Public Relations is the art of connecting with people. It involves the ability of creating relationships between organizations and their publics. It involves the power of making the world as passionate about something as the people we are representing. That power comes with a huge responsibility: understanding people and using our voice to produce positive influence. In order to successfully do that, we must appreciate different perspectives and respect everyone that comes from all walks of life.
This month PRSA chose to focus on diversity. According to dictionary.com, diversity is the “state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness”. All of that is correct, but it is so much more than that. It’s a celebration of differences - different perspectives, different cultures and different stories that lead people down individual paths. All of these paths produce billions of distinct people. Growing up in a generation that is proud of having diversity incorporated in every area of our lives is a blessing and a privilege. Celebrating diversity is equivalent to celebrating equal opportunity. The truth is, if you don’t appreciate diversity, you can not fight for equality and that is a fight that belongs to all of us.
The real question is, where does this fight take place in our field? The answer is simple. The fight belongs at wherever the conversation is taking place. We can incorporate diversity by allowing space at the table for every voice to be heard equally. If PR is the art of connecting with people, we must pay attention to those that are easily dismissed, because everyone has a voice that deserves to be valued. Every human has a perspective that deserves to be shared. Every professional has a distinct contribution that only they can bring due to their individual’s experience. A person’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, social class and the community they were raised in might not define them, but it gives them a special angle in our field.
“The US consumer market is changing. Multicultural Americans are not only driving culture, but we’re driving markets,” said Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President of Nielsen. “If your teams don’t reflect or understand your customer base, it’s not just bad optics; it’s strategy malpractice.”
As professionals, we can definitely make an effort to understand every customer, but would it not be more valuable to incorporate people on our teams that have direct connections to the demographics we are attempting to reach? The millennial demographic is a diverse one, which means that having diverse team members is an essential component that every PR professional should take seriously.
Working in public relations allows us to build these beautiful bridges between organizations and their publics. These bridges connect people in mutually beneficial relationships that hopefully contribute positively to the world. However, to build a bridge with a strong foundation we must incorporate people with strong voices that offer a different perspective and the ability to connect with groups of people, especially those that usually lack representation. As PRSSA members, we get to decide what type of professionals we are going to be in the future. Let’s decide to be professionals that make room for everyone at the table.
This blog post was written by Maria Ribeiro, General Body Member