As PR practitioners, we must become more insightful when communicating and connecting with our audiences.
Understanding different cultural contexts helps adjust strategy and determines whether our messages reach the right audiences and resonate authentically across target segments.
Here are seven steps to doing so:
- Do a gut check. Check your bias at the door. Your bias (whether conscious or unconscious) has a direct impact on your communications.
- Remember that words matter. Choose them wisely. Whether it’s a monthly email campaign or a giant billboard on the side of the expressway, be intentional with the words that you use in all your communication pieces.
- Look around the table. Does everyone look like you? Does everyone work in the same department as you? Are there different perspectives represented? Do your audiences have a voice? Can you look at the strategy and tactics through different lenses? A picture is worth a thousand words. Representation matters.
- Speak up. Part of creating a diverse and inclusive environment is advocating for others. If you see the same people around the table offering the same viewpoints, be the first to raise your hand so the conversation can change.
- Expand your network. Seems simple, right? No, don’t factor in just the one colleague or friend that is different from you. Do your professional and personal networks showcase diversity—diversity of thought and diversity of experience? Are your vendors and partners also empowering you with a different perspective?
- Know your audience. That’s a must. Meet your audience where they are—literally. Dine at a restaurant of a different culture, shop at an ethnic supermarket, attend community cultural events, celebrate a variety of cultural holidays, listen to and spend time with colleagues from various backgrounds, attend a gay pride parade, visit a different church, walk in a park that isn’t in your neighborhood, or volunteer at a new organization.
- Be empathic. Put yourself in the shoes of others. How would this be perceived? How would this make you feel? Once you are empathic, being kind and inclusive is easy.
Appreciating and acknowledging cultural diversity and understanding its impact on your communications outreach is paramount in creating successful campaigns. Behind all the buzz of “diversity” is a wealth of opportunity for brands.
Regina Luttrell, Ph.D. (@ginaluttrell), is an assistant professor of public relations and social media at Syracuse University. Natalia Flores, APR (@curlygnat), is the PR director for AC&M Group and president of the Hispanic Public Relations Association of the Carolinas.