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A Conversation Worth Having: Diversity in Stock Media

The Marketing Industry & Representation in Stock Resources

In today’s changing world, the marketing industry finds itself at a crossroads. With outdated social norms giving way to values of inclusion and understanding, brands, agencies, and content creators alike face the challenge of adapting to a new era – and the opportunity to address complex topics of conversation long neglected.

One issue that has been the focus of much industry chatter in recent years is the troubling lack of progress when it comes to diversity and representation in stock media. It’s an issue we at Rosie’s Creative dealt with first-hand during a recent project. Tasked with building a new website for the Pro Bono Counseling Project, a local nonprofit focused on mental health care, we were frustrated by a lack of diversity in stock content that left us with a poor selection of high-impact visual media tailored to our client’s broad, multicultural audience.

With this experience fresh in our memory, we thought it appropriate to offer a few thoughts on this issue.

To put it bluntly, yes, stock media providers have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to diversity and representation – and it’s content creators themselves who will have to do much of the heavy lifting. But with smart, strategic purchasing decisions, brands can play a role in pushing the industry towards more credible representation, while also giving their own marketing efforts a boost.

So, if you’re in the market for stock content and need help navigating this issue, here are a few basic points to consider…

First and foremost, remember that the goal of marketing is to communicate – and authenticity matters.
When picking stock images or video, go beyond aesthetics, and consider how the content in question communicates your brand story to your target audience. When people see themselves reflected in your marketing, they feel a more authentic connection, which can boost your marketing efforts in a big way.

Realize that there’s more to diversity than religion, race, or gender.
The Harvard Business Review identifies three major types of diversity. Alongside demographic diversity, there’s also experiential diversity which describes differences in interests and skills, and cognitive diversity which describes differences in thinking and problem solving. For more realistic depictions of people and situations, be mindful of all three types.

When selecting content, be aware of the larger context.
Look out for possible negative connotations in your choice of media – and take care not to reinforce stereotypes or exclusionary narratives. This is where working with a marketing agency can be helpful. By bringing a fresh perspective to the process, a marketing pro can help to flag potential issues you might not catch otherwise.

Finally, if you’ve exhausted all options and still can’t find appropriate content on stock websites…
It may be necessary to hire a professional photographer or videographer to help you craft a more inclusive message. Yes, this may require you to reevaluate your budget, but it will provide the best opportunity to communicate your brand story with visual media that’s diverse, honest, and true-to-life.

The bottom line is, it’s important for people to see themselves reflected in media, and that includes marketing. So, for businesses and nonprofits today, incorporating greater diversity and more honest representation in marketing efforts is a must. Building a better future isn’t easy, and there’s always more work to be done. When brands and marketers come together to have conversations like this one, we can all do our part to get that work started.

Could your brand use some help? Contact us today – and remember, with us, your first consultation is always free.

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