Pride Month: The Rules Of Engagement

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - We should not underestimate the power of consumer advocacy and the role identity politics plays in today's world. ​​ One of the communities that best understands this logic is the LGBTQ community. It supports companies that advances its causes and takes a stand against homophobia, denouncing companies that engage in discriminatory behavior.

Recent research shows that consumers increasingly want companies to address issues that are active in the news, and LGBTQ rights was cited by two thirds of respondents as a top business advocacy priority.

As we march along Pride month, companies that want to engage with the LGBTQ consumer public have an opportunity to reach out and show their support in a more visible way. It is important to remember, though, that it is not just about selling products and services to an economically, racially, socially and culturally diverse group. It is about connecting with a community whose members are very aware of their power and who, at the same time, are also aware that its political and social gains are still recent, therefore fragile, and often targeted by other groups.

For a business to court a particular community, it needs to understand its ethos, needs and aspirations. It also needs to engage with it in a way that is truly beneficial to the community. If all of that seems a bit challenging and confusing, fret not. Cone Communications, a PR company with strong focus on social responsibility, has compiled some valuable tips for those who are genuinely interested in LGBTQ rights and engaging with this community.

So here are some insights to help companies devise an authentic and effective strategy:

First, Cone says it is important to ‘elevate community voices,’ that is, to allow them to do the speaking. It mentions Spotify, which announced the creation of a Pride Hub dedicated to featuring LGBTQ talent. "Being an ally is all about listening and having empathy; Spotify saw an authentic tie to this within what their business provides and is helping their listeners easily find examples of queer culture they can support via this initiative," they say.

The second advice is getting informed and starting a discussion. Again, Cone provides a case study, this time from luxury gym and fitness club chain Equinox. Equinox teamed up with the LGBT Community Center to produce The LGBTQAlphabet, a viral film touching on some of the pillars of the community. Besides the video, the fitness company is also hosting events around the country to celebrate LGBTQ community members and their friends.

Next is giving back where it counts and Urban Outfitters is the company cited for its partnership with Chicago hip-hop artist and activist, Taylor Bennett, who created the UO Pride Collection. The line is an exclusive collection of graphics and hats celebrating Pride Month. Proceeds are all going to GLSEN, an organization championing LGBTQ issues within K-12 education. The campaign involves members of the community and puts out a clear message that social responsibility and acceptance trumps profit.

Finally, Cone says it is important to deconstruct stereotypes through genuine engagement. For example. an event at the Los Angeles Dodgers was designed to challenge toxic masculinity that is often associated with major league sports and which affects the LGBTQ community. The team hosted its annual Pride Night featuring same-sex couples on the kiss cam, besides several other attractions such as the National Anthem sang by a transgender chorus and the Varsity Gay League playing a kickball game in the outfield, besides others. The public relations company’ analysis is that the event has a lasting, year-round effect and helps forge a genuine relationship with the community, precisely the kind of engagement that is appreciated and expected from business advocates.

Happy Pride Month!

Image credit: Equinox