Successful Campaigns Start with Diversity and Inclusion

“I’m Not a Tourist. I Live Here.” On paper, a clever and engaging marketing campaign devised by Washingtonian, D.C.’s monthly magazine. In application, it was received differently.

The first wave of publicity was a series of photos on Instagram featuring young people modeling the shirt. There was not a single person of color in those photos. An obvious oversight in a city with a population that is nearly 50 percent black.

The backlash was swift, and the powers that be at Washingtonian were listening. The president and CEO immediately issued an apology.

As communicators, we have to be vigilant in what we say, and show. Here are a few tips to ensure your campaign doesn’t experience an inauspicious start:

  • Consider your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Think about your audience’s age, race, ethnicity, profession, education and interests. Once you have a clear picture of your audience, your campaign should be tailormade to reflect them and their interests and to capture their attention.
  • Feature diversity and inclusion from the beginning. If diversity and inclusion are key parts of your campaign, make it obvious from the beginning. Don’t expect your audience to wait until the end of your campaign to make your intentions clear. First impressions matter and as Washingtonian found out, your audience will not be forgiving if you don’t lead with a message of inclusivity.
  • Get the right kind of feedback. Getting feedback is important. But it’s also important to think about who you are asking for feedback. To really help you hit the mark, your focus group (however informal it may be) needs to be representative of the audience you want to reach. Only then will you get an idea of how your message is being received and what needs to be tweaked.
  • Delay if you can, instead of faltering at the start. A striking comment in the Washingtonian CEO’s apology was that while they solicited pictures from a diverse group of people, they put the pictures up in the order in which they came. In this case, it would have been better if they had waited to get a more representative set of pictures for their launch instead of kicking off the campaign with the intention of showing diversity later. Of course, sometimes you can’t wait, and if that’s the case, consider tweaking your launch message to tease the upcoming note of diversity and representation you are planning to strike.