Special Guests: Bex Del Pizzo; Content Writer at WITHIN, Andrea Bustos; Account Manager & Marketing Assistant at Hustler Marketing, Mia Bobak; Technology Partnership Manager at Gorgias, Zachary Murakami; Talent Acquisition Associate at Yotpo, Jamie Leidelmeyer; Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands
Pride celebrations first began as small social gatherings and have since grown to be a worldwide movement. As popularity for getting involved in Pride Month has grown exponentially over the years, more and more businesses are joining in on the celebrations.
This also means that it’s easy to fall into the trap of “quick wins” to create a Pride Month campaign in an effort to keep up with competitors and consumer expectations. This often results in missing the mark of remembering the importance of Pride Month and can deter consumers from continuing to support your brand.
Today’s digital consumers are savvy, plugged into current events, and driven by their values— they look for brands that both meet their needs and authentically represent them. This means that while consumers want their favorite brands to take a stand on societal issues, they’re intolerable of inauthentic efforts. 66% of Americans say even if they love a company’s products or services, they will still cancel that company if it does something wrong or offensive.
“While audiences are looking for inclusive brands, they also know how to spot fakes. Don’t attempt to align your brand with something that can be easily proved disingenuous. Despite the rainbow explosion every year, consumers are still quick to call out those who talk the talk without walking the walk, by donating to anti-LGBTQIA+ organizations or allowing homophobic policies.” - Bex Del Pizzo (she/her), Content Writer at WITHIN
To ensure your brand doesn’t get caught up in an unsuccessful campaign, we connected with thought-leaders from WITHIN and Hustler Marketing, as well as pulled insights from our Pride Month: How to be a Conscious Corporate Ally webinar, to bring you seven ways to help ensure your brand runs an authentic and impactful campaign that goes beyond the month of June.
1. Partnerships and Collaborations
An impactful way to get involved in Pride campaigns is to explore partnership opportunities. If you’re stuck on inspiration for ways that your brand can support the LGBTQ+ community, forming a partnership with organizations or individuals can help you collaborate on ideas and create a campaign that is mutually beneficial.
Partner with LGBTQ+ Designers, Artists, and Influencers
Instead of launching a Pride collection with products featuring rainbow designs and colors, collaborate with LGBTQ+ designers or artists to create a collection that is more impactful and that you can share a story around.
In addition to promoting the collection, you can highlight the designer and tell their story either on your website or on your social media channels to give your customers a deeper, more meaningful look into the partnership. This will help expand your efforts beyond the month of June and showcase a true committment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community year-round.
“Taking action to elevate LGBTQ+ voices and giving them a platform to shine is a huge differentiating factor in being authentic in your efforts and getting involved just because you think you need to.” - Mia Bobak, Technology Partnership Manager at Gorgias
If you work with influencers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community or are allies, you can collaborate with them to promote the launch of your Pride collection as well. Influencers have a powerful platform for storytelling, education, and advocacy. Inviting them to work with you on your Pride campaign can help bring an entire new audience to your brand and to the designers and artists you may have worked with on the collection.
Collaborate with LGBTQ+ Owned Brands
You can also create a product collaboration between your brand and an LGBTQ+ owned brand. If you specialize in apparel and retail, for example, you could work with another brand to sell some of their products in your store. Or, you could work with them to create an all-new product that is exclusive to your collaboration together.
A recent study found that LGBTQ+ consumers are more likely than members of other groups to seek out brands that represent and include them, to reward brands that show sustained support of LGBTQ+ friendly media and causes, and to remain loyal to brands that are loyal to them.
This means that creating partnerships that go beyond rainbow-washing are more likely to demonstrate your commitment to the cause, as opposed to capitalizing on the occasion.
Partner with Nonprofit Organizations That Support LGBTQ+ Rights
Another option is to partner up with a nonprofit organization that is working to support the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for equality and inclusion. Examples of these organizations include Outright International, It Gets Better Project, and LGBTQ Freedom Fund.
In partnering with a nonprofit, you can highlight their mission-critical work through email and social media marketing to inform and educate your customers about the organization. By creating an evergreen partnership with a nonprofit, your brand can create an even larger impact for the organization that extends beyond Pride Month.
2. Charitable Support
In addition to forming partnerships, you can expand on the campaign to pledge a charitable donation from your brand. The best way to support a nonprofit organization or cause fund in a more meaningful way is to drive charitable donations to the cause all year long. You can then increase your donation amount for the month of June to further heighten exposure for the cause.
Many consumers are wary of a brand’s involvement in Pride Month if it’s not clear how the brand is taking action to advocate for the cause or make a positive impact beyond the month of June. By pledging to donate towards an LGBTQ+ cause, like ShoppingGives’ “Supporting LGBTQ+ Communities" portfolio, consumers are more likely to trust that your campaign is genuine.
Andrea Bustos, an Account Manager & Marketing Assistant at Hustler Marketing, shared that they typically don’t advise Pride-related marketing campaigns to their clients unless the client has a more meaningful activation planned around the cause. As an example, one of their clients chose to highlight that a portion of the proceeds from their Pride sale would go towards a nonprofit organization that works with disadvantaged trans communities.
“Most of our clients are aligned that reducing Pride to a day of rainbow-themed emails with discounts still plays into the idea of "rainbow capitalism" and that a community that needs support and allyship shouldn’t be used for pushing products for a day.” - Andrea Bustos, Account Manager & Marketing Assistant at Hustler Marketing
Aside from getting your customers involved in your Pride campaign, you should identify ways that you can get your entire company involved as well. Finding volunteer opportunities for your employees to take advantage of is a great way to create education around the importance of Pride Month and boost employee morale, all while making a positive impact.
During our Pride Month: How to be a Conscious Corporate Ally webinar, Zachary Murakami, the Talent Acquisition Associate at Yotpo, shared that Yotpo builds time throughout their organization for employees to volunteer and get involved in the local community. At ShoppingGives, we also encourage our employees to get involved in their communities by offering all of our employees paid time off dedicated to volunteering.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can do research to see if there are any LGBTQ+ centers in your area that your team can volunteer at. Or if your community is hosting any Pride-related celebrations, you could get your team involved by volunteering to help out at the event!
4. DEI Programs and Employee Workshops
Another great way to get your employees involved and to show your commitment to supporting Pride is to implement DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) programs into your business. A recent study found that 75% of LGBTQ employees have experienced daily negative workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ identity.
Ensuring that your employees feel seen and heard in the workplace is crucial, and putting programs in place to advocate for diversity and inclusion while preventing discrimination can help members of your team feel more comfortable and welcome.
Here are some ways you can ensure that your employees who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are advocated for at work:
- Educate your employees on what it means to be an ally and take time to learn about the historical, cultural, and political significance of Pride Month.
- Be sensitive and respectful of all gender orientations and identities by providing pronoun training.
- Host training sessions to educate employees on how to report discrimination.
- Ensure your employee handbook includes anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
- Offer more inclusive parental leave to accommodate LGBTQ+ individuals.
Hosting internal training sessions can help employees at all levels understand your company’s commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community as well as create a more inclusive environment that encourages open communication.
5. Education and Advocacy
Along the same lines of providing educational resources for your internal team, you can also use your voice as an organization to bring awareness around LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Instead of just promoting new products or sales around Pride Month, use your platform to educate your customers on the history of Pride Month.
While our society has come a long way in terms of LGBTQ+ representation, the fight for equality is far from over. 53% of consumers believe brands can do more to solve social problems than governments, which is why so many consumers look to brands to serve as advocates for societal change.
In using your platform to raise awareness for legislation that affects the LGBTQ+ community, provide education around organizations that are dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and advocate as an ally, you can create broader social change that will positively resonate with your customers.
Similar to sharing tools and resources with your internal team during DEI programming, you can provide similar resources to your community of customers to equip them with the tools they need to educate themselves on the significance of Pride Month. And if you’re partnering with a nonprofit organization to support the LGBTQ+ community, you can invite your customers to learn more about the organization and find opportunities to create their donations or volunteer their time to support the cause.
6. Inclusive Language and Representation in Marketing
LGBTQIA+ identity has risen to 5.6% since 2012, which means that providing representation in your marketing efforts year-round is crucial to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Implementing inclusive language, like using the singular “they” as default for gender-inclusive language, throughout your marketing copy and creative is an easy and effective way to lead by example.
You should also look at your marketing creatives and ad visuals and find ways to provide more representation for the LGBTQ+ community beyond Pride Month. A 2019 consumer survey by Google and The Female Quotient revealed 64% of respondents took action after seeing an ad they considered inclusive, and this number was even higher for certain groups such as LGBTQIA+ community members.
“Your audience loves to see themselves in your ads, and they’re thinking about others, too. But inclusivity doesn’t stop at your photo selection— examine all of your visual assets, from your UX design to any graphics and animation. Also consider how to represent diverse LGBTQIA+ identities that may not be immediately apparent, such as showing a same-sex parent family, or someone wearing a bisexual flag pin.” - Bex Del Pizzo (she/her), Content Writer at WITHIN
If you are choosing to drive promotions for your brand around Pride Month, remember to take your time and consider how the messaging and creative will resonate with consumers. Jamie Leidelmeyer, the Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands, explained that it’s important to remember from a company and personal perspective that “Pride” and “LGBTQ+” are but one identifier of a person.
“There’s not just gay people, trans people, people of color, etc— there’s a lot of overlap. So when we think about campaigns and messaging and how we’re talking about it from an inclusivity perspective, it’s really important to remember that there’s a lot of layers to a person. And that can feed into authentic messaging.” - Jamie Leidelmeyer, Head of Sustainability at Hive Brands
7. Host Webinars and Events
Another great way to authentically support the LGBTQ+ community is to host events and webinars that include members of the LGBTQ+ community.
As an example, you could host a fireside chat with one of your employees who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and invite them to tell their story to bring awareness to how others can step up and help advocate for equality. You could also host a panel discussion where you interview LGBTQ+ brands and together discuss initiatives that your brands are engaging in to support the LGBTQ+ community for Pride Month and beyond.
Events and webinars are a great way to create community engagement around a cause and will show your customers that your involvement with Pride Month goes beyond a rainbow product launch.
You’re Ready to Launch an Authentic Pride Campaign!
Now that we’ve covered some tactics and tips around getting involved in Pride campaigns, your brand is ready to get started on creating an authentic campaign that goes beyond the month of June. By getting your company, employees, and customers involved, you can create an impactful campaign that stands out against the competition while making a positive impact for the LGBTQ+ community!