Why Diversity Is Now A “Need to Have” to Succeed in Your PR Campaign
Historically, businesses approached diversity as a suggestion, not a goal – a “nice to have” not a “need to have”. Often, conversations about diversity were only lip service because it was known what people wanted to hear. It made companies look “woke”, but seldom was it supported by action.
Expectations are different now.
On May 25, 2020 – 1,200 miles away from the heartbeat of the U.S. and global financial system – George Floyd was killed under the knee of a police officer on a Minneapolis street corner. Companies began feeling pressure from Black employees and community leaders to speak up and speak out against racism and prejudice long present in many institutions – including Wall Street and the media.
Fighting the good fight.
We started Rally Point with a desire to help all clients tell their stories by amplifying their brands and taking part in the broader discussions around their industry. But we also saw (and still do) an opportunity for them to leverage their diversity to benefit their public perception.
We’re still fighting that battle.
I’ll never forget a meeting set up for me by a major Wall Street bank to discuss a strategy to develop and train their diverse employees for media opportunities. I waited in the lobby past my scheduled meeting time until eventually the security guard sent me up. I walked off the elevator into the enclosed corridor where I was met nervously by the assistant of the person I was to meet. It was clear I wasn’t being invited in to sit down.
I was informed that despite the bank (not me, the bank) scheduling this meeting two weeks prior, they had not found the time to speak internally about their goals for promoting their diverse talent through the media. This was one – but not an isolated incident – of my experience with major companies that still haven’t figured out how to manage perceptions around diversity.
Broadcast is leading the charge.
At the same time, I give my former industry great credit. In the world of TV news, everything is driven by ratings. What’s hot today can very quickly be abandoned tomorrow. After George Floyd’s murder, the few prominent Black CEOs and large asset managers took to the airwaves of CNBC and spoke up to The Wall Street Journal and other major media outlets about their own struggles and frustrations of the lack of opportunity for African-Americans in business and within their industries.
It became clear that diverse perspectives aren’t just important for the public to hear, but they’re good for business as well. If you’ve watched any national news programs since May of 2020, it’s easy to see the significant increase in women and people of color being interviewed. I would venture to say that nearly half of all media requests received by Rally Point for financial services commentary come with a mandate for a person of color or a woman, and often it’s non-negotiable.
Companies that step up to the plate with personnel who can take advantage of these opportunities are finding themselves forging tighter and more valuable relationships with journalists and, in some cases, charting a path for greater exposure and brand awareness.
We’ve worked with several clients to find phenomenal women and people of color within their ranks – even lending our suggestions in the hiring process – and then media trained and worked with them to become part of a deep and diverse bench for their organizations.
This is the opportunity facing any forward-looking organization with a strong public position. My advice? Seize the opportunity and find diverse voices within your ranks. Bringing those people forward is good for society and good for business. When integrated into a PR strategy, diversity is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must have” and sets a company apart from competitors and our team has been successful at finding and developing those voices among our clients.
If you’re interested in learning how you can leverage your diverse perspectives in the media, drop us a line. We’d be happy to evaluate your current roster and provide insights into what the media is looking for so we can set your ideas in motion.