How you can be more inclusive in your storytelling

As a content creator, you might be instinctively inclined to produce content that sounds like you, looks like you and reflects your own personal identities. But the most effective storytelling is created through a spectrum of lenses, and broadening your point of view often begins with being aware of your bias. If you want to create content that resonates beyond audiences that look like you, take a step back to better discern the world around you – i.e. your audiences.

My wonderful colleague built a great guide for being more inclusive in your media relations practices. Now I’d like to contribute to the conversation with some tips and best practices that can help you be more inclusive in your social media and content marketing.

Ask interviewees how they’d like to be referenced

When you’re doing an interview, whether it’s written or on camera, confirm how the interviewee likes to be represented. In the same breath that you ask them how to spell their name, be sure to confirm which pronouns they use. If you’ve been given a contact to interview, simply confirm how a person wants to be referred to.  It acknowledges their identity and allows their voice to be heard even before they give you the first soundbite.

Use inclusive imagery (without the hurtful stereotypes)

Stock photo repositories typically package and promote banks of timely images, from Pride or Black History Month to your favorite holiday occasion. While they make it easy, we all have seen bad stock photos, enough to make you wince and wonder if you should go out and shoot your own If you need to resort to stock, make sure you’re being thoughtful about the images you’re using, and that they’re not dramatically performative or unintendedly representing a stereotype.

Think beyond the post, think about the collective

One of my social media editorial calendar traits is that they’re flexible, not set in stone. But that flexibility can sometimes throw off your balance and skew an equitable representation. Every now and then, look at your social and blog feeds. Do an audit of the faces, backgrounds and stories you’re telling. Ask yourself, “Who is missing from my audience? Who isn’t seeing themselves on our page?”

Don’t be lazy, go find stories

Landing stories and interviews that are representative and inclusive doesn’t just happen.  It takes intention, a plan and an ongoing sensitivity to being inclusive. There will be occasions when you will need to roll up your sleeves to recruit individuals and storylines that reflect your commitment. Most often, great stories don’t just fall into your lap. Tap your network and work to find those compelling stories. And once you get someone on the hook, thank them for their time and insights, and if you’re so inclined, even a gift card wouldn’t hurt.

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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