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How Can Marketers Be More Inclusive with Content and Influencers Right Now?

After the tragedy of George Floyd and the following protests and demonstrations, the awareness about the need for equality, inclusiveness and diversity has many companies taking action. Some organizations already have D&I initiatives and resources to guide them but many others are figuring out what is most relevant and meaningful for their business, customers, employees and community.

A lot of the negative bias that exists when it comes to equality is fueled by how people are represented or not in media and in marketing content. Marketers like our agency are in a unique position to make decisions about inclusiveness in the content produced and the people engaged as influencers both for the marketing performed for clients as well as for agency marketing.

We’ve discussed the topic of diversity and inclusiveness internally and the values of our team require us to do more and be more. If values are not enough to inspire a company towards action, consider that more people are considering equality as one of their top factors when thinking about purchasing from a brand. Regardless, it’s the right thing to do.

I understand some companies are taking time to “figure out” what makes sense for their diversity efforts because for some people and companies, being intentionally inclusive is new territory and there is some fear of making the wrong decision. But there are some things marketers can do right now that are simple, easy and meaningful.

For our own marketing content, we’ve been active advocates for gender inclusiveness for the past 10+ years. Also, conversations about image selection and influencers has always included what I would call a passive effort to represent the diversity of people that work in a given target audience. But it’s not enough. Not by a long shot.

Our team is skillful with words but we are masters at creating impact with marketing. Taking ongoing actions to educate ourselves about equality, inclusion and the experiences of marginalized people in our world is helping us better empathize and understand what we can do to turn good intentions into outcomes. So what will we do proactively to create impact?

Organizationally, we are engaging outside help for education and guidance around hiring, communications and more meaningful engagement with our community. We stand with and support BLM efforts in multiple ways from financial support for local organizations to team members participating in local events and demonstrations.

From a content and influencer marketing standpoint, we have added steps to our marketing content creation process and influencer identification efforts. We’re committed to being more proactive about diverse representation of people of color in:

  • Agency owned media content: Images in blog posts, website, newsletter, news room, social media
  • In presentations: Conference decks, pitch decks, webinars, training content
  • In marketing campaign materials for the agency and clients: Interactive content, ebooks, videos, microsites, infographics, blog posts, social content and reports
  • Influencers for the agency and clients: Influencer lists, quotes, interviews, citations for earned media content, influencers engaged for events and brand content activations, paid influencers and influencer media buys

Beyond what our agency is doing with content and influencers, I have been able to make small but meaningful changes in my own content and when people ask me to recommend speakers, potential employees and consultants. Of course there is more and I have learned a lot over the past month and will continue to do so.

Being more inclusive about the diversity of people that are represented in marketing content and amongst influencers engaged is probably one of the most basic things a marketing agency can do to start affecting how people of color are perceived in the business world. It’s not the only thing we can do of course, but along with engaging in discussions with specialists and education amongst our team, it’s something we can do right now. I hope our agency peers in the industry are doing the same and more.

Lee Odden: @LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.
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