Imagine you are suddenly faced with a condition that changes your life forever, that makes others look at you differently and your access to safety and prosperity is in question. How would this new reality impact the way you navigate the world? How would you wish to be treated by your friends, family and colleagues?
There is a vast amount of research that shows underrepresented voices and perspectives add value to business endeavors, policy creation and various other aspects of life. When we include diverse perspectives, it helps us consider potential outliers and drawbacks of our initiatives, which leads to more long-term success.
In 1997, American psychologist Marsha Linehan recognized that validation involved both empathetic understanding and communication. She acknowledged that messages of support can improve the psychological state of those facing an assortment of stressors by targeting their confidence and self-esteem, thereby reducing stress.
The benefits of inclusion, accordingly, promote sustainable solutions for society at large and contribute to the well-being of those recognized. The business campaigns, social initiatives and public announcements that PR professionals assist their clients in executing must consider these factors for longevity.
When public relations professionals advise their clients to be intentional about elevating underrepresented voices in a world that continues to be plagued by discrimination and violence, it shows respect and understanding. This display of consciousness can increase recognition and captivate clients and stakeholder trust, resulting in increased brand awareness and revenue. Most imperative, though, is the impact that representation can have on society.
The tactics used to tell stories in a way that penetrates the noise of existing public discourse are inextricably linked to our ability to better our world. When organizations doing incredible work to address societal issues use communication strategies that effectively articulate their mission, it can catalyze support and allow them to expand and enhance their services.
Not only does uplifting the voices of underprivileged communities have the potential to grant validation to those with similar experiences, but the increased support to those providing services can also supply disadvantaged individuals with increased access to resources.
It is also important to note that PR professionals must operate beyond using politically correct terminology as a PR tactic – we must do our due diligence in understanding intersectionality and context.
This entails securing media placements for those impacted by the services our clients offer and wish to speak up, making sure our clients’ messaging accurately depicts a holistic understanding of the complexities in the communities they serve and pushing our clients to pursue initiatives that are multi-dimensional in their approach.
We must execute these initiatives with respect rather than appropriation and exploitation. Performative consciousness is easily identified and can be the focal point of intense public scrutiny. In order to make real change for marginalized communities, we must be genuine in our approach.