A call for change: the communication field’s need for diversity

As communications professionals, we are charged with getting the views and objectives of our organizations/campaigns to the public sphere. Smart and ethical PR practitioners do this in a balanced, unbiased manner.

But the ethnic landscape of America requires more than just one point of view. It requires looking into more than the white, suburban, middle class family. Because marketing and public relations have become so complex due to being able to target specific markets down to a tee, a campaign designed from this one point of view is old hat.

Even if your target market happens to be “white, middle class” there’s power in understanding the differences that arise here. For instance, some in the white, middle class may very well be part of the LGBT community. Now imagine trying to create a campaign that reaches this specific demographic but making it so heteronormative that the people from the LGBT community are now alienated and removed from the message. Ethically speaking, this is wrong. And business-wise, this is still wrong.

Imagine you’re say… a fashion company who wants to hold an annual party and they think “Hey, let’s throw an Indian-themed party! Woo.” Wow, well if you’ve been following my blog, you know about Paul Frank’s Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow party. Do you think this would have been so easily constructed if say they had an actual Native person on their marketing team?

Do you think if KTVU had an Asian Executive on staff that the producers (or if there were an Asian producer at this station) would dared to name Asiana pilots “Captain Sum Ting Wong,” or “Ho Lee Fuk?

The answer is most likely no.

The communications field at-large needs a stronger representation of all minority groups. Journalism, marketing, public relations, media production, etc., all need to have that different perspective that creates a more all-encompassing message.

And no, this is not a “I hate white people” post. I do not want to remove white people from the industry all together. That’s ridiculous (but I have been accused of such things, hence needing to clarify).

This past week, I was encouraged to write a post about this from my current professor at Bonaventure, Shelley Jack. She’s noticed that I’m quite passionate about this based on my presence on Twitter. And she’s not wrong.

We talked briefly about the idea of shared experience and how this matters when it comes to diversity. We talked about how no matter how much research she does, as a white woman, she couldn’t really relate pertinent information to minority groups. There is an inherent difference is reading/learning about a different culture and being part of a different culture. When messages come from the outside, it sounds like you’re being talked to rather than talked with.

The Human landscape is filled with different art, languages, cuisines, experience, and histories. To market something as a small  homogenized group to a broader audience is, in my opinion, haphazard and shortsighted.

I call for a broader representation of people in the communication field because I think it’s incredibly valuable to recognize the many different perspectives that inhabit our country everyday.

I’ve taken a small first step this last summer as I paid for one half of a tuition for a student from the inner city of Buffalo (the only one) to take a journalism workshop. In the thank you letter I received, the student said he now has a much higher appreciation for the kind of impact words can have.”

It may have been a small step but reading that made me incredibly happy to have helped even just this little bit.

What do you think? What are some ways to make this happen? Does it need to happen at all? I’m open to your thoughts on this post!

Advertisements