Public Relations and advertising face the challenge of appealing to a diverse audience; while it would be easy (and racist and sexist) to campaign based on the interests of only white males, a multitude of other demographics have to be considered. Some tactics hone down on exactly what a particular group actually wants to buy or see; for example, McDonald’s offers a wide variety of chicken or lamb entrees in Hindu-dominated India that forbids consuming beef (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber & Shin, 2013). Groups like the members of the LGBTQ community tend to demonstrate loyalty to brands that support their rights and values, thus increasing their buying power (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber & Shin, 2013). Using the 2012 presidential election as a good example, minorities and diverse groups will support institutions “where they are celebrated, not tolerated” (Hayes, 2013).
Part of taking on the daunting task of both appealing to the widest market possible and not offending consumers at the same time requires a diverse workforce that can contribute ideas and opinions from personal experience (Hon & Brunner, 2000). Racial statistics are changing; by 2020, non-whites are projected to collectively possess the spending power of over $3.5 trillion in the United States (Hayes, 2013). Excluding diverse groups from the PR world means missing out on new perspectives and ideas; hiring minorities is not only politically correct, it is a business tactic for a successful campaign (Hon & Brunner, 2000).
A problem remaining in PR agencies is a lack of commitment to actually broadening diversity (Hon & Brunner, 2000). One participant in a study on diversifying PR stated that diversity was only talked about; actually developing initiatives was a low priority (Hon & Brunner, 2000). It’s challenging to approach diversity when there are no minorities present to understand the issues at hand (Hon & Brunner, 2000). In addition, true diversity expands beyond “tokenism”, or relying on just one non-white individual for an attempt at diversity; expecting just one person to represent all races other than white is “ridiculous and insulting to the person” (Hon & Brunner, 2000).
A wider range of staff that brings multiple views can mean a more intensive process to reach a solution, but in most cases, the ending result is of higher quality; working with conflicting opinions creates a better product (Hon & Brunner, 2000) Viewing diversifying as a business model for success and not just a need to appear culturally accepting provides greater incentive for expanding beyond a white-only, male-dominated staff (Hayes, 2013). Diversity equals better business, end of story.
Hon, L. C., & Brunner, B. (2000). Diversity issues and public relations. JOURNAL OF PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH, 12(4), 309-340.
Hayes, L. (2013, February 25). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.holmesreport.com/opinion-info/13071/Lack-Of-Diversity-Is-PR-Industrys-Dirty-Little-Secret.aspx
Wilcox, D., Cameron, G., Reber, B., & Shin, J. (2013).Think public relations. (2nd ed., pp. 206-215). New Jersey, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.