The Jersey Shore Women in Tech meetup group, based in Asbury Park, hosted a discussion on February 18 titled “Using Social Media to Support Your Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives.” The presenter was Deirdre Lopian, who has over 18 years of experience in public relations, marketing, branding and event production.
Advertising campaigns succeed when they consider diversity and inclusion, and fail when they don’t, she told the audience.
Lopian has developed and executed campaigns and events for Live Nation, WWE, HBO Sports, UFC, the Miss America Organization, Feld Entertainment and the NHL. In 2017, she was recognized as one of the “10 Women in PR that Lead, Inspire and Build Successful Brands” by the Organization of American Women in Public Relations.
At the meetup event, Lopian highlighted several ways to reconsider how to advertise your products and services.
As a business owner or consumer, how many mistakes do you see in advertising? she asked. Do you like what you see? Does it turn you off? Do you stop buying or following a brand if you feel that it doesn’t reflect you or your needs?
The wrong social media ads can dry up your advertising dollars faster than you planned and offend your customers at the same time, she said.
Lopian guides her clients through the process of brand leveraging with the power of digital storytelling. She uses her experience in public relations and marketing to create integrated digital communication campaigns that break through the online clutter.
Today’s marketing strategy should recognize the differences among subgroups in target markets, she said. If you aren’t paying attention to subgroups in relation to such factors as geography, socioeconomic background, religious and spiritual values, gender identity, body size and marital status, you are not reaching the customers who could help boost your bottom dollar. An inclusive approach to marketing will help create content that’s better aimed at the various communities your company serves. It’s vital for elevating diverse voices, decreasing cultural bias and contributing to positive social change.
Diversity and inclusion need to start at the workplace, said Lopian. They are important because they attract talent, increase employee retention and improve productivity by as much as 27 percent (resulting in better products). Statistics show that sales for companies emphasizing diversity and inclusion improve by as much as 20 percent. This is because a thoughtful diversity-and-inclusion program results in a happier workplace where employees take pride in their work and feel respected, which is considered to be the foundation of a brand’s ability to stand out from the rest, she said.
Even though workplace environments are generally showing signs of improvement, with more consideration being given to diversity and inclusion, we still must do more, she stated. For instance, 45 percent of men and women have experienced age discrimination, 47 percent of women have been given lower-level tasks that their male counterparts were not asked to do and 68 percent of women felt excluded from key social and networking events due to their gender, according to Gallup’s 2017 “State of the Global Workplace” report.
When developing your next social-media marketing campaign, Lopian recommends that you adopt a diversity-and-inclusion strategy that considers the following key elements:
- TONE. Hugely important, it encompasses the style, characteristics and sentiment of your ad.
- LANGUAGE. You need to carefully consider the words and phrases that you use, as well as where you indicate the central meaning of your ad.
- PRESENTATION. You should accurately depict your customers in your videos and print images, as they are all different.
- CONTEXT. Be aware of what your story is conveying visually.
- CULTURAL APPROPRIATION. Due to a globalized social media, cultural appropriation could lead to misunderstandings of what you’re trying to communicate to your audience.
- STEREOTYPES. Avoid standardized images that reflect oversimplified opinions and prejudiced attitudes.
- CROPPING, BLURRING AND ADDING IMAGES. Don’t crop, blur or insert images of individuals in ads.
The failure to take these elements into account can cost a company lots of money in terms of lost customers, Lopian concluded.