Ever feel like you’re walking on eggshells? When it comes to addressing sensitive topics such as gender inequality, racial violence, Islamophobia and mental health, it can be tricky to know how to begin and where to end.
But these relevant and important topics should be addressed, not avoided!
From racial violence to the impact that COVID-19 has had on mental health and reports of domestic abuse, a business as usual approach may make your organisation seem a little out of touch. Instead, you can choose to respond, raise awareness and raise your profile – after all, your audiences, staff and stakeholders will, in one way or another, be affected by these issues.
Apprehensive about using your platform to address sensitive topics? Take a look at our top tips…
Do your research
Ensure that you have the correct facts and figures to hand so that your blog, newsletter or social media post builds trust.
Whether you’re commenting on the gender pay gap or the representation of ethnic minority staff within your sector, it’s good to check that your content is founded upon reliable resources. It can be useful to include citations too!
Get the right balance
While it’s important to keep your brand personality consistent, you may need to shift your usual approach to ensure that you’re addressing the topic in a sensitive manner. Be strategical, mindful and appropriate.
Pass the mic
Harness the voices of people with lived experiences of the topic you’re addressing. Whether you’re writing about modern slavery, men’s mental health or being a carer during the pandemic, know when it’s time to share your platform with someone else.
Take an intersectional approach and empower others to speak up and share their stories.
Drop the mic
Keep your tone, topic and intended purpose in check. Sensitive topics don’t always have a clear answer, outcome or solution. So, whether you’re sharing an article, newsletter, or video in your communications, carefully consider when it’s time to stop, reflect and end your piece.
Approach a trusted colleague, friend, group or all-knowing expert and ask for their feedback. A second pair of eyes may be able to catch something that has the potential to be misconstrued or seen as insensitive.
You might also gain some valuable insight from their own experiences and facets of their identity such as their gender, religion, race or sexuality.
Create a safe space
Bringing sensitive topics to light can be powerful. People may use your platform to learn, reflect and connect with other people that are affected by what you’re addressing.
So, ensure that you’re creating a safe space for people to engage with your content by monitoring comments and responding to people’s questions.
Keep the conversation going
Sustain your audience’s engagement with the topic by pointing them in the direction of further resources, information and services. Work in partnership with other organisations and ask for their input and recommendations.
Depending on the topic you’re addressing, you could include a Black History Month reading list, podcast recommendations, or your top 10 LGBTQ+ movies.
Every day’s a school day
Hundreds of different issues, campaigns and causes are catching the media’s attention every day, so don’t feel like you need to tackle it all at once!
However, keeping yourself well-informed and ready to respond is really important. Take as many opportunities as you can to learn more, connect with people from different walks of life, and investigate and reflect different sides of the same story. Whether social issues have a regular spot in your comms plan or not, be bold, be brave and don’t shy away from sensitive topics.