In February, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Chair, Stephanie K. Reed kicked off the committee’s Instagram Live: Tuesday Talks series with Steve Jones, Founder & CEO, pocstock, to talk about “Why Inclusive Images Matter.” The discussion centered around the importance of shattering stereotypes and challenging societal narratives around the Black experience and Black culture.
Jones, a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last 20 years creating innovative technology solutions, co-founded pocstock in 2019 along with Tamara A. Fleming, chief content officer and DeSean Brown, chief relationship officer. pocstock, a Black-owned global stock media platform, is on a mission to change the way the world sees Black, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and differently-abled people of color through positive and authentic images and video.
Images have power. They tell stories without words, incite emotions, create connections, shape our beliefs, influence how we see ourselves and how we see other people – all interpreted through the biases of the viewer.
“There are stereotypes attached to us through reinforcement over decades of being constantly shown a certain way” says Jones. “We’re doing the work of showing the positive side of being Black”.
When there is a lack of conversation and understanding between racial groups, audiences use images from TV/film, media, and advertising to formulate views about themselves and those outside of their race and culture. This is why representation matters.
“We learn from what we see. All the stories being told about us help us understand who we are and help others see different dynamics about the Black community,” says Jones.
And right now, PR and marketing pros have an opportunity, actually a responsibility, to create stories and campaigns that amplify diverse voices and experiences of people of color that will help shift current societal narratives and normalize
Positive representation of underrepresented groups in images breaks down barriers, reduces bias, counters stereotypes, and deepens a brand’s connection with its audience by showing that they are seen, heard, and valued.
“We’re at a time whereas consumers of a brand feel more invested in the brand, feel more loyal to a brand when we see ourselves in the brand,” adds Jones.
A recent study showed that 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity in online ads. This means all audiences aren’t just asking to see underrepresented groups in content, they’re demanding it.
Diverse representation doesn’t benefit the consumer only. Studies show brands that value inclusive storytelling also build deeper connections with audiences, drive brand loyalty and trust, and revenue. Over the past few years, brands have made efforts to create diverse and inclusive content, yet there still is a need for improvement.
“There’s a lot of room to do work but the door is open in a way that it hasn’t been before.” says Jones. “Let’s make this into a moment where we really make generational change. There is an opportunity for us right now to do that and we can’t take it lightly, we really have to make some real change right now.”
And pocstock is committed to doing just that by partnering with brands to help create authentic content, and meaningful conversations that help employees feel seen, customers feel heard, and followers feel connected.
Include Us Campaign
In 2021, pocstock launched its Include US campaign that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion while creating meaningful conversations, collaboration, ideas, and resources that challenge society to be intentional about creating change.
Each month, on its social media platforms, pocstock highlights history makers who deserve recognition for their impactful work spearheading future generations. Audiences can participate in this action-orientated campaign by following along on social media, attending pocstock’s online events, and sharing their own stories that shift societal narratives.
“There is beauty in all people and now pocstock is here to show the beauty and people of color as well.” says Jones.
SPECIAL OFFER: pocstock and PRSA NJ have joined forces to create a special promotion just for its members. Start a new subscription and get three free images using promo code PRSANJ. Digital subscription plans begin as low at $30/month and grant access to an extensive library of 100,000 authentic stock photos, videos, and illustrations of people of color contributed by a global network of over 800 contributors in 60 countries and counting.
Missed the live event? Watch a replay of the Instagram Live: Tuesday Talks!
Be sure to follow and turn on notifications for the PRSA NJ Instagram!
Follow pocstock and their Include Us campaign on social media at Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Medium.