Celebrating Diversity Should Not End in August

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the PRSA Pittsburgh blog. While PRSA celebrated Diversity month in August, this blog is a great reminder how our profession can and should be inclusive year-round. 

In recent months, headlines of violent attacks, mass shootings and tragic moments have occupied the majority of our Facebook and Twitter feeds, causing many of us to question if society is progressing or regressing in its efforts to accept others. 

In a world often overwhelmed with hate and judgment, we as public relations professionals need to serve as thought leaders and celebrate diversity in the industry as well as encourage others to follow suit.

Luckily, PRSA dedicates the month of August to bring attention to diversity in public relations and facilitate inspiring conversations that hope to bridge any gap between diversity and the workplace.

Diversity Month, led by the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion Committee, seeks to inform and educate the public relations profession about ongoing issues and concerns regarding diversity in public relations. According to PRSA, the committee’s mission is to make the Society more inclusive and welcoming by:

  • Reaching out to industry professionals of diverse racial backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations,
  • Helping diversify the industry by supporting minority candidates who aspire a career in public relations by offering support in the development of industry knowledge, relevant skills and a network of professional contacts,
  • Bringing multicultural understanding and expertise to public relations professionals in order to address the diverse audiences in the nation.

With an array of interactive events, social programs and blog posts for members to explore and join the conversation, PRSA does a commendable job in raising awareness and celebrating the diverse backgrounds in the industry.

But acknowledging and discussing diversity should not end at the conclusion of August. Many companies have taken advantage of the resources PRSA has offered this month by holding diversity-focused meetings, participating in Twitter chats and collaborating with other organizations; however, as public relations professionals, we need to continue the conversation.

If your company is lacking in diverse efforts, get approval from your company’s leadership and begin by defining what diversity means to them. Diversity has a different meaning to everyone, but at its core means recognizing and accepting all individuals. Once you have established a definition, develop a strong committee to start conversations and initiatives.

If your workplace is already committed to creating a diverse environment, make sure all employees are aware of this inclusive mindset. The only way employees will truly know if their company accepts diversity is by seeing it firsthand, so by including your company’s diversity initiatives into leadership trainings and professional development workshops, your company will operate in a more cohesive manner.

Accepting diversity makes us smarter, more well-rounded as well as allows us to become more innovative and creative. This way of thinking and living should carry with us for more than one month out of the year. Keep the conversation of diversity and inclusion going long after August ends, and continue to maintain a work environment that is filled with acceptance.

jordan-mitrikJordan Mitrik is an account executive at Jampole Communications and serves as blog coordinator for PRSA Pittsburgh. He is a recent Waynesburg University graduate where he studied public relations and marketing. Connect with Jordan: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website 

Embracing Diversity In and Out of the Office

Diversity is one of the biggest employer buzzwords out there right now, but the truth is that PR has a big diversity problem. One of the main problems with workplace diversity is that it’s sometimes viewed as a top-down initiative meant to make the company look good, not to improve the workplace or services offered. New Pros, with their differing outlooks and definitions of what “diversity” is, can help solve PR’s lingering issue.

Original plans for diversity included hiring people of different races, backgrounds, genders, etc., and to have those groups equally represented within the workplace to create a diverse employee pool. But is that actually the thing to do to help better understand and provide for your clients and audiences or is that just checking off boxes and creating a fun illusion of inclusion and diversity? I’d say it’s the latter.

Today’s new pros are a great example of the cultural shift happening in America, and the world over. More and more of us come from blended backgrounds and we’re described as “an ethnically diverse generation who are team players, optimistic, confident, trusting of authority, rule-followers, achievers in school and generally achievement-oriented in everything they undertake.” Seeing, interacting with and working with people from diverse backgrounds is commonplace because that’s the world we’ve come of age in. We care more about diversity in ideas, philosophies and perspectives than how people look, where they’re from and whether there’s equal representation.


The biggest benefit of a diverse team is that it inspires creativity and productivity. Thoughtfully listening to and talking with those who see things and think about things in ways that you may not helps us to see new perspectives and think outside of our normal boxes. It almost goes without saying that there’s no such thing as being too creative in PR. The open flow of communication between employees of all backgrounds is important to effective brainstorming and problem solving and should be used by all teams, even if that means taking the brainstorming sessions into your own hands and on your own time.

In addition to being more productive and better problem solvers, a diverse team tends to adapt more easily. Whether that’s to new obstacles, changes within the team or changes to the project, adaptability is important to success, especially in PR, where things constantly change. Talking through problems and strategizing the best plan for what’s ahead is a key advantage that comes from bringing together people with varied perspectives and backgrounds to tackle a project.

Since diversity often be a bigger initiative put in place by executives or managers, it may seem like there’s nothing that a new pro can do to influence how diverse a team they are work on. There are plenty of things that today’s new pros can do to make diversity a common part of their their career development. When you have the opportunity, speak up about any coworkers whom you think would add a good, new perspective to a project you’re working on if there’s an opportunity for adding a new team member or seeking out their thoughts.When you’re in a position, maybe a little further along in your career, to make decisions on team structure, bring in members who think differently than you do and offer a different perspective.

New pros should also look outside the workplace to embrace diversity. Look for opportunities to embrace another culture, through festivals, celebrations, studying or simply interacting with those of another culture near you. Travel and experience new areas and traditions. Seek out friends of different backgrounds and ideas. Make diversity less about having equal representation or “checking the boxes” to make sure everything’s covered and more about being a well-rounded, open-minded professional.

Robyn Rudish-Laning (1)Robyn Rudish-Laning is a member of South Carolina’s PRSA chapter and is communications coordinator for the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. Robyn is also a member of the New Professionals executive committee and is a two-time graduate of Duquesne University who currently lives in Columbia, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter or read her blog here.

Become a Diversity Superhero: Use Your #PRDiversity Superpowers

Happy Diversity Month, new professionals!

I am passionate about diversity and human rights, but I don’t consider myself an activist. Rather, I am a storyteller, I am a superhero with a superpower. I believe that public relations professionals have the superpower to influence people’s behaviors not by communicating empty words but by using real stories to become agents of change.

Back in mid 2014, I decided to become a superhero with PRSA so I joined the Diversity Committee (now called Diversity and Inclusion Committee). As a committee member, I have seen super heroes from various backgrounds and different career stages work together in a variety of initiatives. In the committee, we use our superpowers to educate our membership on current issues related to diversity and inclusion throughout partnerships with the PRSA Foundation and other affiliate organizations, contributing blog posts to PRSay, hosting webinars and the #PRDiversity Twitter chats.

Although progress has been made, the work done by the D&I committee in cooperation with industry leaders and companies is far from complete. As our industry continues to evolve and to adapt to the new technologies we are presented with almost every day, the need to diversify the demographics of our practitioners and to work towards a more inclusive work environment is still as relevant today as it was more than 20 years ago when PRSA launched its first diversity initiative.

A launching statement for Diversity Month this year: “Lack of #PRDiversity makes Diversity Month more relevant” by Ana Toro, APR, Fellow PRSA stated, “many studies indicate that the industry still struggles to attract young Black, Asians, and Hispanic to pursue public relations as their career choice, while there is a lack of diversity in management positions industry-wide.”

The New Professionals Section leadership understands the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion among young practitioners. This year, I was selected as a diversity superhero (formally known as diversity liaison) for our section. In this role, I started two main initiatives that will be relaunched over Diversity Month:

* #DiversityTuesday: the posting of digital content over Twitter and Facebook that aims to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion topics of importance to new pros.

* What does diversity mean to you? Blog Series: A blog series that invites young practitioners to share their thoughts on diversity and inclusion through blog posting. On that note, if you would like to contribute to the series, contact me at henryc@uvu.edu.

In the second half of the year, an updated version of the Diversity Tool Kit® will be distributed to the local New Professional Leadership to contribute to and promote their diversity efforts.

Become a Diversity Superhero: Celebrate Diversity Month!

* Join and learn from Hugo Balta, Senior Director of Multicultural Content at ESPN, at PRSA’s webinar: “Diversity & Inclusion: The Competitive Edge” on August 16th from 3-4 PM EDT.

* Follow @PRSADiversity and use the #PRDiversity to promote an online conversation in diversity and inclusion topics.

* Post a diversity related question or share your knowledge with other professionals on the Online Forum hosted by the D&I Committee.

When we transitioned from PRSSA to PRSA, we all came with a different set of skills and aspirations. Not all of us came from the same demographic and socio economic background. Our job experiences along with our opinions and beliefs were, are, and will never be the same. All these components blended together make us unique and diverse.

To become a diversity superhero, working towards inclusion, and more specifically, acceptance, is a must. To excel in our profession and move on to management roles successfully, accepting all members of our team is an imperative. Being or learning to be in the mindset that all team members are valuable and have something to contribute will make of our industry more diverse and welcoming.

How are you going to become a superhero for Diversity Month?

Untitled design (10)Henry Cervera Nique serves as the diversity liaison for the New Professionals Section and is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Follow him on Twitter @SoyHenryCervera


Diversity in PR: A Millennial Perspective

As the PR industry continues to evolve, so should the practices being used to attract, retain and develop talent. After all, the PR students learning in classrooms today are the future leaders of our industry tomorrow.

Today, millennial PR professionals are considering more than just great benefits and a lucrative salary when it comes to starting a career in the PR industry. Millennials are looking for PR organizations that foster inclusion, uphold diversity and create a sense of belonging for all employees.

The need for diversity in PR is more prevalent than ever among the generation of millennial PR professionals because diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords or boxes to check, Millennials believe they are essential to business success.

Millennials are looking for PR organizations that foster inclusion, uphold diversity and create a sense of belonging for all employees.

For PR employers to maintain diversity in their organizations, engage millennial PR professionals and drive the industry forward, they should consider the following:

  • Create a mentorship program for entry-level Millennial PR professionals to engage with mid-senior level PR professionals and build relationships with them. Yes, everyone does not want to mentor (nor do they have to), but not offering a mentorship program in general sometimes prevents those who want to mentor from taking action. Some employees will rise to the occasion and others will wait for their employer to act. Now is the time for PR employers to act and make strides toward increasing diversity in the industry.
  • Develop a review system for millennial PR professionals to rate their PR organizations and provide honest input on the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. This will help bridge the gap between what PR employers believe is working and what Millennial PR professionals believe needs to improve. Employee feedback is essential for employers to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts overtime.
    • Nearly eight in 10 (79%) PR employers see their efforts to retain a diverse workforce as being successful.
    • Yet only two-thirds (67%) of young professionals agree with employees on their retention programs.
  • Foster an open-office culture where millennial PR professionals believe their voices will be heard, acknowledged and valued from management.
    • One-third of young professionals say the industry is not effectual at retaining a diverse workforce, compared with one-fifth of employers.
    • All results from a PRSA Foundation survey, which was in the field from October, 2014, to February, 2015. See the full survey here.
  • Demonstrate diversity and inclusion in all efforts. From the top-down, display a company culture where millennial PR professionals believe PR employers are authentic in their efforts and not viewing diversity as another “box to check.” Emulate the culture you want your employees to project and treat everyone with respect.
  • Present career opportunities and advancements to all employees. Do not assume some millennial PR professionals won’t “be a fit” or do not “meet the mold,” you’re looking to cast. Take time to get to know their passions, interests and career goals. Give all employees the opportunity to shine and don’t be a barrier to their success. Empower your employees to do their best.

What else would you add? Tweet us at #NPPRSA with the hashtag, #DiversityInPR and share the ways you believe PR employers can improve their diversity efforts in the PR industry.

SBrownHeadshotSabrina Browne is Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller in New York City. She prides herself on being a champion for the advancement of women and diversity in the PR industry. She is a member of PRSA New Pros and PRSA New Jersey, as well as a Scholarship Committee Member for the PRSA Foundation. Follow her on Twitter for all things PR and connect with her on LinkedIn here.




Appelbaum, L., & Walton, F. (2015, September). An examination of factors affecting the success of under-represented groups in the public relations profession. Retrieved from http://www.prsafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/CCNY-Diversity-Study-FINAL.pdf
Dishman, L. (2015, May 18). Millennials Have A Different Definition Of Diversity And Inclusion. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3046358/the-new-rules-of-work/millennials-have-a-different-definition-of-diversity-and-inclusion