Yesterday, Autumn and I joined PRSA Phoenix and the Arizona Association of Black Journalists (AZABJ) for a luncheon about pitching diverse stories to the media. Attendees had the chance to hear from keynote speaker Warren Trent of Arizona’s Family about his thoughts on diversity in the media, and engage in a discussion about the value of diversifying stories and spokespeople to reflect a broader audience. Warren was also joined by Retha Hill of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Jamar Younger of Arizona Charter Schools – past and present presidents of AZABJ respectively – for an impromptu panel discussion.
Among the topics and ideas discussed, my main takeaway was that pitching diverse stories to the media should take the same amount of effort as your current pitches – just with more intention. The main goal is to try and reflect as many kinds of people in media as possible. As a PR pro, work with your clients to identify people of color as spokespeople, diversify your b-roll and stock photos on social media and be more aware of your unintentional biases and privilege. For example: If you are a white male, Black History Month or International Women’s Day may not be at the forefront of your mind. Embrace the categories you don’t fit in to and make sure to pitch as many angles as possible.
Another note to keep in mind is that having diverse spokespeople doesn’t justify selecting them exclusively for media opportunities about the “diversity conversation” – unless they’ve expressed interest. Utilize diverse experts in their field as just that – experts. Just because someone reflects a minority group doesn’t mean they always want to have a conversation about diversity.
Overall, be sensitive to the differences of other people and do your best to embrace diversity in all of its forms – including gender, sexual orientation, ability, age and more.
How do you diversify your pitches?