Beverage Insider, Hip Hop Wired, and Dallas Innovates
  • The tag #SolidBlack21 generated more than 4.34 million impressions across their Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram

Overall, Doritos’ success can serve as a guide to other brands in their own DEI initiatives with the understanding that DEI campaigns will leave significant impressions on their audience.

The Downfall of Unsuccessful DEI-focused PR Campaigns

Unfortunately, too many brands have been known to poorly implement DEI initiatives in PR campaigns.

Pepsi’s 2017 commercial during the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) showed Kendall Jenner, a white woman, sharing a can of Pepsi with a police officer during a protest, where the commercial portrayed peace between the police and the protesters. Shortly thereafter, the public accused Pepsi of downplaying the hardships that protestors faced in the wake of BLM, implying that Pepsi lacked sensitivity toward their targeted audience.

Pepsi failed in its attempt to create DEI in its messaging because its use of a white woman to represent a racially charged movement caused an uproar all over social media, forcing Pepsi to remove the advertisement altogether.

Ultimately, the commercial invited the public to ask the question: Do corporate brands include POC in their PR DEI initiatives at all?

Are your PR Campaigns Inclusive?

Consider and evaluate where your company is with DEI initiatives and understand that including DEI into your marketing campaigns is a commitment that companies need to make in order to better understand the audience you are marketing to. Learn how our Diversity Advisory Council could help organizations like yours today!

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