It’s June once again, Pride Month is going strong, and a lot of businesses are hopping on the train of showing support to the LGBTQ+ community—some with grace and authenticity, some rather more clumsily. But choosing your marketing strategy during Pride Month is actually not something you should rush into. If you do it wrong, it can backfire spectacularly and, what’s more important, you can end up hurting the community you were trying to support.
So how to approach a Pride Month marketing campaign? If you want to be an ally, but have reservations about coming across as shallow or insincere, read this short guide of dos and don’ts of Pride Month marketing we’ve made just for you.
1. Do your research, don’t go in blindly
First and foremost, educate yourself, especially if you are not a part of the LGBTQ+ community. And even if you are, you can still be ignorant about something, so don’t rely on your existing knowledge on the subject and do your research. Pride Month is more than just rainbows and parades, it has a history that you should take into account to avoid sounding tone-deaf or disrespectful. Stay away from stereotyping, too, since stereotypes about LGBTQ+ are rarely anything but prejudices and thus will only alienate people.
2. Stand your ground, don’t back down
Be ready that showing support to the LGBTQ+ community can attract all kinds of negative attention and backlash. It can come in different forms, from hateful comments on your social media to threats that people will stop using your products or services. Are you prepared to face this? If yes, then go ahead. If not, then it’s better to skip Pride Month altogether, because claiming to be an ally and then backing down at the first sign of trouble is one of the worst things you can do during Pride Month—a time when we celebrate bravery and resilience of the community against the very same bigotry and hate.
3. Support your LGBTQ+ employees, don’t just put up a front
Supporting Pride publicly is great but do your company’s values reflect the same intentions? For example, do you have clear D&I (diversity and inclusion) and anti-discrimination policies in place? Because if not, you’d better update your employee handbook before adding a rainbow icon on your social media accounts. Ask your LGBTQ+ employees what they think you should do to make your workplace more welcoming and inclusive. As a matter of fact, asking their opinion on your Pride Month marketing strategies wouldn’t hurt either—they may pick up on something that you’ve missed. You can go even further and use Pride Month to spotlight your LGBTQ+ employees, giving them space and opportunity to share their stories, as some companies do.
4. Donate your Pride merch profits, don’t do rainbow capitalism
We all live in a capitalist society, so no wonder lots and lots of businesses view the LGBTQ+ community solely as a market and Pride Month—as the time of year when you can get this market to lighten their wallets. The typical result of this harmful approach is when a company known for its problematic policies happily promotes its rainbow-colored merchandise, profiting off the community while still perpetuating its discrimination. Don’t do that. If you’re thinking of releasing a Pride-themed line of products or a rainbow-colored special edition of an already existing one, be clear that you’ll donate the profits you get from it to an LGBTQ+ charity. And then make that donation.
5. Support all year round, don’t stop at Pride Month
If you actually want to be an ally and not just perform as one, you should show your support to the LGBTQ+ community all year round, not just in June. It’s easier to do than you may think! We’ve already talked about updating your policies as well as listening to your LGBTQ+ employees more—that would be a good start. You can also collaborate with diverse creators, thus giving them a platform, participate in LGBTQ+ events, and donate regularly. If you use stock imagery or illustrations in your visual marketing (big chance you do!), choose more diverse ones. Be consistent in your support, and the experience will broaden the horizons both for you and your business.