Sunday, 27 August 2017

My Problem with the Blogging Industry | Diversity vs Big Brands


I've been putting off writing this post for a while, though it's something I have been thinking about for months. Now I'm ready to share my thoughts. 
One of the reasons was because I wanted to really nail the tone of the post. I do not want to come off bitter or misinformed. Secondly, it could be a highly controversial topic that sparks an important conversation, though, not controversial enough to stop me speaking up!


Within this post I will be referencing the term "BAME" which is a British abbreviation that stands for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (used to refer to members of non-white communities in the UK).


And while this post may be a little uncomfortable to read for some, I urge you to stick with me, in hopes that I may shed a little light on this darker area of the industry.


It all started with a tweet I put out on the 10th August:


I had been scrolling through Instagram, watching my favourite blogger's Insta-Stories, when I noticed quite a few of my favs had recently been invited to an overnight retreat with a huge hair brand. To my surprise (and not so surprise), all of the bloggers (that I saw) were Caucasian, and mostly blonde. 
As an actor, I have a more heightened sense of what I look like versus others because of castings etc. Whilst I see myself being represented a little, it's nowhere near enough. Diversity within the acting industry has been in the forefront of media recently and has started to affect the way I view my world. 

It was the overnight retreat with the big hair company that sparked my posting the tweet. However, it is honestly something I have noticed since I started blogging over a year ago. 
Of course, I don't expect these brands to be inviting lil old me to these events or to be the face of a major campaign, however, I do wish I saw more people like me on these big press trips, giving me hope for my own future as a blogger.


Diversity vs What Sells

What do brands get from this exclusion?
Or rather what do they lose? 

I understand that brands only want bloggers with a huge following, but if those "chosen ones" just all happen to be non-BAME, what does that say about the people who are reading blogs - that white bloggers are more popular? Or is it (more likely) that brands are just not tapping into the BAME blogger/influencer market? 

Why do brands choose to keep their pool of bloggers so niche? Could they not expand to a wider market? For example, choosing a blogger with a slightly lower following in favour of representing all their customers?
I'd also like to point out that these points could easily be related to LGBTQ+ bloggers, plus size bloggers, disabled bloggers, male bloggers - the list goes on!


The World Of PR

I can't tell you the amount of times I have been looking up a PR company online and been shocked at the misrepresentation within the "Team" page photos. Or I've been to an event where the entire brand-team are white and female. 

Perhaps the reason behind the lack of diversity within bloggers at the forefront of campaigns is the lack of diversity within the team behind those campaigns. 
According to the last PRCA census, which was published in spring 2016, 91 per cent of those surveyed identified as "white British" or "other white"... while only three per cent identified as "Asian" and two per cent as "black".

This article from 2013 states that the diversity within campaigns must represent the consumer in order to be affective:

In order to reach the consumer, those creating communications campaigns must accurately represent the consumer marketplace and be able to understand the cultural nuances within the target audience. 

Naomi Campbell recently took to social media to share an image of the Vogue magazine editorial staff photo:



Naomi's post demonstrates that a lack of diversity can be seen not only in fashion and beauty PR and marketing, but more specifically, within one of the most successful and influential fashion publications to have ever existed. 
Vogue provides fashion, beauty and lifestyle advise to hundreds of thousands of people every month. If it's team does not represent it's readers, how can it possibly relate to them?


Its N
ot All Doom and Gloom

While we seem to be a long way off a totally diverse representation of BAME bloggers and influencers, there are some positive steps being made in the industry towards the end goal. For example, the recent L'Oreal True Match foundation campaign featuring powerful male and female influencers of diverse skin tones. 
Stylist Magazine recently reached out to the afro-hair community with a questionnaire about their hair care. I was happy to answer all of the questions in a lot of detail, hoping to see a little spark of change within the beauty industry and how they target and work with us curly haired beauties!
Just last month, Absolut Vodka released a YouTube ad campaign #KissWithPride. It featured my great friend Cairo who is a male transgender blogger/YouTuber, alongside many other members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

These are just a few examples of positive steps to a better level of representation within the PR industry. 


If you have made it this far, thank you. Thank you for sticking with me as I try to elegantly face some not-so elegant topics. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. Whether you agree/disagree and if you feel as passionate about this as I do! 
Also, let me know what your favourite PR campaigns are featuring BAME Bloggers and Influencers!

Eb x


Location: Somerset House, London
DressEL MONÉT
Shoes: Primark
Bag: Matalan
Rose Gold Watch: Ebay 

All images by Osman Marfo-Gyasi