Monday, April 25, 2011

Fair Representation in A Scarce World

Vince Profeta

Over the past three years I have struggled to separate myself from those who are journalism/ photo journalism majors, as I am studying advertising with a dual in interactive multimedia within the Scripps College of Communication. Every class is the same, it focuses on journalists, and advertising and PR are thrown to the side. A common remark that I hear from every professor is “this applies to you PR and Advertising people as well.”

I wouldn’t say that this statement is wrong, as some things discussed in class could pertain to advertising, however, rarely, if ever, will I hear examples, stories, or personal experiences about advertising.

Oddly enough, these thoughts are ones that played over and over in my head as I read through Making the Business Case for Diversity to Broadcasters.As communities across the United States grow increasingly diverse, many people are concerned they aren’t seeing themselves, their lives, and their cultures represented properly.” This was the “eureka” moment where I saw the correlation between my sentiments and the articles’ content. At my core, I do not believe advertising majors get proper recognition at Ohio University. The articles detail ethnic minorities experiencing similar underrepresentation.

Smith’s article presents a number of ways for newsrooms to properly recognize different ethnic groups in the media. Included is “creating a climate of inclusion” in the workplace and expecting reporters to find diverse stories, but the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of resources and it is very difficult to please everyone. An increase of coverage in one spot is a decrease in coverage in another.

To make things a bit more relevant to the big picture…Making the Business Case for Diversity to Broadcasters references Brandweek (2005) who reported “that while ethnic groups are just under a fourth of the population, they represent 30-40% of the buying power, making advertising and media geared toward them a necessity.”

The insight provided by Brandweek proves the importance of cross-cultural studies. You have to understand your market in order for you to change people’s perception of a brand or product. College students entering any field of communication should stress the importance of understanding different ethnic groups and if not they will be sure to fail.

According to Making the Business Case for Diversity to Broadcasters, by “By 2050 the African-American population will nearly double, Asian-American and Hispanic populations will more than triple, and barely half (50.1%) of Americans will be non-Hispanic white (Winslow, 2005).

The fact that there is a limited amount of resources and an increasingly diverse society makes the future of advertising extremely interesting. The variables determining the content of what will be in advertising are endless. As an advertiser it is imperative to understand your target market. It is no longer going to be as simple as “white women with children under the age of 5” as a way to define your market. The rise in minority populations will make it very difficult to not only reach your market but to reach your market cheaply.

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