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2 Jun 2020

Arvind Hickman, PR Week

Corporate voices publishing statements on racism criticised over hypocrisy and lack of meaningful action on equality in their businesses

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“‘Generic statements are a distraction’ and ‘talk is cheap’ – PR leaders on brands supporting Black protestors”, 01 June 2020

Major brands, including Nike, Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Amazon, Spotify, Microsoft and Instagram have posted in solidarity with the Black community.

Some brands have been criticised for a perceived hypocrisy… L'Oreal … drew criticism from British model and activist Munroe Bergdorf … [having] … dropped her from a campaign for speaking out on racism.

… PR leaders from BAME backgrounds … said that brands should avoid generic … statements, particularly if their own businesses … [lack] moral leadership on equality and meaningful support to causes…

Ronke Lawal, founder Ariatu PR Support which includes tangible steps to actions including donations and the amplification of links and resources are welcome. Generic statements … become a distraction and are not needed… [T]hey must prove to us that they mean what they say in all areas as it pertains to Black people, and that includes the people they serve and the people who work for them.

Kristian Hoareau Foged, independent insights analyst and strategic communications consultant ...[I]f you're going to say something, make sure you're authentic by backing it up with consistency and real action. The PrettyLittleThing tweet was clearly an ill-thought-out, hastily put together response for a situation they didn't have the … values to know how to handle... [W]hat's needed … [is] support in lobbying and campaigning … to change structures, which many of the organisations being donated to try to do with very few means. Social media have a unique place … If you're part of the engine fuelling division and hate… you need to stop being part of the harm.

Elizabeth Bananuka, founder, BME PR Pros Brands that … are happy to take money from Black consumers and happy to use Black talent … should speak out against the racial inequalities, injustices and violence…

Bemi Idowu, PR account director, Wimbart… When the dust settles and the issues are no longer front-page news, brands must ensure that they are doing everything they can to challenge and dismantle the pillars of structural racism wherever they come across it. Not just post and look away.