POINT OF VIEW For diversity to become real, it must be built into an organization’s DNA: It needs to be lived by each and every individual and needs to be supported at the highest levels of the organization. Considering that perception is reality, there’s hardly anything as effective and as important as a well-devised communications strategy in bringing diversity to life. That’s why we counsel a proactive approach that engages constituents in a variety of ways:
Times have changed. Today’s Millennial generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse in American history. They are not simply more accepting of pluralism; they demand it, because it aligns with their experience and understanding. It’s no longer sufficient to talk about diversity; it’s no longer enough even to embrace it. Diversity is the new normal, and organizations that don’t learn how to thrive within its framework will founder in the years to come.
“Diversity” is an evolving concept. Fifty years ago, it scarcely factored into how organizations positioned themselves. Then, in the aftermath of the modern civil rights and women’s rights movements, companies learned to weave the idea into their narrative. Even then, diversity too often meant tokenism—an obligatory nod to values that seemed in wide acceptance but were in actuality in scant practice.
1. THE CEO MUST CHAMPION THE MESSAGE: You have to have your CEO on board for diversity communications to be real, to have an impact and to be taken seriously. This is true in terms of engaging both internal and external audiences. CEOs and members of the senior leadership team must be your staunchest advocates and lead by example, otherwise your program risks losing credibility.
2. TURN EMPLOYEES INTO AMBASSADORS: There’s no better way to create excitement around your diversity initiatives than having your own employees become ambassadors of your programs. Use your ambassadors to engage with a broad
range of employees, have them become your eyes and ears as to what’s happening on the ground and what kind of impact the programs are having. This group is instrumental in pivoting and enhancing your programs in a way that will increase their impact and acceptance across the organization. Realizing the importance of ambassadors, organizations across Fortune 500 companies continue to expand efforts around Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which have grown to include segments representing Women, Hispanics, African-Americans, LGBTs, and Asian-Americans. ERGs are proving to be successful ambassadors to their respective segments.
THE PROCESSWith any successful communications effort, there must be a strategic, approachable and repeatable process for success. MWW’s six-point process for building awareness and increasing engagement for your diversity and inclusion efforts is outlined below:
ABOUT MWW MWW, a full-service public relations, public affairs and marketing firm, has more than 28 years of experience helping companies build eminence, strengthen employee engagement and build, manage and protect their reputations. Whether the goal is increasing the quality and diversity of your talent pipeline, encouraging greater employee engagement, or navigating a labor lawsuit or advocating for a specific legislation on labor/employee rights, we apply a mix of traditional and digital strategies that are culturally appropriate to your company and industry.
Our total stakeholder approach ensures that we are reaching your key influencers with the right messages across digital, social
and traditional channels. As an independent agency, we have the freedom and flexibility to deploy the right teams—regardless of their location or discipline—that provide you with the right mix of talent to realize your objectives. Because we’re the largest of the mid-size agencies, we have the ability to combine the resources and comprehensive services of a major national agency with the entrepreneurial spirit, agility and senior-level engagement of a boutique firm. As an example of MWW’s forward-thinking approach, we recently added an LGBT practice, which focuses on one of the most highly coveted and emerging segments in the U.S.
3. MAKE DIVERSITY MORE THAN A NUMBER: Change the conversation about diversity from a numbers game to more of a mindset to be lived. Do this by constantly demonstrating the value of diversity—not just in terms of race or gender, but also diversity of background, sexual orientation and thought. Display and promote the instances where diversity has made a real, positive difference for your organization and make that the hallmark of your organization’s culture. Once you’ve achieved that, the numbers will follow.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND; USE IT:
Leverage social media to interact and engage with both current and future employees and to broaden the penetration of your diversity programs. Feature your diverse workforce on these channels, highlighting their accomplishments and the value of diversity programs for their professional development. Create social communities where your employees can freely share experiences, exchange ideas and learn from each other. Make it useful, playful and interactive, and then watch your social channels take on a life of their own.
Employees are the universal touchpoint for all of your other constituencies. Their attitudes, actions and activism can have more of a direct impact on your reputation than any other group, particularly with the rise of peer-to-peer influence via social media. MWW takes a methodical approach to managing your reputation among employees. Using our proprietary tool, Employee IQ, we identify the perceptions and needs of your workforce and its divergent subgroups, then create customized communications strategies based on company culture and structure.
Stakeholders trust people, not companies. Although it is no longer required to have an “rock star” CEO, the value of executive eminence and thought leadership is not to be underestimated. Our proprietary, research-based CEO EquityBuilder methodology positions executives in the marketplace to advance the overall brand and reputation of an organization.
CEO EquityBuilder does this by identifying issues in corporate reputation management and customizing programs for all phases of the CEO “life cycle” (pre-CEO, new CEO and established CEO). This proven approach enables us to strategically elevate the reputations of CEOs and their leadership teams through platforms that resonate with employees, investors, customers, shareholders, influencers, regulators and community partners. We also train leaders so their messages are delivered effectively, are understood, heard and shared.
MWW’s experienced LGBT practice works with Fortune 500 companies to navigate diversity issues specific to LGBTs. Our marketing and communications programs are tailored to our clients’ specific needs and address issues such as talent acquisition strategies, crisis communications, revamping existing diversity strategies to expand scope, and exposing the country’s top tastemakers, media outlets and thought-leaders to your company’s expansion into the labor force and marketplace.
At MWW, we maintain deep, personal relationships with the outlets and reporters that matter most to our clients. Our team develops and cultivates extensive partnerships with top-tier business, consumer and trade media and leverages these contacts for our clients to further their communications objectives.
We provide an unmatched network of influencers and stakeholders— from analysts, professional associations and academia, to politicians, bloggers, diversity organizations and strategic industry partners—across all of our practice areas. We have the leverage to tap into the audiences our clients want to engage most, when they need it most.
MWW’s award-winning digital practice expertly influences conversation through emerging media and social networking technologies. Our team is made up of digital specialists, including social media and marketing strategists, creative digital designers, media planners, producers, programmers, and analysts. We place a high premium on analytics and have developed proprietary programming and listening tools that measure not just your share of voice, but your trust and relevance to current and potential stakeholders. Our point of view is simple: it’s not important to be loud, it’s important to be heard.
Government is not simply a remote entity that regulates and procures goods from you; it is a nerve center of national dialogue and influence.Because many of our professionals have worked on the other side of the equation, they understand how to matter more in Washington, DC and in the communities where government operates.
ISSUES MANAGEMENT & CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS
When it comes to crisis communications, the best defense is a good offense, which is why MWW developed the Crisis Action Protocol (CAP), a proactive crisis management methodology that encompasses vulnerability assessment, crisis planning and crisis management. We have also pioneered proprietary digital apps and social media tools to help clients manage a crisis across all communications channels.
+ To deliver the message about the importance of immunizations, the team created three distinct campaigns and designed advertising and other communication materials that were compelling by focusing on cultural and emotional triggers that motivated parents to seek healthier lives for their children.
+ The “Vaccines: Build Your Child’s Health” campaign used a building blocks theme that portrayed childhood vaccinations as a life stepping stone needed to create a better life for children. The Spanish language campaign—“Las Vacunas: Un Angel de la Guarda”—took a slightly different approach. Rather than simply translating the building blocks theme, our team trans-created the same message theme using strong spiritual imagery and messaging that portrayed childhood vaccinations as part of a parent’s responsibility to their children.
+ Additionally, our team secured five partnerships resulting in more than 20 in-store events at retailers such as Wal-Mart, H-E-B and Albertsons over the course of eight weeks. At these events, more than 10,000 creative pieces, including t-shirts, brochures, magnets and posters, were developed and distributed to Texas families.
According to the Texas Department of Health, the 2008 National Immunization Survey reported an 11% increase in Texas vaccinations. The state of Texas also has moved in the rankings from 41st to 24th in the nation. Because of the success of the program, it is now being funded for delivery to regions with lower-than-average vaccination rates in an effort to raise awareness there.
CHALLENGE Leading up to 2007, infant immunization in the state of Texas sat at mediocre rates for several consecutive years, increasing the risk of infectious diseases for the state’s general population. Our team was engaged to execute a bilingual, comprehensive campaign in major Texas markets that aimed to increase awareness about the importance of immunizations. The campaign was over a three-month period that included creative advertising production, media relations, a multi-million dollar media buy and community partnerships.
+ Developed an executive visibility program that drew on Ms. Allen’s learnings as a female leader, as well as her focus on ethics and work life balance.
+ Conceptualized an annual thought leadership survey, which become the core platform for our communications program...any and all internal and external engagements would be aligned under the survey theme around ethics and work/life balance.
+ Developed a speaking and awards program that supported our overarching goal of establishing Ms. Allen as one of the most powerful women in professional services.
+ More than 500 million media impressions in national print and broadcast media, i.e., NBC affiliates, The Financial Times, BusinessWeek.com and NPR, to name a few.
+ Our efforts led to Ms. Allen being ranked among Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women in the World” for four consecutive years.
+ Received a number of PR awards and accolades, including PRWeek’s Business-to-Business Campaign of the Year, SABRE, Big Apple awards, and more.
CHALLENGE Establishing Sharon Allen’s eminence as the first female chairman of the Big Four professional services firms and furthering Deloitte’s market positioning as these organizations committed to the advancement of female leaders.
RESULTS Thousands of Pfizer colleagues provided feedback on the value the channel—and the content on the channel—had to them personally and how they felt they were part of something bigger than just carrying out their specific job function. The channel created a stronger workplace culture than in years past and won several internal accolades. MWW secured placements in prominent trades and mainstream media Bloomberg BusinessWeek, DiversityInc, PINK magazine, Diversity Executive, Profiles in Diversity Journal, Working Mother, The Star-Ledger and The New York Times. Outreach earned the company spots on several reputable lists. Corporate Equality Index, DiversityInc’s “Top 25 Noteworthy Companies,” and Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.
+ Created the Pfizer “Diversity Matters” Channel—a web-based, interactive channel where Pfizer colleagues could share their own stories about how diversity helped their business unit become more profitable and/or positively impacted their own careers.
+ We created video reels and colleague testimonials to make it authentic and real.
CHALLENGE MWW worked with Pfizer to mobilize its global workforce and to break down barriers between business divisions to allow for greater collaboration, business decision-making and innovation.
+ Develop a new master narrative and key messages that focused more on entrepreneurial advice, practical guidance, and career counsel to promising young executives and business leaders, and less on his success despite humble beginnings and seven-year tenure as CEO of Def Jam.
+ Strengthen Liles’ presence in African-American media to heighten his current relevance with core audiences and longtime fans.
+ Utilize this renewed relevance to leverage Liles’ perspective on entrepreneurship to key business and influencer publications.
+ Build a social media presence that aligns with content focus and is appropriate for his stature to establish a direct pipeline to younger, diverse key audiences.
RESULTS+ Outreach to African-American press resulted in major profiles in key publications across the spectrum
of African-American, media including Ebony, Black Enterprise, XXL, and The Grio, as well as in Liles sharing the stage at BET’s SXSW panel with Kendrick Lamar.
+ From a more traditional business media context, Kevin was profiled in the New York Times “Corner Office” column; was profiled and frequently interviewed/quoted by Forbes in many stories regarding the music industry; conducted relationship-building meetings with the EIC of Fast Company, key reporters at AP and Reuters, and producers at MSNBC; and he did on-air interviews with Bloomberg Radio.
+ Despite already using Twitter for three years and accumulating just over 105,000 followers, within 12 months of consistent content development and regular posting, Liles built his audience of followers to over 225,000.
+ New master narrative and key messages resulted in improved pull-through and retention of value proposition with key audiences, with messages cited in outlets ranging from the New York Times and Forbes to XXL and Black Enterprise.
CHALLENGE Legendary urban music executive Kevin Liles sought to transform his reputation from hip-hop guru to serial entrepreneur following the launch of his own talent management firm.
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