The Business How-To Guide to Black History Month


It’s October, which for us in the UK means Black History Month has arrived. This year with some added significance, as the spectre of race continues to loom large over society.

And yet, what started off as an event to acknowledge the contributions of Africa and Africans in global civilisation, has become of all things – a marketing holiday.

While there is much contention regarding the viability of celebrating Black culture in this way, what is clear is that in it’s current format, Black History Month represents an opportunity for brands and businesses to connect and collaborate with the Black community.

So why do so many organisations get it so wrong? From Barnes and Noble’s literally literary blackface campaign, to Royal Mail’s strangely tokenistic black letter boxes – the cultural landscape around how we engage with Black history, is rife with missteps.

There are some obvious answers as to why this might be. Answers informed by a structural lack of representation and inclusion.

However, a deeper and more profound answer might point to a fundamental lack of empathy and understanding.

Marketing in it’s highest ideal, is not about selling – it’s about connecting. It’s truly about being of service, and being prepared to do the work in order to fulfil this potential.

It represents not only the values within our organisations, but a vision of the world as we desire it to be.

Make No Mistake

Such ideals are echoed in the work of The Unmistakeables, an award-winning culture and communications consultancy, I’ve been fortunate to work for.

The team are dedicated to helping organisations become more representative of society from the inside out.

This is achieved through consultancy work, strategy sessions and virtual workshops.

I’ve participated in several of their virtual Cultural Conferences, helping brands and businesses develop culturally authentic and considered campaigns.

So I’m thrilled to share their Business How-To Guide to Black History Month, of which I had the pleasure to contribute to.

It features invaluable insights and 8 key learnings, via a raft of Black British talent.

Tackling everything from inclusivity to activation, the guide serves as a vital resource. Not just for Black History Month, but for every month. It is a bible for ethically engaging with Black consumers and audiences.

I’ve linked to the lessons in order below. But perhaps the most important insight to consider beforehand, is that Black British history is British history.

And that’s not a bad place to start.

– GB

Lesson One – Plan ahead with your Black History Month campaign

Lesson Two – Brands and businesses must approach Black History Month with purpose

Lesson Three – Prioritise positive internal change for Black employees over external comms

Lesson Four – Use your strengths to add value to Black History Month

Lesson Five – Respect Black peoples’ value when planning Black History Month projects

Lesson Six – Change the record during Black History Month

Lesson Seven – Be open to being challenged and held accountable during Black History Month

Lesson Eight – Think about Black people beyond October

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