Case study: communicating with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic business leaders

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

As part of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic BEIS is responsible for raising awareness of business support schemes on offer such as grants and loans.

In March, polling from YouGov showed that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic business owners were significantly less likely (53% versus 79% average) to be aware of government-backed business support schemes than their white counterparts.

To increase awareness levels among the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community and drive businesses to the Business Support Finder tool, BEIS created a multi-channel low-cost communications plan to run in parallel with the business support campaign.

As there is great diversity within the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community, we tailored media activity to different ethnic groups. For example, British Pakistani business owners were significantly less aware of business grants available to them, so the team arranged interviews with BBC Asian Network and Curry Life Magazine, an Asian trade publication. 

We knew that our audiences were consuming significantly more national and regional TV due to lockdown, so we worked with Government Communication Service (GCS) Local to target local radio stations and set up ministerial interviews with local BBC TV stations. Case studies of business leaders taking up government support were also pitched to podcasts such as The Guardian and The Economist.

Recognising the importance of direct engagement with business owners, BEIS partnered with leading black newspaper The Voice and influencer Yvonne Thompson to organise a webinar between the Business Minister and over 400 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic business leaders. We also tried using creative new social media platforms to promote business support measures, including Nextdoor, a local community engagement app, reaching over 3.5 million households.

This communications activity resulted in over 100 pieces of targeted media coverage, and tracked links showed that users arriving at the Business Support Finder tool were highly engaged with content, with data showing a low bounce rate (averaging 17% compared to 30% for general audience) and a high number of pages per session, suggesting the channels used were targeting the correct people.

There is still work to be done to increase the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community’s understanding of business support measures, and BEIS continues to champion communications plans that are representative of the entire UK population.

Nicola Cutting, BEIS