With final exams in high gear and the world slowly getting back to normal, I can’t help but think of summer. I’ve never been much of a planner, but in order to successfully procrastinate the thousands of things I need to get done, I wrote out a list of goals and things I want to see and do this summer.

I’ve come to find that planning ahead of time is actually more fun and productive because you have something to look forward to, and you get to hold yourself accountable for actually accomplishing those things. So, I’m going to help you do the same. Here are three easy ways you can look and feel your best this summer.

1. Drink 64 ounces of water every day

Water is the most vital thing that every living being needs; so why is it so hard to drink it? It’s the one thing everyone knows they need to do, but proceed to not do it. What people don’t realize is that water has so many health benefits such as flushing waste from your body, regulating your body temperature, maximizing physical performance, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption, losing weight, boosting energy and mood, and so much more. I found my way to fitness and wellness Tik Tok, and the person in the video said that if you see someone who is well-rested and has glowing skin, you can bet they are drinking a gallon of water every day.

Now, before you say a gallon is a lot, the correct amount of water intake is subjective – it depends on your body weight and how much you exercise. Since I am not as active as I used to be, I am going to start off by drinking 64 ounces of water every day. One of the easiest ways to hold yourself accountable for this is to get a 64-ounce motivational water bottle. The bottle’s inspirational quotes start at 7 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. to ensure you drink the right amount of water every day. These water bottles are only $20 on Amazon, and the benefits most definitely outweigh the cost.

2. Walk more

Walking, in my opinion, is something we often take for granted. We can easily do it for exercise, as a nature fix, or for a socially distanced hangout with friends and family. Not to mention, a walk will make your dog happy, too. It’s one of the most underrated forms of exercise because it is low-impact, requires little to no equipment, can be done at any time of the day, and can be performed anywhere at your own pace. Walking increases heart and lung fitness, improves blood pressure and cholesterol, creates stronger bones and balance, increases muscle strength and endurance, and so much more.

Not convinced yet? Some easy ways you can incorporate walking into your daily routine is by taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, getting off public transportation one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, walking to local shops and stores instead of driving, or walking your (or a neighbor’s) dog. Now, get out there!

3. Try something new

Summer is the perfect time to switch up your routine and try something new. Think about it – almost your whole days and weeks are free of commitment, and you don’t have any assignments or obligations getting in the way. One thing I’ve been meaning to try is boxing, so I am going to sign up for classes three days a week. If I don’t like it, then I will try something else. If I’m not good at it, who cares! Our society needs to remove the stigma of doing something just because you’re good at it, anyway. Some other things you can try are yoga, cooking, reading, surfing, writing in a journal, skydiving, hiking, fishing, or really anything you think you’d enjoy. There are no limits to your potential, so you might as well do what makes you happy and feel whole.

Another thing you could do is go somewhere new. This may be a little hard considering we are still in a pandemic; however, you can easily go to a different beach than you normally would, go to a museum or immersive experience that you’ve never been to, road trip to a different city or state, or go to a park you’ve never been to. Finding ways to give yourself different experiences creates a life full of adventure.

There you have it – three easy ways you can look and feel your best this summer. If you’re like me, taking the summer months as time to grow and heal without too much outside stress makes me feel whole, and more than ready for the next academic year. Writing down these three things, plus anything else you’d like to accomplish this summer can help you look forward to what’s ahead, as well as keep your focus on being the best version of yourself.

This blog post was written by Olivia Mianulli, Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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As May comes around and LGBTQ+ celebrations begin soon, we should reflect on how important advocacy is during the month of June. However, the rise of social media and its presence in social movements has heightened the amount of performative activism that is disguised as advocacy. During Pride Month, companies and brands often take part in what is called ‘rainbow-washing’ by marketing themselves as LGBTQ+ allies while displaying little to no contribution to the cause. Though this blog will discuss rainbow-washing within brands, it can come from anyone using any type of media. From social media to marketing campaigns, rainbow-washing is a real communications problem.

First, let's cover Pride Month. Pride Month is celebrated in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969. The riots were started by Black drag queen Marsha P. Johnson as a response to constant police raidings and closings of gay hotspots in New York City. The Stonewall riots of 1969 are credited to be some of the most monumental moments of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Jumping back to modern-day Pride, the main attraction during the month is the pop culture attention that surrounds the global parades. Because Pride is now defined by the Pride parades, corporate America has begun to overshadow its history with performative activism for profit.

As I mentioned before, although rainbow-washing can include individuals’ performative social media posts, like the Instagram black square trend during the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, it usually refers to marketing campaigns. Basically, rainbow-washing is the practice of corporations latching on to LGBTQ+ branding during the month of June. Since marketing is communications, catchy social media content is vital to Pride Month marketing; which in turn fuels the element of performative activism because of varying platforms’ fake reality nature. With that being said, let's discuss how marketing campaigns around Pride Month are not inherently bad if done properly and truly advocate for LGBTQ+ equality.

The most obvious form of rainbow-washing, which is often met with social media controversy, is when companies release special edition products with rainbow designs, especially when the product is a differently designed version of the company’s usual product. This leaves the impression that brands are simply trying to stay relevant while doing the bare minimum with profit as the end goal.

Instead, brands may avoid seeming shallow by partnering with an organization that specializes in LGBTQ+ wellbeing. For example, the Trevor Project and GLAAD are two of the most well-known organizations that provide resources to countless LGBTQ+ communities. Then, an authentic partnership could guide traffic to an organization that is actually present in the year-round fight for rights, instead of limiting people that would want to do more to relying only on the product/company. Since social media is extremely influential on social change, brands may also show their authentic activism by sponsoring LGBTQ+ influencers whose audience is more directly affected by Pride. This way, the content being developed for a Pride campaign does not exclusively center and benefit a corporation that has no real ties to LGBTQ+ rights.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire’s recent Pride campaign is a great example of authentic brand activism during Pride Month. In June of 2020, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire released a short YouTube series titled ‘Drag Queen Mukbang’ in which four popular social media drag stars, Patrick Starrr, Gia Gunn, Eugene Lee Yang, and Laganja Estranja, jumped on a light-hearted trend to provide fun, yet informative, LGBTQ+ content. While the influencers that partnered with the Jack Daniel’s brand brought in views and sales, they also fulfilled the very important role of spreading awareness about how damaging COVID-19 has been to the LGBTQ+ community’s financial stability. On top of highlighting LGBTQ+ voices and providing detailed information, Jack Daniel’s also partnered with multiple non-profit organizations. This campaign raised the bar on how large corporations should promote their allyship while remaining conscious of what Pride Month truly stands for.

The key to Pride marketing is not companies stepping back completely, it’s stepping forward with resources and authenticity that doesn’t minimize a historic time for LGBTQ+ human rights. After all, the corporate world has the power to raise donations, give people a platform, and bring awareness to difficult conversations. If a brand is going to insert itself into a subject they do not regularly advocate for, they should not do it lightly.

This blog post was written by Hiromi Avila, Secretary.

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Over the past decade or so, multiple marketing studies have established that LGBTQ+ consumers are the ultimate, oft-untapped resource for building and maintaining brand loyalty. An inclusive marketing study conducted by the Female Quotient found that 71% of LGBTQ+ consumers are more willing to engage with communication efforts that authentically represent them and their sexual orientations/gender identities. One of the best practices for a brand targeting the LGBTQ+ community is allowing members of said community to have a say in the authenticity of a message. Without LGBTQ+ input, targeted messaging can come off as offensive or shallow pandering, potentially ruining a brand’s reputation within the community.

PRWeek asked LGBTQ+ practitioners back in 2019 about their perspective on PR’s progress on LGBTQ+ acceptance, and responses were… mixed. While the industry has been historically very friendly toward the LGBTQ+ community, many current and future practitioners (including myself) are observing where it can still be improved. Here are a few things the non-LGBTQ+ PR practitioner or firm can do to encourage inclusion, which can help cultivate success:

Normalize pronouns and gender-neutral greetings/phrases.

This is as simple as asking new co-workers about their pronouns instead of assuming or updating your email signature to include your own pronouns. Even if you are not gender-non-conforming, including pronouns in the conversation opens up LGBTQ+ practitioners to feel comfortable expressing their identity in the workplace. Gender-neutral vocabulary can take some work, since some gendered phrases are so deeply ingrained into our daily speech. (“Hey dude! or “Hello, ladies and gentlemen!” come to mind.) That’s okay - just practice and be actively aware of how your words can have an impact.

Research LGBTQ+ topics that you don’t understand.

If another practitioner aligns with an identity or mentions a topic you don’t understand, consider doing some private research before interrogating them with potentially personal questions. Plus, it’s generally good knowledge to have for the future, and you can help a co-worker feel respected by doing your homework.

Let LGBTQ+ co-workers speak their truth.

When working with any messaging that involves LGBTQ+ people, encourage LGBTQ+ co-workers to provide their input on the matter. Whether they have issues with the messaging or not, acknowledge their perspective and their knowledge on the matter as LGBTQ+ community members. Active listening is key here - be willing to process and put a different plan into motion if communication efforts are off the mark. It can only benefit you, your co-worker, and the organization as a whole in the end.

Our industry is making significant strides every day toward LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are always working to create open spaces that allow every practitioner to be their truest self and put that sincerity toward their work. As long as we put in the effort, the PR industry can continue to be a pioneer for LGBTQ+ greatness, and that energy will flow outward and make our relationships with the community that much stronger.

This blog post was written by Cayla Rex, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Member.

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