Watched Best Practices for Applying DEI Principles to Marketing Communications and Engagement

Watched Best Practices for Applying DEI Principles to Marketing Communications and Engagement from

Multicultural marketing and community engagement are evolving. Today’s most successful multicultural outreach strategies are increasingly those that apply core diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values to reach diverse audiences effectively, respectfully, and meaningfully. In this session, we will explore how DEI and multicultural marketing and community engagement can work together to create more equitable campaigns and programs and share proven best practices for applying DEI principles within the context of marketing communications and engagement.


  • Jennifer González (Senior Vice President of Multicultural Communications, C+C)
  • Alejandro Paredes (Co-Director of Communications and Engagement Services, Cascadia Consulting Group)

Turning DEI into Action: A Simple Framework

presented by Jennifer González

Organizational DEI = internal

Multicultural marketing = external — “sells products or services to audiences of multiple ethnicities or cultural backgrounds in authentic ways that honor cultural differences”

How does DEI fit into multicultural marketing?

DEI in multicultural marketing: “applying core DEI principles to marketing & outreach strategies to ensure we reach diverse audiences effectively and respectfully”

  • diversityunbiased representation of diverse community members
  • equity = fair access — investing in resources that ensure fair access to people who need more support than others
  • inclusion = belonging — voices and desires of all community members are heard, valued, and acted on

Questions to ask

Diversity questions

  • who in the community may not feel represented?
  • what are we doing to ensure outreach efforts are representative of the communities we want to serve?
  • are we avoiding stereotypes and considering the nuances and complexities of our desired audiences?

Equity questions

  • are we investing equitably?
  • do our tactics and channels align with desired audience?
  • how can we make space for community members to guide decision making?

Inclusion questions

  • does our campaign invite our audience to feel seen and understood?
  • are we including all forms of diversity?
  • are we looking beyond basic demographics to understand audiences’ needs?


  • avoid assumptions
  • remember communities are always changing
  • know your audience beyond demographics
  • invest equitably
  • work with authentic community voices as advisors, talent and creatives
  • set specific goals and metrics that reflect your campaign

Equitable research

  • allocate funds for research before starting work
  • talk with community members
  • no community or culture is a monolith
  • avoid stereotypes from simplifying a community

How to use research in representation

  • who to represent in campaign’s images or videos (e.g. have a doctor deliver the message versus a government official)
  • which languages to use
  • where to place ads
  • who’s a trusted messenger
  • what tone will resonate best

Best practices


  • budget for research
  • narrow the audience as much as possible
  • go beyond demographics
  • get a diverse sample
  • prepare an inclusive discussion guide — involve someone from the community
  • compensate community members
  • create a safe space for candid opinions — a facilitator from the culture
  • test creative concepts
  • build community relationships — see if you can find community partners who have research on your audience
  • let them evaluate the process
  • think beyond today


  • be specific on who you want to reach and why
  • involve a diverse team in the early planning and strategy sessions
  • build the right team — external subject matter experts, partner with Community Based Organizations, micro-influencers

Creative campaigns

  • establish clear brand guidelines for inclusion of diversity — share with all team members
  • document inclusive intent in the creative brief (e.g. diverse talent casting, narratives)
  • use images of what diverse people really look like, avoiding stereotypes
  • source video and images from multicultural creators / agencies


  • provide templated content so it’s very easy to share
  • be flexible on timeline — recognize that community-based orgs are understaffed and overworked
  • provide templates for reporting too
  • look for partner orgs that also benefit from your campaign

Choosing the right channels

  • integrated approach: community / grassroots engagement combined with media campaign
  • involve community orgs
  • consider community-specific challenges (e.g. literacy, reliable internet access)

Narratives that reflect diversity

  • recruit diverse voices to create content
  • can’t generalize
  • include cultural cues that reflect a community’s diversity
  • enable communities to tell their own stories — identify their narrative instead of imposing your own

Language considerations

  • consider the medium
  • be intentional with language (don’t use alienating language)
  • use relatable language (write for the lowest grade level of your desired audience)

Inclusive Engagement: A Deeper Dive

Presented by Alejandro Paredes

Lessons learned

  • doing something is better than nothing
  • be transparent and clear on available resources from the start — set community member expectations
  • don’t overpromise individuals
  • consider the community’s needs and concerns — look for synergies, pay attention to when they’re really not interested in your topic right now
  • be open to learning and failing
  • use “feedback loops” in your processes — avoid an “extractive process” with community-based orgs where they feel used without getting the benefits or learning from the campaign / program
  • leave space for flexibility
  • don’t treat projects like isolated initiatives — remember the context for communities, recognize that all the info they’re getting combines
  • get buy-in upstream internally
  • allow time for community members to disseminate info and community to act on it

Theories of engagement

Build strong relationships & trust with community

  • learning from community before implementing engagement strategies
  • collect ideas emerging from the community
  • meaningful engagement

Understand impacts

  • look beyond quantitative data
  • pay attention to impacts and stories

Active learning

  • enable community-driven solutions
  • let community lead transformation and equity
  • expose the root causes of inequity

Capacity building

  • invest in individuals, orgs and partnerships
  • pay attention to others’ needs

Participatory design /research

  • pay community members

Equity innovations

  • build new tools, models, and infrastructure to actualize the community we envision

Critical connections

  • work across sectors, geographies, and silos
  • build a collective vision and gain momentum

Case study: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency strategic plan update

  • area covers 4 counties
  • approach to community engagement:
    • 3 phases– listening sessions to develop engagement plan, community review and input x2
    • have a community debrief at end of each phase, conclude with a community engagement report and online open house
  • 6 languages, live interpretation, in-language facilitators, reverse translation of community feedback
  • targeted promotion through community-based orgs, prioritizing Black and Native-led
  • $50 stipend for workshop participants, $100 for listening session community based orgs, raffled six $50 gift cards for online open house
  • hired a project partner (Latino Educational Training Institute), used consulting partners (Culture Shift Consulting, Bridge Latino – Tere Carral, Eco Infinity Nation – Ali Lee)
  • 200+ workshop participants, 100+ community and agency partners engaged, 15 community-based orgs participated in a listening session, 150+ comments on draft plan

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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