With an ever-evolving media sphere, connecting with minority communities requires a mash up of traditional media, social media, and digital media, particularly because multiethnic populations are the fastest growing segments of smartphone and Internet users. Because an important part of crafting a company's message is being well-informed of what the target audience or community actually needs, a fourth component to connecting with minority communities is a focus on community relations.
Minority outreach relies heavily on community engagement. As the socio-political scope in the US changes to represent the increasing diversity of the country, minority groups continue to increase their share of political and economic power. To tap into this growth, companies will need to rely on an effective community-relations strategy that will not only garner trust within the community, but also ameliorate message delivery and effect a desired behavioral change, whether it is the purchasing of electricity or home owners' insurance, or adapting healthier eating practices.
To do that, corporations must connect directly with the minority communities they serve and ask them exactly what they need. Take a community poll. Solicit feedback via direct mail or the company website about what individuals want by way of community building. Knock on doors.
Research will lay a solid foundation allowing for the development of not only an informed community-relations strategy, but also the identification of valuable insights that will drive the PR and marketing strategy. Integrating community relations in the planning stage of a PR and marketing campaign will also allow for direction for crafting marketing materials and communications, as it will help inform copy writers and designers as to the direction and messaging requirements needed for the creation of appropriate marketing materials.
To meet the needs of the community, one must take the pulse of the community. Implement culturally relevant policies, programs, and events that aren't about pushing your product, but are obviously building and maintaining company and brand loyalty. Host forums on issues affecting LGBT and transgender communities, sponsor a town hall on the current state of the economy and its impact on African-American and Latino communities, partner with the local school district to produce tech labs in public schools.
What's more, the corporation must become a part of the community. The creation of jobs and other income opportunities benefit both the community and corporation's community relations goals.
Just as important as Twitter hashtags and viral videos is the opportunity to get in front of the minority consumer and say “How can I help you?” Then offer something tangible.
Megan Smith is principal of Brownstone PR. Find her on Twitter at @BrownstonePR and @MeganRSmith83.