One Size Does Not Fit All – Showcasing Diversity Through Strategy & Storytelling

This article was written by our colleague Angela Salerno-Robin, Senior Vice President of Media

According to a Pew Research Report, American newsrooms are among the least diverse occupations in the U.S., with three-quarters of newsroom employees being non-Hispanic white. National and global issues like the “Summer of Justice” following George Floyd’s death in 2020 and the resulting protests, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought the urgent need to diversify newsrooms to the forefront.

Inequities in healthcare have been spotlighted, particularly among communities of color, such as Black and Hispanic, who are disproportionately affected by health disparities. Yet, most newsrooms aren’t reflective of these communities, and in communications, media strategies have traditionally been built to marginalize this audience as “specialty audiences”, rather part of mainstream. The new generation of readers want content that reflects their experiences and perspectives. While we are seeing newsrooms across the nation increase efforts to shift culture and employment, as communicators, we also have an opportunity to reimagine how we support diversity and inclusion with our work. In doing so, we can reexamine the ways we are reaching the media and their audiences.

Here are three ways to achieve more diversity in your storytelling:

Create a diverse team of storytellers
You can foster growth of DE&I efforts through hiring more diverse team members. This can come in different forms, such as race, religion, sexual orientation, and even diverse career backgrounds. You can also actively seek out different perspectives and bring in people outside of your day-to-day teams to review content, social posts, or pitches to ensure assumptions or biases aren’t being made.

View diverse media in a more inclusive way
Diverse media should be thought of as part of the mainstream rather than a “carve out” audience. If you aren’t reaching communities of color, you are leaving a large market with substantial purchasing power untapped. In fact, research shows African American, Asian American and Native American consumers have exploded over the past 30 years, up from $458 billion in 1990 to $3 trillion in 2020. In addition to increasing sheer size, their combined share of the nation’s total buying power increased from 10.6% in 1990 to 17.2% in 2020.

It’s time to toss out the one-size-fits all approach when it comes to sharing information to market products or services. Understanding the differences between media outlets that are dedicated to serving these populations in terms of their size, reach and influence can create great opportunities to work with media such as El Nuevo Dia, The Grio, Queerty, Refinery 29 Somos, Dear Asian Americans, just to name a few. Local media is another important medium to reach. Many markets have hyper targeted papers that are geared directly towards these audiences, such as the Houston Defender or The Atlanta Voice.

Reevaluate your voices
So, you have adjusted your target list, but now who are the voices you are pitching? To reach a diverse community, you want to consider offering experts that look and sound like them. When you develop your KOL or spokesperson list, think about the different types of voices you will need to surpass “mainstream media” in order to reach outlets that authentically speak to your target audience. If you are able to speak to your audiences’ directly, with people and sources they can relate to, you will likely achieve higher engagement, and importantly, grow trust for your brand.

Tell Us: How are you working to create more inclusive media strategies and pitch lists?