PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee asked Gayle Saunders, APR, how PR professionals can integrate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) into their communications strategies
Saunders is founder and CEO of The Saunders PR Group, a full-service agency in Columbus, Ohio. She serves as Ethics Officer of PRSA’s Central Ohio Chapter and is a co-founder of PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Know your audience.
Saunders underscored the importance of understanding our audiences. To reach specific audiences, PR practitioners must use the right messages, visuals and communications channels, she said.
“Public relations professionals also need to be very aware of cultural references for specific audiences,” Saunders said. When creating visuals for a campaign, she said, “I need to make sure that people see themselves in those visuals. It is critical to be very deliberate about inclusivity from a visual perspective.”
She also emphasized the importance of word choices in communications. Additionally, “whether it is internal communications, external communications, or even if we are doing community outreach and engagement, person-to-person interaction in terms of influencer engagement is so important,” Saunders said. “Identifying trusted messengers who can be to a particular audience is critical to the success of a campaign.”
Represent broad audiences.
“We need to make sure that we are inclusive when bringing others to the table to develop communication strategies,” she said. “We have to be inclusive from the very beginning.”
Communications teams should be “inclusive and represent a broad base of audiences to make sure that we’re not missing those cultural cues and the opportunity to develop communications that reflect a commitment to DE&I,” Saunders said.
Know that it’s OK to acknowledge uncertainty.
For those just starting to include diversity in their communications, Saunders said, “It’s OK to acknowledge what you don’t know. The problem is when you do nothing about it.”
As an example, she said, “I may not be as good in social media as one of my team members, but it’s OK. Based on this, whenever I’m developing a campaign, I’m going to bring that team member who is very strategic in social media to the table, on the front end. We need to think the same way when it comes to DE&I.
“We should surround ourselves with people who have different ideas and perspectives,” Saunders said.
Facundo Luque is chair of the communications subcommittee of the PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He is currently working in an Argentinean PR agency. Connect with him on LinkedIn.