Public relations (PR) campaigns are the most successful when they reach your intended target audience effectively. This doesn’t mean that sending content to a large email list or broadcasting to a lot of social media followers means your messaging was impactful. You also need to ensure that once the information is received, audiences can meaningfully engage with it. This is why accessibility is a vital attribute of any PR campaign.
A significant portion of the population lives with physical and mental health challenges, which can affect how they interact with PR materials. Designing your content to be used by everyone who wants to serves your ethical duty to inclusivity and extends your potential engagement reach.
We will explore a few important considerations when incorporating accessibility into a PR campaign.
Awareness of the challenges
The first step in incorporating accessibility into a PR campaign is gaining awareness of the challenges your audience may face. It’s important not to assume hurdles, as unconscious biases can temper this approach, or you may simply overlook essential areas of focus. Instead, some solid research and discussion can ensure your campaigns are truly inclusive.
Take the time to train your PR team in accessibility issues. Bring in outside contractors and disability rights groups to educate your team on the breadth of hurdles some people live with and how this impacts their ability to use online materials. Ensure they understand how adaptive technology, such as screen readers and executive functioning adjustments, apply to PR content delivery.
It’s vital, too, for your PR team to be aware that mental health can impact how people interact with campaign materials. Normalizing discussions around mental health helps to reduce stigma and supports a practical understanding of the day-to-day challenges involved. Make it part of your regular practice to talk about conditions from a place of empathy and compassion. Team members should also be mindful of the language they use that might trigger symptoms or reinforce stereotypes. You’ll find that this feeds into campaign materials in ways that make them more positive and accessible for those living with mental health challenges.
Mindful content choices
Your content choices significantly affect how accessible your PR campaigns are. After all, these items tend to be the ways in which some of the most impactful messages and concepts are delivered to your target audience. It is, therefore, essential to be mindful of what materials provide opportunities for the greatest number of people to meaningfully engage with them.
Diversity of content can be a particularly effective route to take here. More creative content marketing methods help you reach a variety of audiences while also meeting the various accessibility needs of your demographics. For instance, long-form blogs may be accessible through screen readers. However, by also offering a podcast on the subject, those with vision challenges or learning difficulties can access a more meaningful experience.
It’s also important not to try and take shortcuts in this diverse content creation. It is respectful, ethical, and more effective to put effort and consideration into each of your content types.
Alongside the formats of materials used in your PR content strategy, it’s vital to take additional steps to ensure all those who want to interact with them can do so. This should include providing subtitles for video content and transcripts for podcasts. Avoid relying on automated tools for this, as errors are common. If your PR materials include images (or even memes), ensure alternative text (alt text) is embedded to supply explanations and descriptions for users with vision challenges.
Making your PR campaigns genuinely accessible isn’t just about using measures that enable those living with challenges to adapt their consumption methods. Rather, you’ll find you connect with them in a more meaningful way if you commit to inclusivity from the ground up. This undoubtedly benefits from planning for your content to be accessible during the design phase. However, you can bolster your efforts by embracing inclusive PR collaborations.
Where appropriate, work alongside influencers or content creators from diverse accessibility backgrounds. They can help you establish forms of material content and delivery that can most positively impact audiences with disabilities and other challenges. Not to mention that it’s a PR activity in itself to show you’re genuinely enthusiastic about investing in professionals that represent a range of communities.
Utilize consultants or creators who have experience in how to address potentially triggering language or concepts respectfully. They can not only guide you to offering the most accessible approach but also ensures that your handling of the topic positively impacts the public perception of your brand. This can be especially important when your PR activities are dealing with sensitive subjects.
Accessibility in your PR campaigns helps boost engagement and serves your ethical duty for inclusivity. It’s important to take the time to understand the range of accessibility challenges, so your team can effectively address these.
Using multiple creative content types helps to ensure more of your audience can meaningfully interact with your messaging. It’s also worth embracing inclusive collaborations to make your campaigns more holistically accessible. It takes some extra effort, consideration, and investment, but a commitment to accessibility should be a priority for all PR and communications teams.
Guest Contributor: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie.
To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
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