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Craft More Inclusive Content and Marketing Campaigns Year-Round

50 min read

Take in these stats for a moment: A 2021 Gallup poll found that 7.1% of US adults consider themselves to be LGBTQ+. According to the 2020 US Census, the chance that two people chosen at random will be from different racial or ethnic groups has increased to 61.1% (from 54.9% in 2010). The World Health Organization reports that about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.

With the world continually becoming more diverse, it’s extra critical that brands take note, recognize what that means, and create content and campaigns that are more inclusive.

In this discussion, Jeff and Ian address:

  • Common mistakes marketers make with inclusivity
  • The impact inclusive campaigns can have
  • Tips for creating more inclusive campaigns
Webinar highlights

Show Notes

If you’re looking to establish diversity and inclusion as part of your business, but don’t know where to start, Ian thinks the smallest, but potentially most impactful step is to simply start the conversation about diversity and inclusion. The biggest selling point of being more inclusive in your marketing campaigns is that diverse communities have tons of buying power, and the more inclusive you can be, the more likely you are to attract those dollars and get those people into your fold.

When asked about prioritization and the challenges that represents, Ian response was that it goes back to the hiring processes, making sure that communities are represented, and having people on your team that are a part of those communities. This will naturally manifest into other conversations, into other opportunities, and so on.

To be successful at inclusion and diversity, you have to make it a lived and breathed part of your entire company. You have to avoid flavor of the month syndrome and make it a mid to long term initiative that everybody’s always thinking about.

Ian believes the biggest problem that can come up is that folks approach diversity and inclusion efforts as the flavor of the month. If you’re not thinking about how those people are making contributions year round, you won’t come off in an authentic way.

Simple things that can make a difference include using gender neutral pronouns in your copy. Use partner instead of girlfriend or boyfriend during Valentine’s Day, and make conscious efforts to depict the world that you see around you.

When asked about business that are taking an authentic approach to diversity and inclusion, Ian thinks it has a lot to do with the communities that naturally belong to certain services and products. Beauty brands do a really good job with diversity and inclusion, as do clothing brands, especially D2C clothing brands.

One of Ian’s favourite examples is Atomic Gold. They’re trans-owned and offer size-inclusive, gender-neutral jewelry. Sprout Social is another one he points out because “they have very clear policies on their site. They write about it all the time. They publish about accessibility. Have that visual representation in their imagery.“

The conversation shifted to employee resource groups with Jeff wanting to know more about Ian’s experience with creating them and the challenges they face.

Ian revealed that starting an employee resource group was something that he’s done at a few companies he’s worked at. He explains that it’s a “group of folks who identify as a particular identity… getting together and creating a safe space for people to have conversations and talk about what they’re feeling.”

Employee resource groups are empowering to employees who want to advocate for themselves, but Ian cautions that it’s not a burden that everybody wants to take on. But when there is an interest for it, and there is somebody who is willing to take on that burden, it is really helpful.

At previous companies, Ian found that having conversations about inclusive language helped “attract new talent, retain talent, and get the conversation going about inclusive language.”

Ian thinks employee resource groups are a big benefit, and you can use them as sounding boards for policies. In one case, describing how “we worked with our HR team to make our insurance policies as inclusive as possible, and we updated our trainings to make them more inclusive.”

Jeff was curious about how Ian ensures content respects diversity and inclusion, wondering if it’s something included in the creative brief, checked after receiving a draft, or included in a developmental edit.

In Ian’s view, you need to consider this from the very outset. If you’re writing on a topic that has inherent overlap with diverse topics or gets into some of the diverse communities, do the research to find out what language to use.

He points out that “Google has some really great resources on their all in page, it’s called Google All In… and it starts with your team, making sure that everybody on your team is as diverse and inclusive as possible. The accountability piece is really important, and it can be really uncomfortable to call something out.”

When asked how to go about prioritizing a group, Ian responded, “I don’t think there’s a right answer.” However, he suggests starting with one group and then expanding from there would be an opportunity. As an example, start with pride, Black History Month, LGBTQ plus employees, or black employees and then expand as time and resources allow.

Jeff mentioned that it really does show that anyone can get started on this, and you’re not doing it in a way that’s inauthentic. Speaking about inauthentic campaigns, Ian Helms says that “if your campaign is simply to check a box or get some PR, you’re probably not gonna get the reaction that you want. Instead, make it a general guide for everything that you’re doing.”

Featured Guest

Ian Helms

Director of Growth Marketing, Q.Digital

LinkedIn Twitter



Jeff Coyle: Welcome to another MarketMuse content strategy webinar. In our content strategy webinar series. I’m Jeff Coyle, the co-founder and chief strategy officer for MarketMuse. In today’s discussion’s really exciting. It’s how to, how and why to craft more inclusive content and marketing campaigns year round.

And I love that it says year round. We’re gonna get into that. And my guess is one of the most awesome people on this subject, but before I do get into that little bit of house ask us anything if it’s related to our discussion and we can address it in line. We may get to it just in the natural course of our conversation.

If there’s anything that, doesn’t fit we’ll save some time at the end and answer them in that rapid fire motion. When you get, you’re gonna get this replay in the next couple days. When you do certainly download it, share it but also go to the MarketMuse dot com site and go check out our webinar archive.

We’ve got hundreds of them in there from amazing folks on artificial intelligence like Chris Penn Paul Reiter, who runs the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. And we’ve got topics of all kinds sales enablement with Pam Diner, keyword research. Last two weeks ago with Dimitri Draga Love.

So you got anything you possibly want? We probably have a webinar on it, so go check that out. Alright, those are my housekeeping notes. I’m gonna introduce the director of Growth marketing from Q Digital Ian Helms, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about your role at Q Digital and how you got into that role.

Ian Helms: Thank you so much. Yeah. So I’m Director of Growth Marketing at Key Digital. Like you. My pronouns are he, him or they them interchangeably. And for those with any visual access needs, I’m a white male presenting person with a semi wavy brown hair that’s a little longer on the top and shorter on the sides.

My dog, a tan 20 pound chihuahua mix, named trip is currently lounging in the background and may or may not make an appearance or stir as we talk. And I’d also like to start today by Celebr. International pronouns day and inviting any attendees to share their pronouns in the chat or when you’re asking a q and a to include your pronouns so we can respond more accurately.

But yes, to get to, to get back to your question, Jeff I was previously in a role as a director of content marketing at a company called W Promote, which is a performance marketing agency. Got really into. Our employee resource group sort of ecosystem created an LGBTQ plus employee resource group there.

Started speaking on inclusion and then was discovered along the way by, by my now boss and the CEO of Q Digital while I was tweeting about inclusive marketing on Twitter, of course. And and then that combined with my passion for seo, content marketing and just my. Marketing and PR background made a great fit for what’s now essentially a dream role of mine to combine all of my passions for lgbtq plus advocacy.

And help us build our baseline traffic through things like organic organic search efforts, and then expanding that into all of our other channels, email, social, what have you as well. That’s the longest short of it, .

Jeff Coyle: No, and it’s always wonderful when someone says they have their dream role.

It’s really awesome. And please follow we’ll get to our social stuff little bit later, but it’s it definitely Awesome. Awesome. Tweet Twitter. We were talking about some of your tweets from this week, and we’ll probably get to a few of them a little bit later. Yes.

But a little bit just to get into the first kind of thing that I wanted to ask about is a lot of our po people that listen are in small to medium, maybe as, as large as small enterprise or traditional companies that when, if they haven’t even considered diversity inclusion as part of their business.

But maybe they want to, if they’re listening to this webinar, they probably are, at least it’s peaked their interest at some level. How do you make that a priority? And what benefits would be easy to position to a business that maybe hasn’t prioritized


Ian Helms: Yeah. Yeah. I think the smallest, but one of potentially the most uncomfortable, but also most impactful steps is to simply start the conversation.

I know that. Especially like you said, in a smaller company or in a more traditional industry, talking about diversity and inclusion can be a really difficult or un like taboo in a sense topic to go over. And so just having the conversation bringing it up is a major step in the right direction and one that can get the juices flowing hopefully with leadership.

And I think. too The biggest selling point, which I know we have a slide for, is that there’s just a ton of value that comes with being more inclusive in your marketing campaigns or just even in the the overall company like internally as well. Buying power of diverse communities is huge.

This slide is based on 2020 US census data. And you can see that. Different diverse communities have tons of buying power added all together. Hispanic, black, LGBTQ plus Asian, and people with disabilities have over 40% of total US buying power. If you factor in women, I think that ends up at doubling the number of buying power as well too.

And so the more inclusive you can be, In representation in making sure that people feel like they’re welcome to shop at and be a part of your brand and your company, and your services and your products the more likely you’re gonna be able to attract those dollars and get those people into your into your fold in an authentic way that then gets them talking about your business to their friends and therefore, It does some of the marketing work for you as well too.

Jeff Coyle: If the way that your business manifests maybe online or in kind of real life space is driven by your marketing team or your content team you know how, a lot of times you’ll have a wing of the business has some diversity, but as the marketing team, the stuff that’s gonna manifest online, even product marketing how do you prioritize that within the company and say, Hey, this is our content team, this is our marketing team. It’s probably going to represent how we manifest into the world. Is that something that’s separate or is it combined as

an effort?

Ian Helms: Y Yeah. It goes back to hiring processes, right?

, like you need the best way to have inclusive messaging to make sure that you’re thinking about things in an inclusive way to communicate to. Communities in a more authentic way as well, is to have people on your team that are a part of those communities as, as much as possible. It’s not always possible to have every single demographic necessarily represented, but it’s something like 20% of the US population is.

Do you have, two out of 10, one out of five, I guess that’s the lowest uh, number one out of five people at your company. Are they Hispanic or not? If not, can you get closer to that so that you have those more unique and accurate depictions of the world around you internally as well?

And then that will naturally, hopefully, manifest into other conversations, into other opportunities. And so on and so forth. It’s like the fact that most CEOs and most C-level folks are white men. That’s not that’s not great when we’re talking about being inclusive and making sure that communities are represented and making sure that people feel comfortable to have a seat at the table because it, the, that sense of belonging and that sense of inclusion comes from the top in many cases.

And to put the burden solely on the people that you’re hiring also isn’t gonna be successful necessarily. It needs to be very much like a lived and breathed part of your entire company. And having that accountability is also a really important factor that people should be able to feel comfortable.

Again, having those more difficult conversations around inclu inclusion and diversity as. . Yeah, I you mentioned,

Jeff Coyle: Starting the conversation and then, the teams that are representing how the business is gonna be represented, not just the number of employees have, the need for consideration on these things.

know, What, how do you make this not be a short term thing, like a small campaign or a thing we did to check off the box, which is terribly, unfortunately and and make it a mid to long term, initiative that, everybody’s always thinking about, Cause that’s really the thing that I, you know, frequently unfortunately, judge when I’m looking at businesses and I see, is this an always on thing or was this a a flavor of the month, unfortunately.


Ian Helms: Yeah. No, I think that’s a really great point. It, I think the biggest problem that can come up is. Folks approach diversity and inclusion efforts, especially in marketing campaigns as the, as what you said, the flavor of the month. June is pride month, so let’s make sure we have a rainbow logo.

February’s Black History Month. So let’s make sure that we highlight some of our black employees like October, September through October is Hispanic Heritage Month. Let’s focus on some Latinx change makers. It’s not, It’s great to have representation and to talk about those things when they’re especially relevant.

But if you’re not thinking about how those people are making contributions year round, like the title of this webinar says you are, you’re not gonna be, coming off in an authentic way. And I’m obviously as I described myself earlier, a white Cisgender male presenting person as well.

So I definitely don’t don’t, and can’t speak for every single minority group and even the diverse, all of the alphabet soup, that is the lgbtq plus umbrella as well. But thinking from more of the queer perspective that I bring, coming in with things like gender neutral pronouns in your copy. Both in your blog posts, in your emails, Not assuming not making the mistake of assuming that every couple that shops your products, if you’re an e-com or D2C retailer, is in a heterosexual relationship using things like partner instead of girlfriend or boyfriend during Valentine’s Day.

Things like yeah, making sure that when you’re going into creative photo shoots and. Getting these images from places that are hopefully not just based on stock imagery that you’re making these conscious efforts on a daily basis to again, depict the world that you see around you, not the world that you’re familiar with necessarily.


Jeff Coyle: I think that, something, I think we, you think of the stock photos was a comment you made. But also, are, when you do persona analysis as the marketing team, are all of those personas of. Of one race or of one gender. Even getting into does that represent that you maybe have a mismatch in

Ian Helms: your perspective, right?

Exactly. And to one another diverse community on here is based on age. There’s a lot of ageism in the world. There’s people who forget that’s like a huge market as well too. And when you’re talking about B2B SaaS companies that are disruptors and they’re making. Huge changes in technology, and they assume that all of the people that are reading their content are, fresh out of college young folks or whatever.

And that they forget that the internet’s been around for years and that lots of other people have significant backgrounds and experience and the way things were before they got to where they are and, You can forget that when you’re talking to those communities or when you’re putting together a campaign and assuming that people do or don’t know what they do or don’t know when that might not actually be realistic.

Jeff Coyle: No I think that’s a great point. And yes, the internet has been around for a while. There’s enough of us. And if you unfortunately or fortunately follow SEO Twitter, you’d know that ageism is a daily Yes. That, that we, that everyone deals with in that world. But that’s another topic for another day.

Yes. . The if we talk about SEO Twitter, we will be,

Ian Helms: that’s real goal that we do not want to, and then never laugh.

Jeff Coyle: One, one thing I’ll say though is when you look at someone who’s doing this well, right? What types of businesses pull this off authentically now and examples Sure.

But do you see a typical business who is almost always at the forefront and then maybe, exceptions in the middle. And then, kind of ones that just don’t even.

Ian Helms: Yeah. Yeah, I mean I think it has a lot to do with, I am trying to think about the best way to answer this.

I think it has a lot to do with the communities that naturally belong or flock to certain services and products. I know we’ve talked a little bit about this previously, but beauty brands do a really great job with diversity and inclusion. Clothing brands, especially d to C clothing brands do really well.

I think places that are more internet native have always been a lot more inclusive in their practices. I, there’s a jewelry brand called Atomic Gold that I love out of, that’s based out of New York. They’re trans owned and they have size inclusive, gender neutral. Jewelry because they haven’t been able to find that previously.

And so it’s people that are coming up and solving these problems, especially too, even in like the tech space that, that don’t see themselves represented or don’t have the access to the products or solutions or services that they need that are then being really great examples of how to do inclusive marketing.

Companies like, I think Sprout Social is a great one when you’re looking at diversity and inclusion. They have very clear policies on their site. They write about it all the time. They publish about accessibility. Have that visual representation in their imagery. The people that are posting on their blog and the, that you see aren’t are diverse as well too.

And so you, without, I think going back to the last question too, without. Being blatantly obvious and doing like a pride campaign for the sake of pride. You can see it’s unspoken. You just see these things and it feels right and it feels authentic without them having to say, Hi we value diversity and inclusion.

And and here’s some examples that we’re highlighting because we feel the need to highlight it. Doing it without making a show of it. And that makes it even more more real in that sense. I think

Jeff Coyle: That’s, I think that’s the tip of the day for anyone. It’s, I’ve heard it stated as you, meaning the person listening to it.

You don’t have to notice it. You don’t have to notice it for it to be valuable. Exactly. And for it to illustrate authentic. It’s not, like you described before, using appropriate pronouns within the language. Valentine’s Day was a great example, speaking about partner.

If someone isn’t keyed in, you may read that and not even notice it. Exactly. And, but there’s amazing amount of value to that because that’s what authenticity is. It’s just that becomes part of you and the way that you speak. I’ll give you an example of my experience here is I did a a.

A research effort with Content Marketing Institute. It was about words that one shouldn’t say. And mine was SEO content because I think it debases SEOs and says that they’re lower than content. But a one that I read was North Star. Don’t use North Star because you’re basically alienating the entire Southern hemisphere.

And I said, Oh my goodness. So another thing that I got, I was like, Oh gosh, I’m alienating the entire North Star. Cause I say that all the time. And so another thing about this, I think. Everyone in the business needs to be okay having maybe been wrong in the past. Does that get into it?

Ian Helms: Yeah.

Yeah. No, that’s a very good point. I’ve gotten this wrong before. I’m, like I said, I’m one piece of the colorful fabric that makes up the community, and I certainly haven’t said or done always the right, the fully, most inclusive thing in the past, just because. Sometimes it’s resource limitations, sometimes it’s knowledge limitations.

But as long, I think the key that you’re getting at is as long as you’re learning and growing, acknowledging those mistakes making a con conscious effort to not repeat them, obviously. Those are things that are gonna go a long way. And you might think that they’re silly.

I think that’s one of the biggest arguments that I always. Not just in my work life, but with family and friends as well. Is there Oh God, now we can’t say North Star or whatever. Oh, the, those people in the southern hemisphere are so sensitive or whatever. That’s right.

Not accurate necessarily in the sense of it’s a little bit like extreme to, to say that everybody in the Southern hemisphere would be offended by that, but Right. The more, Yeah. Yeah. But the more inclusive that you can be. The more just like the more beneficial that is. I, one of another anecdote that I can share is I’m plant based.

I eat essentially a vegan diet, and the issue that I have when I go to restaurants is that vegetarian is not vegan, but vegan is vegetarian. It’s like a, it’s like squares and rectangles. Like some all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. If you can achieve the square, anybody will be able to.

To be a part of that conversation, community effort that you’re engaging. And the more that you go out of that the less inclusive that you are being and the more issues that you’re gonna ultimately run into when it comes to being called out for making mistakes or just ignoring communities altogether, which is, I think it’s worse to not try.

And to ignore communities than it is to try and make a mistake and then, make up for it later.

Jeff Coyle: I think that’s words of wisdom and, getting into that. I think that speaks to. Maturity model of your business with respect to diversity inclusion, and you spoke about, start the conversation is one thing, so that maybe that’s step one.

What are the things that, and you also mentioned that you led a employee resource group. If someone is not aware of what an employee resource group, what is that? And then what after that, what are the things that you look to to implement or like milestones that would illustrate? One is on. .

Ian Helms: Yeah.

Yeah. Internally and externally.

Jeff Coyle: Yeah, I would say more internally is what I’m referencing. But yeah, externally is also a whether that involves surveying, whether that involves, other types of focus. Yeah.

Ian Helms: Yeah. They go hand in hand as well too. Yeah, starting an employee resource group was something that I’ve done at a few companies that I’ve worked at now.

Thankfully at Q Digital. LGBTQ owned and operated, and basically being an employee here is just being a part of a diverse group of folks that are like me. So I haven’t had this, we don’t really have the need to start an LGBTQ employee resource group here, but it’s essentially a group of folks who identify as a particular identity, whether it’s LGBTQ plus or black or Hispanic or Asian.

Getting together and creating a. A place, a safe space for people to have conversations and talk about what they’re feeling. And that might be from an equity perspective, it might be from just current events that are happening in the world. It might just be from holidays. Like I kicked off today with International Pronoun day.

And just bringing more awareness to that because. People don’t know what they don’t know. And having those employee resource groups are really empowering to allowing the employees who want to advocate for themselves to, to have a, an opportunity to do that. And I was careful about my choice of saying want to, it’s not.

It’s not a burden that everybody wants to take on it, and it is a burden essentially. For lack of better words to start an employee resource group. I didn’t get paid extra to have right, to do any of the employee resource groups that I led. It was essentially volunteer time on top of my normal 40 hour, day to day.

I still had really awesome panels. Events and communications on a monthly and quarterly basis that I ran. In some cases I was able to get budget for opportunities for events and swag or whatever else we might wanna have associated with those. But it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always readily, freely available.

But having those employee resource groups when there is an interest for it, and there is somebody who’s willing to take on that burden. It is really helpful. It’s helped at previous companies attract new talent, retain talent get the conversation going about inclusive language.

We were talking about that a little bit ago, one of our, one of the former clients of mine in a previous role was a women’s, Sorry. It they previously branded themselves as like a surrogacy. They were a service surrogacy. Service and all of their emails were about women and she and her and and using very female only pronouns and language.

And by having conversations through our employee resource group, the account manager on that team approach their marketing team, their counterparts at the company to say, Hey, like not everybody who has female reproductive. Identifies as she, her or as a female could we make this language and our communications not be gender based?

And they were super receptive to that. But if it wasn’t for the event that we had where we talked about pronouns and we talked about why inclusive language matters they likely wouldn’t have thought about that anytime soon. And it would’ve never been a change that had been made. And now it’s been a really exciting and.

Successful part of their inclusive sort of journey into maturity. I think to elaborate a little bit more, after employee resource groups, a big benefit of those as well is to use them as sounding boards for policies. We worked a lot with our HR team to talk about our insurance policies as inclusive as possible.

And trainings we had. Bias training that used. He, him or they or she, he or her, like all the time throughout the training. And we’re like, Why does this have to there? It’s so much more cumbersome for them to record this and say he or her than to just use, they instead, . And there were some other pieces that we had called out that our HR team then escalated to the training service that we were using that then got them to update their videos to make them.

More inclusive as well. And so consulting those folks who are there, who again, want to, because you don’t want to just tokenize or have somebody like call them out for their diverse perspectives if they’re not necessarily wanting to be the face of their community because that.

It’s a lot to, it’s a lot of pressure to, to have, and there’s probably things that I’m saying even here today that I’ll, that other people might disagree with who are a part of the lgbtq community or otherwise. But again, that’s part of why this conversation I think, is important. And why why I’m happy to be here today.


Jeff Coyle: it’s amazing. It, it illustrates. Certainly, have to be, have to have humility in this and recognize that, that, what we look at even today, even five years from now, may change what the, on the forefront of doing this in a way that’s appropriate for for an inclusive.

That can change. If you look at maybe someone who led this initiative five years ago at a business their things, their. Even a top maturity team possibly would be, considered only in the middle of the group right now,

Ian Helms: yeah. Absolutely. And there’s lots of, I think there’s lots of resources out there that folks aren’t aware of because there’s an, you need to, want to do this to be able to do it successfully.

And there are people, there are consultants, there are plenty of organizations that offer free resources as well. How to do and communicate well and most effectively. The human re human rights campaign has a corporate equality index that they release every year that ranks companies on a scale of one zero to 100 in terms of how inclusive that they are with their lgbtq plus related policies and workplace environment.

And the goal isn’t the goal. The ultimate goal is to get a hundred. By going through the process of trying to meet all of the criteria and get to a hundred, it helps you identify what you’re not doing as well as possible. And again, it’s okay not to have everything right and in place immediately, but you won’t know what you don’t have in place until you actually try to get there.

Jeff Coyle: So from a content perspective, a lot of the people. On our group, obviously content strategy, content marketing from a content perspective, what is it? A checks and balances process, Let’s say you don’t have that type of inherent diversity in your, the sourcing of content or you’re outsourcing location.

It’s just maybe not possible for the way that you outsource your, to your, to a writing network. Do you, is the process to, have that as part of your creative. Or your content brief? Is it a check and balance after you’ve received drafting? Is it part of the developmental edit? What are things that have

Ian Helms: worked?

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s being you’re spot on. It’s being cognizant of it from starting out to the final product. If you’re not thinking about it from the beginning, it’s to use your taboo word, SEO content. If you’re creating SEO content, or sometimes people create content and they’re like, Hey, Inject some SEO into this, and I’m like, It’s too late at the end usually.

Like we can’t just shoehorn some keywords in all the time and make that post suddenly rank on page one because it wasn’t created in the beginning with SEO in mind. And that’s an issue. The same applies for inclusion and diversity. If you’re writing on a topic that has inherent overlap with diverse topics or Gets into some of the diverse communities that we talked about, and you don’t have somebody on your team that represents that.

It’s important to then do the work, to do the research, to find out what does this what are the nuances in the language that might need to be used or not? What are the keywords that might vary here versus versus what we might assume that we could use. And you’ll be surprised often what you might find as you start Digg.

I worked with a pharma company once and we were working on some campaigns for them. And their target market for the particular campaign was 65 plus folks. I’m certainly not a 65 plus individual. But by going through and doing some research on what competitors were doing and just like immersing myself in the content that was out there that was communicating to these communities, I was learning.

The difference between elderly and geriatric and 65 plus and older, and what the nuances for each of those words necessarily meant, and whether or not those words were targeting individuals versus like doctors versus just other people that are working in the space. And we were able to then use that to craft a better content brief so that the writer knew what language to use or not.

And then also on the flip side, to your point, that. We were editing it and it went to our editors that they were also aware and could see that in the content brief as well, and help add that extra check-in balance as well.

Jeff Coyle: Yeah, I think I read in a study, I don’t know the source, so I have to look it up afterwards, the average individual above 65 does not like the use of the word.

right? And then, and so different types like that. And my parents, yet they don’t like to be called senior. And I know that because they’re, and they’re over 75 and and so yeah, I see that and I, and how does that manifest in your messaging? And so with the content team I.

Similar to the, By the way, when you said SEO content, your dog shifted . He knew he or she knew,

Ian Helms: he felt the,

Jeff Coyle: he felt that. He was like no. We’re not doing a diversity audit on every page. So guess don’t do your, the answer isn’t to do it diversity audit to on every page. It’s certainly to think about it earlier on, but I guess maybe that’s a minimum it would be a diversity or inclusion on it.

Yeah. So that people are at least are learning from that developmental.

Ian Helms: Yeah. Google has some really great resources on their all in page, it’s called Google All In. It’s their essentially inclusivity hub. It starts, I think the four points, and we’ve covered a lot of these already, is starts with your team, making sure that everybody on your team is as diverse and inclusive as possible, but if they’re not, making sure that they’re well read and in on a lot of, that they’re thinking about things in the right way going into their day to day work to incorporate this into their strategies on a regular basis, to make it a daily practice essentially, and not just an afterthought like we’re talking about now.

Then the next step would be creative and copy, and making sure that all of that’s very much as diverse as possible. And then the accountability piece that we already talked about a lot too. I think that’s one. It can again, be really uncomfortable to call something out. We’ve had some conversations here at Q Digital about whether or not to include the plus sign on lgbtq, the acronym.

And that’s very much the plus is always and any other community underneath the queer umbrella. It’s implied nowadays, which is like the argument, like when you say lgbtq, it essentially imply. And everybody else. But of course historically the everybody else wasn’t always fairly represented.

I think even in Europe, they still use LGB and don’t always include the T, which is not, they’re excluding the trans community in those conversations and that’s not okay. And so having that plus I think is still, it’s controversial even within our community. And I think that fairness to both perspectives when it comes to why or why not.

You might wanna include the plus or not, but having those conversations and being uncomfortable and hearing each other out is a big piece of it.

Jeff Coyle: Yeah. I think, thinking about the, like you mentioned, that’s more like a, is it a catch all, catch-all appropriate? You look at other cultures and even languages, you in, in Latin languages with masculine and.

You get into a great deal of, location specific, even language specific has to go into your content strategy. And in I’ve listened to a number of really amazing trans location and translation companies who you know a big differentiator for them is that they’re not just translating, they’re translating and making sure that they.

Yielding to bias. Have you encountered that with anything? Translation or location?

Ian Helms: Fun, fun facts At one of my majors in college was Spanish . I’m aware of how the different dialects vary. Relatively familiar, at least without actually like being a native, probably pretty good.

Yeah. But yeah, no, I, traveling around South America when I was a few years back, there’s, it’s not like this. As extreme of an example, but the word for strawberry varies on the northern part of South America versus the southern part of South America. And so if you use one word versus the other, there’s not always a guarantee that somebody’s gonna understand what you mean or that they’re gonna know what the nuance behind it necessarily is.

And the same goes for, Yeah. Other language and topics when you’re talking about. Certain words that you choose to use or not, whether or not they’re slang words that are acceptable or not. And it’s not always a one size fits all again, which is the difficult part. And that’s what scares a lot of people, I think, from translation services or expanding internationally because they’re like, Oh, is this perfect?

And again, like going back to one of our other topics of conversation earlier, It doesn’t always have to be perfect, but as long as you fix it or if you’re called out for it, that you acknowledge it and do something about it and then move on. That’s the, that’s what’s most important. So I think,

Jeff Coyle: You touched on this I think it was probably now 10, 15 minutes ago, about it potentially being impossible to do things for everyone all the time.

And how do you, The, maybe the desire to, do that. It’s a cuz aren’t, isn’t it a challenge to prioritize a group? Cause it isn’t that being throwing in the against the concept of inclusion. So I find that to be something that, I commonly think about it, it’s that am I how do I prioritize one group?

Yeah. And how do I address. .

Ian Helms: Yeah. I don’t think that there’s a a right answer at all. I think doing, again, something is better than doing nothing. And so whether you start with one group that’s more impactful to, or like more, not impactful, but more close to home, for you that’s one step in the right direction and then you can create that foundation and that process and get the wheels turning and then expand from there would be an opportunity. Again, if you’re a smaller business and you’re like, I don’t know where to start. Should we start with pride? Should we start with Black History Month? Do you have LGBTQ plus employees?

Would that be a great spot to start? Do you have black employees that might wanna be seen and represented throughout the year and be a part of the conversation? Starting with that and then, and. Yeah, naturally expanding as time and resources allow because then you’ll have that foundation.

You’ll hopefully, one year be able to cover one topic and then the next year be able to cover the next topic, which obviously isn’t ideal. And it’s could be seen as, excluding certain folks or other groups. But I think the fact that you’re doing something is proof that you.

Excluding folks, and could be argued that way as well. I, I don’t know if that like fully answers your question, but No, it does.

Jeff Coyle: I think it really does. It just shows that, anyone can get started on this. And I think that’s to the to the point and it’s to say, the, you’re taking steps in the right direction or at least the direction you think is right you’re not doing it in a way that’s inauthentic. And speaking about inauthentic or. Things that one might wanna watch out for or things not to drive the bus, not to be as your mission of this, how would you approach a team maybe that in the past has not, has maybe done something that was more of a one time initiative and it didn’t it didn’t go as well.

How would you go about saying what we meant to do it, but how do you get, how do you fix that? How do you get that into a.

better place

Ian Helms: Yeah, I think it starts with what your goal is for your campaign. Are you doing this simply to check a box? Are you doing this simply for some PR and notoriety and to have people be like, Wow, you’re so great because you celebrated this particular awareness month, and that’s awesome.

You’re probably not gonna get the reaction that you want. The same way that you would by taking those smaller steps that we’re even talking about and just including it as like a general. Guide for everything that you’re doing that’ll, that usually translates a little bit more successfully.

I think too ignoring communities altogether is an issue. If there was, it wasn’t any client of mine, thankfully. It was a brand that I was aware, made aware of on Twitter, but they were called out for example. of Not, they’re a beauty brand. So again, beauty brands are usually pretty great. But not every beauty brand is created equally, right?

They only, their whole Instagram feed, if you scroll down, was all white women, all white, cisgender women with long hair . So I was like, Okay, this is literally one depiction of what a woman looks like. This is one depiction of what your customer looks like. If then they got called out for it and then every one out of five posts, then they would maybe post a black woman.

But again they didn’t go any farther than that. They didn’t have any gender diversity. They didn’t have any like atypical, whatever their depiction of what a woman looked like in their imagery and ads. Really bad . You’re not, you’re ignoring people. You’re not acknowledging that there is diversity in the world, and that’s extremely inauthentic in that sense.

I think too, watering down messaging is an issue that a lot of people have. If you’re too scared of saying the right thing, you can sometimes then not say anything at all, or not say the right, right thing or avoid saying and that becomes a problem again because you’re not taking a stand.

And I think especially now that we’re talking about, we’re almost in 2023, like brand stands, especially even following the Black Lives Matter resurgence after the George Floyd incident. Like it’s proven that you essentially as a brand need to have a perspective. On issues and on things that impact your communities.

And if you don’t, it’s you’re, again, excluding people. And I’ve had former clients as well to do that, have not sent emails about pride campaigns, for example, to certain distribution lists in certain states because those states are typically anti LGBTQ plus. And that sent a message back to me that hey, this is not an authentic campaign if you’re not gonna.

You’re not gonna put, have this conversation with everybody because you wanna make somebody who is homophobic or racist or whatever else feel comfortable. That’s not you’re perpetuating the problem that we’re trying to solve here. And like cool that you went halfway in, but if you don’t go all the way that’s sending a bad message as well.

And then too, I. going toward, like only engaging the communities during awareness months. Is both good and bad obviously, because you’re only acknowledging them for the moment that they exist. There’s a really popular meme that comes up every pride month where June 1st companies are painting rainbow logos on everything and Ramifying all of their.

And then July 1st, everybody, it just gets whitewashed over. And it’s like they the campaign and the rainbows and the LGBTQ community and the importance of them never essentially existed because suddenly July 1st, it’s no longer relevant or important to, to acknowledge. And so it’s like a very it’s like a light switch that happens from June 30th.

Is that how many days are in June? To July 1st? Yes. It’s and we see that, like it’s very noticeable. And related to that, it’s capitalizing, like doing it to capitalize only if you’re not, if you’re having these campaigns just to make money off of these communities, that’s not authentic either.

Yes, we want to shop and we have lots of spending powers you mentioned earlier. But no, we don’t want to only be marketed to solely for the. , you getting your hand in our pockets. It’s about having a conversation, establishing that relationship. And I think that’s something that we haven’t really fully dug into, but goes into the year round piece.

If you establish a relationship or create a community around these communities or with these communities, that’s where the work is going. Long term and transcend just those awareness months and allow people to do some of the marketing for you through word of mouth by saying Wow, I really love this company because they are size inclusive, age inclusive, gender inclusive race inclusive, LGBTQ plus inclusive.

Like they’re a company, are a company that I am happy and proud to shop at. And I will sing it to the rooftops. And I do that with companies that I love and shop at. And, There’s something really powerful in that. And again, the people that don’t, I think you said it well, not everybody needs to notice it, but the people that matter, that the people that do notice are the ones that that it should matter for.

And we are smaller percents of your audience, of course, by nature, by the just demographic makeup of the world. But but again, the buying power alone speaks to like why it’s important to engage. And get that conversation and relationship started with us. And and yeah, I guess I’ll leave it at that

Jeff Coyle: No, that’s great. I think I, it really does bring up the fact that, the more you think about this, the more you notice it, the more you can put your own perspective on whether something’s authentic or not. And I think that’s a great place to, to pin that. The another thing that when it comes to content, and it comes to, 2022 you’re talking about, a lot of outputs of software, right?

You’re talking about different ways that software produces text, right? Whether it’s generation or whether it’s information retrieval driven. A website’s internal search or a web search engine. How have, how has your kind of perspective changed on that? And for me, one example here would be, if you’re using text that’s coming from an outsourcer that you’ve never worked with and you’re not checking it for these types of biases, it’s, similar to and generated content if you’re just publishing.

Certainly that’s a nightmare for me. I’m guessing a nightmare for you but what are the other ways that, not just, making sure you, you scan it to make sure that it’s not horrible, but what are the other things that you see in the market that have made you think it can’t just come out of a computer or an artificial intelligence thing, and then the manifest as being your brand message?

Ian Helms: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great question. I one example that comes to mind that also is part of this conversation is there’s a lot of bias inherently that go into technology and softwares based on the people who are creating them. And Google was called out recently for some of the algorithms that were favoring white people in the search results versus Bipoc communities as well.

The prominent example that comes to mind is when you searched professional hairstyles up until I think it was like a year or two ago, honestly, that they fixed it. Finally all of the professional quote unquote hairstyles were depicted on white, cisgender people. There was no there was no diversity in the hairstyles and it was all very much like the.

the same images, the same content that was being written about it, , and if you search unprofessional hairstyles, it was black hairstyles. It was hairstyles for people who were gender nonconforming that were showing up. And that’s obviously not what unprofessional hair is, but through the tools and through the perpetuation of what’s on this page, one of the search under results pages, how should we position.

Oh, it looks like everybody’s writing about these hairstyles as professional and these ones is unprofessional. And so then the people who write the content or the keyword research tools that you’re using to find them, or the outlines that you’re creating are gonna have those biases that came from the other biases that came from the biases of the tools.

And it creates this really negative snowball and gets you into position where you’re, again, perpetuating the issue instead of being a part of the solution. That’s where you need to sometimes balance whether or not it’s valuable or not for you to be a part of the conversation in the way that the tool like Google might want you to be a part of the conversation versus how you think or know the conversation should be.

And Google again has since fixed this. They got called out for it and fixed it and the results are much more diverse now. It’s still obviously some. Biases and things that happened because professional things very much did come from the straight, cis white male dominated world to begin with. And I think there’s a lot of unlearning and relearning that needs to happen in all sides there.

But even too, I think this goes to the tweet that I shared yesterday that we that we talked about. Keyword research tools don’t always get it right if you’re using I, the reference that I made was for some rush that I did a search for the keyword queer, and I was looking for some topics around that.

And it also included Queen and the results. That’s obviously not like a negative thing necessarily, but they’re two different topics. They’re two different terms. Semi related in some context, if you’re talking about drag queens or how people refer to themselves in the community, but certainly not Queen Elizabeth

Or certainly not Dairy Queen or things like that that were also turning up in the search results. And I’ve had to apply extra filters to find the things that I was looking for to narrow into those topics. And as great as the tools are at, presenting related topics or questions or keywords that you might wanna explore.

They’re not perfect either. And so again, it goes into being conscious of that and knowing to dive a little deeper. And if you don’t know that you wouldn’t know to or you might limit yourselves to the surface level piece and not make your content or. Campaigns as, as inclusive as possible as a result

Jeff Coyle: there’s some MarketMuse regulars probably listening to this webinar going, Oh, okay, now I know what Jeff, to ask that question.

Basically the perils of copying your competitors, right? Yes. The perils of copying your competitors is you might be copying their bias. And also, what is a synonym? What is a synonym is not always what is semantically. And that’s what you describe. It’s, you were almost like, they were almost including Queen in a re rewriting of your query.

Like saying it was somewhat a synonym when it really could be semantically related in one one particular meaning of the word.

Ian Helms: And that’s of that issue. Yeah. Yeah. And the other one was if you search t it doesn’t expand into lgbtq qt. To us, it. Go into the full gamut of the alphabet soup that makes up the LGBTQ umbrella.

And that, and there are actually, at least according to some Russia’s data, significant, like differences sometimes between somebody searching l t history month versus LGBTQ history month. And so knowing that and understanding like where those overlaps are. Can be helpful as well too, obviously in the way that you’re structuring your content or the keywords that you’re incorporating or even the rabbit holes that you go down in further research.

But based on what Google shows, cuz it’s not, again, always perfect. And there’s lots of examples of that, but not enough time to cover. Not enough time.

Jeff Coyle: Yeah. Let’s just say if you look at the words that are bolded, oftentimes you can see if your queries are being rewritten. Or if additional terms are being added.

So always be cognizant of that when you’re analyzing search results and, dragging it back to, content strategy and content marketing it. I think that’s very valuable advice is to make sure that if you are, just as you would make sure that intent is explicit and make sure you’re covering all.

Covering all possible target markets and covering all communities is as important to me to, to you and to take on these initiatives.

And how would you go about, Expanding on that. And then also, thinking about, gosh, the flip side is if you do identify something that isn’t, certainly you’re tweeting about it because it’s, your role and what you do, but, how do you get through that internally to say, Hey, this is not what we’re going to do.

This is against what we’re going

Ian Helms: to do. Yeah. Sharing it, having the conversation again, using Slack channels or email or whatever communication works best for you and your team to make. Be a part of the process, incorporating it into any training that you might have or any style guides for your writers, I think is also an important piece.

And something that you made me think of as well off of what you were saying is if you’re looking at the serrp and you’re trying to uncover what Google is looking for a particular topic or a type of content that you’re creating the rule is, potentially emulate that, but then do it better, expand upon it, do more.

And one of the ways that you can do better or do more is by thinking about it in an inclusive way and incorporating, imagery that’s better representative. If it’s a particular topic that lends itself to it, or language that’s more inclusive or copy that, that combats the bias that’s in the.

Post. And having that, if you’re outsourcing your content, especially too, when it, if it goes to somebody who’s not a native English speaker, like being explicit about that or on the editorial side, on the flip, like when it comes back knowing that and being cognizant of it when you’re scrubbing the content for accuracy and inclusivity and just making that, again, a part of your daily practice is ultimately, It’s gonna help you get there and avoid any of those issues.

Jeff Coyle: 57 minutes. That’s the mic drop moment. So we’re gonna spin into the offer. By the way, what I’m trying to say is if you wanna make things better, making him more inclusive and approachable from all communities is a way to do that. And guess what? It works. And if you wanna look at your content through the lens of any level of expertise check out a demo book demo on MarketMuse.

Ian can be found as he’s mentioned a number of times on Twitter at Ian Helms LinkedIn. He is again, the director of Growth Marketing for Q Digital. And I am Jeffrey underscore Coyle on Twitter. Jeff Coyle on LinkedIn and in tell us sign us off, give us your sage wisdom. What’s your takeaway?

And I’ll give you the last word, Josh.

Ian Helms: Yeah, if the only way that you can start to be as inclusive as possible is to start trying So if you have any questions or are looking for resources, definitely reach out to me or get in touch with hopefully the MarketMuse team and they can connect you with me as well too, if you want.

But yeah, you can’t make the world a better place if you don’t start to try to make the world a better place, right? You gotta create the world that you want to see, and the only way you can do that is. By taking the, sometimes uncomfortable for a step. But once you take that step, it gets easier and easier from there.

So yeah, I’ll leave it at that. Awesome. ,

Jeff Coyle: thank you so much and thanks everybody and we will see you next time the MarketMuse Content Strategy Webinar series. Thanks y’all. Thanks, Jeff. Bye. Yeah, bye.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.