Diversity Marketing with Fabiana Meléndez [Podcast]

Diversity Marketing with Fabiana Meléndez [Podcast]

The Importance of Diversity Marketing with Fabiana Meléndez

Moving Past Suggesting and Implying

Fabiana Meléndez has a clear definition for the work marketers and PRs do. “At the end of the day, we’re storytellers and communicators,” she says. “We take concepts that are not digestible for a mainstream audience, and we draw out the nuggets, so people understand what our clients do.”

As a Senior Publicist for the Austin-based agency Zilker Media, Fabiana uses her storytelling skills to help clients communicate with diverse audiences in their marketing. Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news lately understands why these efforts are more important than ever.

In this episode of the PR Talk podcast, host Amy Rosenberg chats with Fabiana about the intersection of diversity marketing and internal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and how that approach fits into a B2B marketing strategy.


What is Diversity Marketing?

Diversity marketing is about more than just having your ad copy translated into Spanish. Instead, it involves companies actively trying to expand their reach by considering aspects of different cultures and subgroups and incorporating them into their marketing. This isn’t a new concept, but it’s received renewed attention lately due to the Black Lives Matter movement and the widespread protests against police violence.

During this time, Fabiana and her colleagues at Zilker realized that many companies aren’t equipped to publicly address these tough topics. It’s one thing to handle these conversations internally through human resources or a DEI consultant. However, it’s another thing entirely to incorporate them externally and communicate company values through marketing. As a result, many companies become paralyzed and require qualified counsel to move forward.


Where Do You Even Start?

In Fabiana’s view, any initiative that tackles a difficult subject externally needs to start internally. As she says, “why would anyone listen to us if we’re not exemplifying what we’re marketing?” Before starting diversity marketing, Fabiana recommends seeking advice from qualified experts to make sure you’re doing it right. But this needs to go along with internal conversations to make sure everything is aligned because internal DEI feeds into external marketing. If internal practices don’t reflect what you’re trying to achieve externally, that’s when the message can fizzle out and get muddled.

Some companies are also afraid to go public with these efforts because they fear they’ll be seen as opportunistic or inauthentic. While these are certainly understandable concerns, they shouldn’t prevent a company from expressing their genuinely held values. Fabiana recommends that her clients not be afraid to put out a message about the work they’re doing, with a gentle reminder that they’re never going to please everyone. It’s okay to have fears, she says. But if a company never takes the first step, it could eventually be too late to even begin.


Diversity Marketing in B2B

While this marketing approach is most often associated with consumer-facing brands, B2B businesses should also consider how they can express their values in their external communications.

“B2B brands want to represent the companies they service just as well as consumer brands represent the customers who buy their products,” Fabiana says.

Companies that don’t embrace diversity risk falling stagnant. Even if a B2B company is marketing to a very homogeneous group, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a more diverse company out there that could do business with them. Also, company employees want to see themselves represented in the businesses and vendors their company partners with.

Diversity Marketing is Now a Necessity

Marketing and PR pros might have balked at addressing sensitive issues like diversity with their clients in the past. But as Fabiana frames it, “we’ve moved past suggesting and implying.” Diversity marketing is now a necessity, and as professional communicators, it’s the responsibility of marketing and PR pros to facilitate more challenging discussions with their clients and coworkers.

Amy and Fabiana have much more to discuss, including how to handle clients that are reluctant to discuss their diversity initiatives and why the word “publicist” has such dirty connotations, so click through to listen to the entire episode. As always, you can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Fabiana Meléndez

Fabiana Meléndez is a communications expert and strategic storyteller currently serving as a publicist for Zilker Media, an Austin-based agency building people-driven brands. As a publicist, Fabiana uses her industry expertise and passion to develop in-depth communication strategies and brand awareness for brands and their leaders. She counsels her clients on the best approach and practices to aid in achieving their personal brand goals while managing their media strategies and outreach.

Connect and follow Fabiana on social media:

Fabiana Meléndez on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Stakeholder Engagement with Ira Gostin [Podcast]

Stakeholder Engagement with Ira Gostin [Podcast]

Ira Gostin is Moving the Needle Through Stakeholder Engagement


Imagine a boutique that sells high-end women’s clothing on one end of the store and high-end men’s clothing on the other. As a marketer, you wouldn’t send the same message to both those groups because they have different needs and values and respond to very different trigger points. Instead, you’d craft messaging that resonates with each group individually. This, in a nutshell, is the concept behind stakeholder engagement.

In this week’s episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg welcomes Ira Gostin, chief strategist at Gostin Strategic, a marketing and PR consultancy focused on stakeholder engagement.

As Ira explains it, stakeholder engagement is about more than reaching customers. Instead, his process identifies critical stakeholders throughout the business and then crafts strategic messaging that reaches each group on their terms. For example, Ira’s firm does a lot of work in the industrial space, including oil, gas and precious metals. For those companies, relevant stakeholders could include customers, shareholders, potential shareholders, fund managers and the analysts who write about it. All of these people play an essential role in a company’s success. However, Ira’s outreach will look and sound different for each group.


How Do You Move the Needle?

For Ira, however, merely reaching these stakeholder groups isn’t enough. He wants his messaging to move the needle. To do that, Ira works with his clients to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow him to connect his communication strategy with real-world results.

This led to a conversation about access within an organization. Amy noted how marketing managers (who might typically drive the engagement with a third-party marketing or PR consultant) aren’t always plugged into top-level financial KPIs. As a result, it’s more difficult to judge what efforts are genuinely effective. Ira agreed and said that higher-level access is a critical component in creating meaningful metrics.

Ira only works with the C-suite now, because those executives have access to the financials that matter most. With that information in hand, Ira can build strategies and metrics that resonate with senior leadership. That leads to happier, long-term clients.


Can Press Coverage Move the Needle?

Of course, because this is a PR podcast, Amy wanted to know whether press coverage can be a useful tool to move the needle. Ira said that the quality and quantity of press coverage will always be an indicator. However, it’s never the first one. Instead, he focuses on measuring revenue or contact growth, because that means people are seeing the story and taking action in response.


Your Employees are Stakeholders. Don’t Forget Them.

Ira and Amy ended their conversation by talking about employee communication, which has become increasingly critical in the COVID-19/work from home era. Ira pointed out that employees are crucial stakeholders that too many leaders ignore. In times of uncertainty, it’s vital to check in with your employees and create safe spaces where they discuss how the world is impacting their work. The key here is to be warm and authentic in your approach to get past any awkwardness. It’s also okay to admit you don’t have all the answers because few of us do these days.


Subscribe to PR Talk Podcast for More Fascinating Conversations

Listen to the entire episode to hear more from Ira, including his favorite 1+1=3 approach to boosting outreach results. You can also connect with Ira over social media or through his website at iragostin.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to the PR Talk podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, iHeart Radio and Spotify for more fascinating conversations with industry-leading PR and marketing professionals.

You can also learn more about the latest communication practices by taking communication training that will leverage your knowledge and skills.

About the guest: Ira Gostin

For more than 30 years, Ira Gostin has guided companies in growth and corporate storytelling. His marketing and public relations consultancy, Gostin Strategic, focuses on stakeholder engagement in the form of investor relations, public relations, marketing strategy and brand development.

Connect and follow Ira on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Multicultural Marketing with Alexis Davis Smith [Podcast]

Multicultural Marketing with Alexis Davis Smith [Podcast]

It Shouldn’t Take a National Uprising: Alexis Davis Smith on Multicultural Marketing

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks in the United States. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police unleashed weeks of street protests and have caused many Americans to reflect on the role they play in perpetuating racism and inequality. This unrest and collective soul-searching have also reached the business world. Major brands across the country are now taking a hard look at their internal practices and realizing they’ve come up short in their inclusion and outreach efforts towards minority communities.

In this episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg chats with Alexis Davis Smith, CEO, and president of PRecise Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. Alexis and her firm specialize in connecting leading consumer brands with multicultural consumers, focusing on African American and Latinx consumers. As a Black woman, with over twenty years of multicultural marketing expertise, Alexis offers unique insight into how companies should approach this historic moment.

An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Alexis began her career at Ketchum PR in Atlanta, working with well-known brands like Delta, Nokia, and BellSouth. During her tenure, Alexis was also a founding member of the African American Markets Group, the first in-house multicultural team created by an international PR agency.

In 1999, Alexis left Ketchum to launch PRecise Communications because she wanted to practice PR on her terms. Although she initially planned on being a solo practitioner, her company grew quickly. Today, PRecise Communications provides strategic multicultural marketing counsel to brands like Toyota.


The Case for Multicultural Marketing

Too many brands treat multicultural communities as a marketing afterthought, or worse, ignore them altogether. However, the work Alexis has done proves there’s a strong business case for engaging multicultural communities. African Americans have $1.3 trillion in buying power alone, and by reaching out in the right ways, minority groups can drive profit, sales, and growth.

However, successful companies need to be doing more than just marketing to multicultural communities. Instead, they should be leading the fight to address racial inequity.

As Alexis pointed out, it shouldn’t take a national uprising for corporate America to want to step in and address societal and political issues. It’s simply the right thing to do. A critical part of leading in this area is for companies to examine how they promote diversity and inclusion throughout their organization. Companies that drag their feet will be challenged in the marketplace by consumers who increasingly make buying decisions based on how organizations interact with the community. It won’t be just about what these companies say, either. Consumers will also be making buying decisions based on what’s happening within a company.


Multicultural Marketing vs. D&I

This led Amy and Alexis to discuss the crucial differences between multicultural marketing and diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. As Alexis explained it, multicultural marketing focuses on consumers and external stakeholders, while D&I is about a company’s internal audience as well as recruiting and retaining. Both approaches are very important, and there is some natural overlap between the two focus areas. That’s why, over the last few years, PRecise has moved into the D&I space, to advise on rules and best practices.

Amy added that she believes external marketing is talk. While companies that are doing the real internal D&I work are walking the walk. As this issue continues to grow in importance in the culture and for consumers, Amy believes PRs need to flag D&I as a PR issue.

Towards the end of their talk, Alexis reminds us that the United States of America has a rich history of oppression, and for many people, those experiences are not that old. Corporate America is a microcosm of the country at large, so people bring their biases into the office with them every day. D&I and multicultural marketing are about being courageous and stepping out of our comfort zones to find something new and better that we might have otherwise missed.

For marketing and communications professionals, these issues should be at the forefront of their work. Alexis reminds us that if you understand your client’s consumer face and recognize that they’re not 100% caucasian, but your marketing strategies don’t include a nuanced approach to addressing those issues, then you’re not doing your job.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the PR Talk podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify. There’s more great content on the way that you won’t want to miss.


More From Our Guest

Listen to the entire episode for the full conversation between Amy and Alexis, including Alexis’ career advice for young, multicultural PR professionals. If you’d like to hear more from Alexis, subscribe to her podcast, Culture & Convos. In upcoming episodes, Alexis will cover the intersection between politics and black consumers. Follow @precisecommAtl on Instagram for more information.

About the guest: Alexis Davis Smith

Building on more than 25 years of experience, Alexis Davis Smith has established a reputation as a respected communications strategist and leader in the PR industry. She is president and CEO of PRecise Communications, a 20-year-old, award-winning Atlanta-based marketing communications agency.

Connect and follow Alexis on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Lauren Reed: The Coronavirus Pivot [Podcast]

Lauren Reed: The Coronavirus Pivot [Podcast]

How a Consumer-facing PR Agency Pivoted During Coronavirus

PR teams are at an advantage right now, putting our delicate messaging and story-telling skills to use. 

You may not think that now is the best time for a small PR agency to change direction, but that is exactly what REED Public Relations had to do. As stay home orders were given, so were requests to pause or cancel campaigns at Lauren’s firm. So in response, Lauren set up a free COVID-19 Hotline to help. In turn, even though her new office sits vacant, her firm had its best April ever.

Free PR Hotline

Did you read the New York Times article calling out a new PR pro for sending an inappropriate pitch? In addition to the chastising of one PR pro, the author also gave kudos to Lauren’s PR hotline.

The hotline was part of a pivot from the agency to provide value during a tough time. In addition to answering lots of PR related questions, hotline callers get a free consultation and mini-marketing plan.

As the country was entering the pandemic Lauren asked herself what industry could her firm really help? Based on their connections, experience and a huge need, she landed on senior living. By providing value from the hotline and free consultation, they are now helping several senior living facilities.


What should we be pitching right now?

Lauren says that now is not the time for your typical PR campaign. It is not the time for the hard sell, but that we should simply be available as a resource. Consumer accounts need to communicate how they are open for business and how they’ll keep everyone healthy. Pointing out that differentiating and branding doesn’t matter right now, the only thing that people want to know is how you are going to safely do business with them.


She tells PR pros that we can’t ignore the pandemic, but she also warns us not to over-capitalize through any pitching we might do that is tied to COVID-19. She adds that PR is actually positioned perfectly during times of crisis as we are used to taking delicate messaging and telling a storyputting us at an advantage.

Lauren ends her interview with her top discovery from the past couple of months:

“I knew I had a good team, a decent team…I didn’t know I had an all-star team until now.”

About the guest: Lauren Reed

Lauren Reed is the president and founder of Reed Public Relations in Nashville, TN. She is a professional with a passion for delivering top-notch results. Experienced creating and directing award-winning public relations campaigns that build and protect brands. Lauren is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, president of PRSA Nashville and recipient of the PRSA Nashville 2011 Mercury Award, which recognizes the market’s top young PR professional.

Connect and follow Lauren and Reed PR on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Gini Dietrich, Spin Sucks [Podcast]

Gini Dietrich, Spin Sucks [Podcast]

Spin Sucks’ Gini Dietrich is Worried for Our Industry:

Describing a Possible Takeover of PR

This week I hopped on the phone with Gini Dietrich, all the way across the country in Chicago. If you couldn’t tell from our conversation, we immediately felt like fast friends. Gini is best known for her role launching and leading Spin Sucks, which is a professional development hub for PR and marketing professionals. She is also the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a PR and communications firm that “runs like a well-oiled machine.”

At the helm of the very active blog that is Spin Sucks, Gini sends out newsletters every day to thousands of subscribers. There is also a members-only component called Spin Sucks Pro that offers PR and marketing courses online. What was originally a blog, Spin Sucks actually morphed into is own book, written by….drumroll please….Gini Dietrich of course! The book, officially called “Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age” is available on Amazon. As Gini walked us through her experience we discover that she honed her book-writing chops first with “Marketing in the Round,” which she co-authored with Geoff Livingston, also available on Amazon.

After talking about how these books came together in conjunction with Spin Sucks, running a firm, co-hosting the podcast, Inside PR, and how she manages to do it all with a small child, we delved into the true meaning of Spin Sucks — uncovering the various misconceptions PR people are faced when encountering the public. For Gini, the “spin doctor” reputation runs rampant, but I find that people exaggerate how fancy and fabulous PR jobs are.

We also discussed some very big topics like: what PR actually is, how it is different from marketing, and why it matters. But most importantly we talked about how worried Gini is for our industry.

Listen to her insight as she describes a possible “takeover of PR.” And new pro’s will most definitely be empowered hearing Gini’s one piece of advice for people coming up in the industry.

About the guest: Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is also the lead blogger at the PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, author of the book Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing In the Round, and co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about communications and social media.

Catch Gini speaking at these upcoming conferences: Content Marketing World, September 3 – 6 in Cleveland, Ohio and PRSA’s 2019 International Conference, October 20 – 22 in San Diego, California.

Connect and follow Gini on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Mac Prichard: Prichard Communications [Podcast]

Mac Prichard: Prichard Communications [Podcast]

Prichard Communications: Using superpowers for good

You wouldn’t intuitively think starting an agency during a recession is a good idea, but that’s just what Mac Prichard did in the spring of 2007.

On the brink of celebrating its 12th anniversary, Prichard Communications now has a team of five and may hire another this year. But Mac’s obligations don’t stop there. He founded and currently runs another company called Mac’s List and continues making connections with his Portland 10, a powerful networking event for social changemakers in Portland.

“I would say, in hindsight, a recession is a good time to start a firm if you’ve got the resources to do it and the flexibility,” Mac told me in our recent podcast interview recorded just before the holidays. “Because it’s a tough time to look for a job and it’s a good time to take risks.”

A young Mac’s 3 things

Even though he didn’t know it at the time, Mac was gearing up to run a mission-driven agency all along. He graduated college the University of Iowa with three goals.  

“I wanted to get paid to write. I wanted to work on election campaigns and I wanted to do human rights advocacy and I’ve done all three in my career,” Mac said. “I’ve worked for a human rights group in Washington, D.C. I was a spokesperson for the largest public works project in America at Boston’s Big Dig. I ran communications for a refugee resettlement agency in Massachusetts. I’ve worked for elected officials in Oregon, for both Earl Blumenauer and John Kitzhaber, and served as a spokesperson for four different state agencies.

“But the constant that runs through all these different jobs is they’ve given me a chance to work on issues I care about or make a difference in the community where I live and work.”

Political campaigns are the ultimate startup

He said his work in campaigns was great training for starting a business.

“It starts usually with a conversation around a kitchen table. And the money comes from friends and family. And there’s a product, it’s the candidate,” Mac said. “And on election night you know whether you had a sale or not and then you shut it down.

“After having created all these systems, hired people, presented a product, and sold it, you start all over again. I’ve been through that process about a dozen times. My win-loss record was about 50/50. So, I had my share of failures. But like a good startup culture, like the one in the Bay Area, there’s no stigma with failing. If you ran a good campaign, it’s just seen as part of the learning process.”


Finding your niche

Prichard Communications is a social change communications firm that works locally, as well as nationally. Their clients include the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation among others. They also work with purpose-driven brands, local governments and public agencies, including the City of Hillsboro, Clackamas County and the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District.

The agency is a Certified B Corp., meaning it’s thinking about the triple bottom line. “So, we not only think about the profit, but we also think about the community benefit, and environmental consequences of our work,” Mac said.

That is one of the many things I admire about Mac and his agency. I think with any successful firm, you need to get clear about the clients you want to serve. And the more focused you are, the better you’ll understand their needs and the better you’ll be able to serve them. It seems that the best firms always have a niche.


Beginning with the end in mind

Mac said they begin each client engagement by identifying the desired business outcomes their clients want and then work backward in developing a communications plan or project.

“And usually, they fall into one or all of three buckets,” Mac said. “Usually the organizations that hire us want to attract funding of some kind. Maybe it’s a grant. Maybe it’s increasing membership dues, bringing in some sort of revenue. The second bucket is usually audience growth. Maybe they want to bring more people to their website. They want a bigger audience. And the third is usually a policy change. So maybe they need help working with elected officials. There’s an idea they want to get in front of policymakers out there at the local or national level. So, whatever those results are. That’s where we start with our clients and we work back from those outcomes to build communications programs.”


The work is still about telling stories

If you’ve worked in PR and communications over the last 10 years, you’ve seen how much the work has changed. But some things have remained consistent.

“When I started my career, it was all about media relations and it was about getting past the gatekeepers to help the organizations and the people I work for tell their stories,” Mac said. “We’re still telling stories and helping our clients tell them. But now we’re making our own media or we’re helping our clients do that.”

Mac said a lot of what he and his team do is teach their clients how to do communications themselves. For example, they are helping the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation create a Grantee University, which will be an online learning platform that teaches the organizations receiving grants from the foundation how to tell stories.

“In the end, it’s going to increase the capacity of their grantees. And so that when a grant ends, they’re going to have the skills and the knowledge that they need to successfully tell their stories and get their communications results,” Mac said.


Running an agency

While Mac had a diverse career prior to starting Prichard Communications, it didn’t include the traditional stint in a PR agency. So, he faced a steep learning curve when he started his agency.

His advice? He’s a multiple year alumni of the PRSA’s Counselors Academy, which is a professional interest section within PRSA and, according to its website, “is dedicated to helping members succeed through access to collaborative peer relationships, meaningful professional development and education programs, and information on best practices in public relations counseling.”

“And that’s where I learned the nuts and bolts of how to run an agency,” Mac said. “It was transformational. I’ve gone five years in a row to that conference. It gives me a chance to work with other agency owners and leaders from all over the country and most of them are in very different niches. But the principles of how to run a successful agency are the same whatever your client base or the services you offer.”


Mac’s PR advice

I asked Mac if he had any advice for someone new to the PR industry. He said to connect with people in the companies where you’d want to work or who are doing the work you’d like to do. Go learn how the staff and the founders got where they are, what they are doing day-to-day and learn from those experiences.

“Think about what you’re passionate about. The issues that you care about. And where you want to make a difference,” Mac said. “And go to work for organizations, perhaps in the nonprofit world as a communications professional, that are doing the work you care about.”

About the guest: Mac Prichard

Mac Prichard is the founder and president of Prichard Communications, which was founded in 2007. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa. His career experience includes working for both Earl Blumenauer and John Kitzhaber and founding a second company called Mac’s List.

Connect and follow Mac on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

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