The Best Webinars on Social Justice & Equality (and Where to Hear Their Recordings)

In June, we saw Black Lives Matter erupt in protests even as the world was recovering from a global pandemic. But after Glassdoor had just reported that 42% of U.S. employees have experienced or seen racism in the workplace last year, was it really such a surprise that the human rights movement started in 2016 was still alive?

Now in July, dozens of helpful resources have similarly sprung up in the interest of social justice and equality. As the public relations professional in your workplace, it may be up to you to begin these conversations.

Below are some of the most authentic and insightful webinars we have found around Black Lives Matter. Watch them, learn from them, and — most importantly — share them.

Brands Taking A Stand Against Social Injustices – When Staying Silent Is No Longer An Option

This PRSA webinar is free with your PRSA membership and digs into how different brands can genuinely address social issues in line with their own company values. Specific topics include:

  • Evaluation Before Engagement (tactics & possible outcomes)
  • Value-Based Action (genuine reactions and leadership)
  • Identify Decision-Making Moments (when to take a stand as a brand)

Watch the recording as a PRSA member for free here: PRSA – Brands Taking a Stand

Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on African Americans and Communities of Color

This free webinar was coordinated by the American Bar Association and is part of their COVID-19 Webinar Series. This particular webinar concerns the “current and foreseeable implications of the COVID-19 pandemic has on the African American Community.” Specific topics include:

  • Healthcare (testing site availability, health insurance assistance, health disparities)
  • Economic Security (minority small business relief)
  • Voting (voter turnout, accessibility)

Watch the free recording here: American Bar Association – Implications of COVID-19

Solidarity Convos: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Black Lives

This free webinar is just one of Act to Change’s many panel videos that cover hard topics that must be discussed to move forward in a modern and safe society. It’s also worth noting that actively encourage live participation in their recordings. Specific topics include:

  • Solidarity (especially the need for it between communities of color)
  • Accessible People of Color (privilege and perspective)
  • Change (what can be done for the next generation, now)
  • Inclusion (in this moment & going forward)

Watch the free recording here: Act to Change – Solidarity Convos

The Black Lives Matter Movement and Your Organization

This free webinar by Paylocity covers Black Lives Matter in the workplace using real examples of what employees (and consumers) expect from businesses. Specific topics include:

  • Employee Expectations (common questions & best responses)
  • Support in the Workplace (how to encourage employees)
  • How Businesses Can Lead (and why you should)
  • The Danger of Silence (how it can translate to acceptance)
  • Inherent Bias (the hiring process, inclusion & diversity)

Watch the free recording here: Paylocity – The Movement and Your Organization

“Do Black Lives Matter in Europe?”

This free webinar is presented by the Council for European Studies to discuss the protests and reactions to Black Lives Matter happening beyond North America. Specific topics include:

  • Racism & Anti-Racist Struggles in Europe (especially amid present dynamics)
  • Global Connections to Black Lives Matter (why it transcends the U.S.)
  • Protests Amid the Pandemic (how we make sense of it)

Watch the free recording here: Council for European Studies – Black Lives Matter

Have a valuable webinar of your own to share? Link it in the comments below!

Careers in a Post-Pandemic World: Should You Seek Essential Jobs?

Summer is here, and so is COVID-19 (still). In a month where we’d normally be distracted by fireworks and cookouts, it suddenly isn’t uncommon to read about massive layoffs, learn that another colleague has just been let go, or even receive a flyer that a favorite local business has permanently closed its doors.

The only thing that seems reliable these days are essential jobs — but what is “essential,” anyway?

ES·SEN·TIAL, first used as a noun in the 15th century, is described by Merriam-Webster as being both “basic” and “necessary.” In February, it might’ve been described as a skilled job that required education or experience to fill. Today, it very clearly means a role that keeps society running (i.e., healthcare workers, grocers, delivery drivers, cashiers, food servers, etc.).

For public relations professionals, that means finding a business or personality to represent that is considered essential (as known by the latter description). And while influencers and celebrities alike are sticking to safety guidelines and quarantining themselves away, that leaves essential businesses as your next bet at a job opportunity.

Anywhere that essential workers are operating generally falls under that essential business umbrella: restaurant chains with delivery or drive-thrus; supermarkets deemed too important to close; retailers with essential goods we couldn’t safely (or humanely) get by without.

Got a few brands in mind? Not so fast — “essential,” after all, doesn’t mean “safe.”

The Advantages

Maybe the essential employers thriving during the pandemic are businesses you’ve never considered before. But don’t dismiss them just because they’ll cause confusion on your resume — future employers will understand why you represented a grocery store during a pandemic. Plus, there’ll be some skills you can learn or grow that’ll move with you when the chance arises to get back into your preferred industry.

Here are a few easy reasons to look up an essential business’ career website:

  • Essential businesses are likely hiring, or at least one of the many not drastically downsizing.
  • An essential business is one of the few locations (both legally and naturally) that consumers are very carefully spending their cash right now.
  • PR jobs could especially be in demand, especially as COVID-19 continues to fall under the high-paced “crisis communications” category.

The Disadvantages

Especially if you’re new to the job market or just had a long-term role eliminated from underneath you, essential businesses may look like a safe harbor in the storm. But before you hop aboard, consider the bigger picture.

Here are a couple of cons to essential jobs that could cause a wrinkle in your plans:

  • Because they’re getting extra business, an essential employer may only be hiring for temporary or freelance roles that could be cancelled at a moment’s notice.
  • Since they’re one of the few hiring and the job market has turned on its head in favor of the employer, they may low-ball you on pay.
  • If they’re essential, they may have special permissions to work around specific safety measures — and possibly put you at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Check out the business’ corporate website (which is where you, as a PR pro, will probably be working) and identify their values. Do they align with yours? Could you see yourself working for them long after the pandemic, or will you trade job satisfaction for job security?

Don’t put yourself in a bad situation out of fear, or pride.

Have something to share about essential employment? Put your thoughts in the comments below!

We’re Over the Rainbow (Logo): 3 Other Things Your Company Should Do to Show Their Pride

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is an American right in 2015, rainbows and ally badges have been steadily making their way into the corporate landscape. Today, it’s not uncommon to see a LinkedIn feed full of colorful company logos that marketing teams schedule to hit on June 1, the start of Pride Month.

Although representation remains incredibly important in such public spaces, there is something a little shallow about dozens of companies who may not otherwise advocate for the LGBTQ+ beyond the rainbow logo. In fact, some have even taken to calling it “rainbow-washing,” which Wired’s Justice Namaste defined in a 2018 interview:

“Rainbow-washing allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship.”

As the PR professional representing those relations with the public, we’ve compiled a simple list of things you can do to help your company more genuinely follow-through on their promise to the community when they incorporate rainbows this month.

1. Create an Internal Pride Committee

If your company really doesn’t know where to start, remove the pressure and start by looking to your staff. Do you have LGBTQ+ folks working at your organization who feel comfortable sharing ideas to make the workplace more inclusive? Or worse, have they already submitted some ideas, but were left unheard?

This is your chance to create a real space for pride within your company all year long, not just during June.

2. Show Up at Your Community’s Pride Celebrations

While the fight to keep LGBTQ+ rights is still very real, plenty of Pride events take place all over the U.S. in celebration of how far acceptance has come. Even if your company is not based in a large city, your community probably has some sort of non-profit organization or city committee that hosts a parade each year. Consider pitching participation to your employer and inviting employees out to enjoy the event under the company’s registration.

If you don’t have the large staff or budget to attend community events, consider offering a discount for those organizations that arrange them. It is Pride Month, after all.

3. Share the Importance of Pride with Staff

Maybe your company is so unsure of where they fit into Pride that they don’t even do the rainbow logo during June. As the PR pro, it’s up to you to start those conversations, and there’s nothing wrong with simply starting with your staff.

Consider creating a Pride newsletter full of historical facts that you can share, or working with your graphics team to publish a temporary internal webpage on a staff-exclusive communications site. This can help your business be more inclusive for their people, and possibly for the community as an ally in the future.

Has your company gone above and beyond in support of Pride? Share in the comments below!

So Your Internship was Canceled: 5 Steps to Still Make Your Summer a Success

Though summer is usually a time of smiles and sunshine, this year it marks a bittersweet start to a long and empty season for many students.

As of May, Glassdoor reported a 52 percent drop in internships after the coronavirus caused citizens to stay home and non-essential businesses to close up shop. And while the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 29 percent of internships did manage to move online, the rest have either been postponed or dissolved.

If you’re facing the latter, don’t despair. There are plenty of actionable steps you can still take to advance your career this summer. In fact, we’ve outlined five below that you can start today.

1. Go Remote

Virtual internships have been around since webcams started appearing in laptops, and they’ve only grown in popularity as 4K smartphone cameras emerged with free video-sharing apps. To find one yourself, try searching for “virtual internship” (or “remote internship”) on popular job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn.

Of course, there are also internship websites that only post remote opportunities such as Virtual Internships, or more general internship listing sites that have a remote section like Internships.com.

2. Volunteer

So maybe you couldn’t score a remote internship, or simply know from your own experience with online classes that a virtual setting is just something you do not want to sign up for. If you’re committed to an in-person experience, we have some good news. Most states are beginning to reopen, and while some vital COVID-19 safety measures are still in effect (cloth masks, six feet social distancing), this could be your chance to volunteer on-site for the summer.

Volunteer recruiting websites like Just Serve and Volunteer Match have a number of opportunities that ask for help with everything from office tasks to gardening needs. This could be your chance to not only get some hands-on experience that aligns with your major, but also meet some community contacts who’d be happy to write a strong reference letter for you next year.

3. Start a New Project

If a remote internship or volunteer match doesn’t sound ideal, why not get started on a new project for your portfolio? A completed project would make a good conversation piece for a future internship (and job) interview, especially as coronavirus-related questions are expected to pop up for the foreseeable future. What could be better for sharing your initiative than a creative summer project you researched, crafted and published from start to finish during the pandemic?

If a project makes sense for you, start by identifying what would benefit you most if added to the old portfolio. Are you missing a particular skill set that a project could help you work on and show off? Is there a class you just finished that had an assignment you’d like to build out more? Whatever you create, make sure you put the finished project in your portfolio so future employers can find it easily.

4. Update Your Resume

Depending on when you last interviewed, your once-polished resume may be a few months out of date. Take another look and consider adding any new skills or experience you’ve gained since. Courses you may have recently completed in your last semester could also be worth mentioning, especially if you can tack a project onto it (that should link to your portfolio, too).

As you update your resume, it may be worth reviewing some basic formatting tips. Indeed has some great tips and examples for college resumes, and Resume Coach even has a free Resume Template.

5. Join a Membership Organization

Lastly, if you do nothing else this summer, join an organization related to your major. We specify membership organizations because they typically offer major resources exclusive to members. Typical memberships come with access to job boards, newsletters with industry news, structured online learning and a membership directory. For students, it’s the ultimate motherload of industry know-how and contact information for networking.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re a PR/Comms major, and we can’t recommend the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) enough. It has more than 300 chapters throughout the U.S., so it’s likely there’s a local chapter for you to join and rub elbows with the industry leaders in your community. Plus, you’ll get access to the PRSSA Internship Center and the PRSA Job Center.

And there you have it, five things you can do to still make your summer a success.

Found something even better? Share in the comments below!

3 Ways Destination-Based Businesses Stay Relevant During the Quarantine

While neighbors and state officials alike ask citizens to “stay home,” destination-based businesses have had no other option than to close their doors. From theme parks to museums, it’s clear the tourism and hospitality industry is taking a hit amid country-wide quarantine closures.

If you happen to work for one, there’s no doubt you and your team have had to get a little creative to remain in the public eye. Here are three of the best things we’ve seen destination-based businesses do to stay relevant.

1. Rouse Your Crowd with Remote Offerings

Just because your doors (or gates, or nature trails) are closed doesn’t mean you can’t reward your fans for being fans. However, the physical items you may be used to handing out as they walk on-site won’t work during a pandemic.

The Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure theme park in Lenwade, England has understood that from the very beginning. Since closing their park in March, Roarr! has offered a slew of virtual offerings, including an online Design a Dinosaur competition, a free downloadable activity book (complete with a handwashing guide) and — something unique to the remote life we’re all suddenly living — Roarr-some video conference backgrounds for your endless Zoom meetings.

While you don’t have to go as above and beyond as Roarr!, you certainly can’t go wrong with sprucing up some HD photos from the last marketing shoot to share as a fun background.

2. Rebound with Virtual Content

Whether you’ve already secured thousands of followers on social or are using the quarantine as an excuse to start a Facebook page, now is your chance to wow with virtual content. But you can’t just post a picture and hope it goes viral. Rather, you have to engage with your audience.

Zoos and aquariums do this incredibly well by focusing on their animals. They understand that the critters are the main attraction and are happy to restrategize their content to keep them in the spotlight. Take the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, for example. They host a weekly Home Safari Facebook Lives event every day at 3 p.m. for fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at their animals. Plus, they share the final video on their feed afterward with a note about donations.

To help get your team on board, host an online meeting and share what you think your audience misses most. Give them examples of what your local competition is up to, and what unique content your own destination can create.

3. Regularly Update Your Fans

Last but not least, keep your audience updated. That could be an email to the list of passholders you’ve been building for years, a social post to the followers you’ve amassed online or even a website pop-up to the people behind the pageviews on your website.

For the Field Museum in Chicago, that means posting a red banner on their website that reads, “For the safety of our community, the Museum is closed until further notice.” It’s even got a hyperlink tacked on the end that leads to a new Updates on Coronavirus webpage outlining their response as a museum (available in both English and Spanish).

Whatever you do, make sure to keep your audience in the loop so they know 1) what you’re doing to keep your destination safe, and 2) when they can expect a reopening. Even if you don’t have a set date, simply posting a note that you have no plans to open within the next month can soothe your more die-hard inquisitors. Plus, putting the information out there for such easy consumption could also grab the attention of a local reporter trying to report on the state of their area.

And there you have it! Three of the best ways destination-based businesses have stayed relevant during the pandemic — even if their destination is closed.