Supporting BLM - avoiding performative activism
On 25th May, 2020, another African American man lost his life to institutionalised racism at the hands of white police officers. Once again the veil of systemic racism has been lifted to reveal the everyday injustices for Black people across the world. This has forced the matter of racism into conversations and led to mass protests even with the risk to life presented by Covid-19.
Police brutality and white supremacy is tragically nothing new. However, the combination of this inhumane act happening in the 21st Century - with powerful mini-computers in our pockets - when many parts of the world are quarantined (spending, on average, 80% more time online) - was a recipe for fierce activism led by the masses.
Bloom is a B2B service provider, operating specifically in the field of branding and marketing for startups. But there are people who make up this company, as they do with any business. Therefore, this blog post has been written with the lens of our profession; looking at how this unignorable subject is being reflected in brand marketing strategies; some examples of great behaviour; and advice for what not to do - now or ever.
As compassionate human beings seeking to be a part of this positive change, we've decided to share some practical resources towards the end of this article, so read on:
As brands evaluate their response to this racial injustice, it is crucial to pause. The spectrum of how to react is broad, as is the likelihood of getting it wrong and doing more harm than good.
Speaking as a marketing agency, putting together the wrong content would usually entail a costly mistake. The issue here, however, isn't one of getting it wrong, having a financial impact, or even one related to damaging brand equity - it's an issue of righteousness. By acting incorrectly, a brand can inadvertently distract from this crucial movement that needs every morsel of our care and support.
Never has the term 'less is more' been of greater importance in marketing. As we are barraged with brands competing for a small window of attention, it's essential we realise that window rightfully belongs to the BLM movement.
There is a distinct difference between showing support and actually helping. It's clear that in this case, showing support isn't enough. If a company statement is one that simply highlights that what has happened is wrong, it is (to put it bluntly) stating the obvious. At the same time, saying nothing at all also can send the wrong message. More than ever, we are seeing that no position is in itself a position.
So with all that in mind, how can you address what is happening without falling into self-promotion? How can we really do something supportive, as opposed to performative activism?
Read on for our expert marketing advice when it comes to positive involvement in the BLM movement:
While George Floyd's death has produced exceptional waves, it is not a novel incident. With this in mind, understand that while the injustice you are highlighting may dominate this week's feed, it often consumes every corner of life for POC.
Say something < Do something
Actions not only speak louder than words, but also often remove the need for them. Whether it's donating to relevant causes or using your reach as a springboard for underrepresented voices, do something that helps. Here are some worthy causes:
Sign a petition:
Keep it short
As Sony put it when halting the reveal of their latest gaming device, "We want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard." While digital real estate may seem limitless, your content is occupying feeds. Acknowledge the distraction you may be contributing towards, and take a step back.
You do not need a history degree to acknowledge that racism is something deeply rooted in society. To look at the recent events and label them shocking will often (and rightly) lead to criticism as well as showing yourself up.
While it may seem like a difficult topic to tackle, it's important that it is at the very least, acknowledged.
How Bloom is practising what we’re preaching:
Our founder & director, Stephanie Melodia, has been hosting daily live interviews on Instagram at 12pm BST since lockdown in the UK. This series, the #LockdownDiaries, has now been used as a way to hand over the mic to POC, and amplify their voices. Guests so far have included Laura Bartlett, Founder & CEO of House of Coco Magazine; Mandy Nyarko, of Exeter Velocities; Nancy Evbuomwan, Business Strategist, and; Jaz Broughton, Just Jaz Life Coach.
There is enough information readily available to us (be it on the internet, in a book, on a podcast...) for us and we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on the pain, struggle, and injustice black people have faced. Please see below for some recommendations we are adding to our lists:
We have signed the petitions to charge the Minneapolis police officers in question with murder, as well as a petition to Introduce Mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting in the UK.
As scout to Ada Ventures, this is one partnership opening our doors to supporting minority founders, and we are actively exploring other strategic collaborations to increase the D&I of both our client base as well as our team members.
Black Lives Matter.