As Americans celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we turn our attention to the topic of equality and civil rights. In the workplace, this is most relevant as we ask ourselves if our teams reflect the diversity of individuals and talent in our country, and consider business practices to insure that our recruiting, hiring and advancement approaches support the promise of a diverse and inclusive America.
In PR and marketing, diversity has a variety of meanings and applications. This issue of Marketing Coach explores diversity in the broader communications context -- be it through audiences, media outlets or the platforms we use to consume media.
"As the media industry continues its rapid metamorphosis and consumers continue to expand their role creating and participating in conversations through media, there will be new ways to approach diversity."
Today's Diverse PR Audiences
PR strategies should contribute to an organization's overall brand strategy and marketing plan. We zero-in on our target audiences and develop an "earned media" approach to communicate and connect with them.
Diversity in this context has numerous meanings. It is most commonly understood as the demographics of the audience segments each marketer targets -- be it gender, age, income, ethnicity/culture, geography or lifestyle. For a broader view of diversity, we should also consider specific industry focus (e.g. healthcare, technology, consumer products, manufacturing, outdoor, and education) or functional talent (e.g. finance, human resources, technologists, and logistics).
When we talk about consumer audiences, several diverse and distinct audiences have been popular targets of late: particularly moms, Millennials, Hispanics, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) communities. Moms are often targeted, since women make roughly 85 percent of all purchase decisions and moms shop for their entire family.
As Millennials come of age, they are expected to have more spending power than any preceding generation. This segment has been recognized as a unique audience and much has recently been written about its world views and behaviors, such as strong brand loyalty and a high level of connection to technology and social media.
Ethnic marketing has been a valued targeting approach over the past few decades with Hispanics garnering particular attention because of the market's size and fast rate of growth. Many have devised campaigns and messages specifically aimed at other minority communities, including African-Americans, Asians and Native Americans. This reflects an understanding that each of these racial/ethnic markets commands substantial buying power, consumes media in ways that enable direct targeting, and engages in social, cultural or other behaviors and interests that may be uniquely targeted.
The LGBT community has been increasingly recognized as a distinct target market due to its significant buying power. Some companies and brands are building loyalty with LGBT customers by advocating support for issues this community cares about or donating to relevant charities. Studies show that LGBT Americans are twice as likely as the general population to have graduated from college, twice as likely to have individual incomes over $60,000 and twice as likely to have household incomes of $250,000 or more.
The conversation about diversity in PR is important. There are big opportunities presented with a strategy that moves from the traditional top down approach to a more targeted "bottom up" approach that taps into "new media".
"Top down" refers to targeting media that have large audiences (readers/viewers/listeners) and pushing and placing stories that will get in front of hundreds of thousands or more. This typically means placements through major national media outlets like the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal or major television and cable networks.
In today's world of PR and media, "bottom up" refers to the process of identifying distinct market segments you are looking to reach and targeting the media that are followed by your audience(s). That means looking at highly targeted media, particularly online outlets: blogs, web-based news, social, etc. This is an essential approach when reaching audiences profiled by nuanced personas or other ways of organizing media interests and consumption.
The availability of data -- how, when and for what purpose consumers visit or engage with media (including social media) -- has made targeting, or micro-targeting, a rapidly growing opportunity for PR campaigns. While some media in this category have small(er) followings, their audience engagement may provide the best outlets for a marketer to connect with their target.
As the media industry continues its rapid metamorphosis and consumers continue to expand their role creating and participating in conversations through media, there will be new ways to approach diversity. Today, we add to the perspective of diversity a lens for the platforms that consumers choose for communication. Increasingly we can expect new consumer personas to develop as we observe continued change in the style, method and types of content sought, as well as ways we engage in these multichannel environments.
Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. ICCC helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through brand building, public relations and strategic communications. Special thanks to Jason Huber, our extern from UC Berkeley, for his assistance with research for this issue.