On Tuesday, February 16, Temple PRSSA was honored to have guest speaker Dr. Denise Hill, assistant professor at Elon University School of Communication, start a discussion on the importance of Black History Month and what it means in the public relations and communications field. Dr. Hill received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in communications from Temple University. She later received her Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of North Carolina. Her academic research focuses on public relations and the power it has to help marginalized groups in the United States gain civil rights.
Dr. Hill started her presentation by giving a historic overview of the month of February and why it is considered Black History Month. She stressed the importance of commemorating Black History in America every month of the year since it is a crucial aspect of U.S society.
She went on to describe the many reasons why communicators hold so much power in creating social change and our role when it comes to spreading cultural awareness. As a public relations team, members must be very culturally aware and sensitive when targeting audiences.
Throughout history, companies have been ethically unaware of the ads they have published. Dr. Hill gave a few examples of well-known brands that have released content representing bias towards people of color. In those situations, the communications team then must develop strategies for reputation management to guide the organization in the right direction. She went on to discuss the importance of being a PR major, and our obligations to develop communication skills to a wide range of people, not just a single group. The best way to do this is by being as educated as possible and having a strong awareness of cultural sensitivity. By us gaining knowledge and awareness, we can avoid crisis management situations and reduce serious missteps that have occurred time and time again.
As PR people we foster communication and discourse in our everyday lives. Given this, we have the opportunity to help marginalized groups have a voice. Throughout her discussion, Dr. Hill stressed the idea that social change does not happen without communicators because we allow voices to be heard on a much bigger platform.
To end the discussion, Dr. Hill was able to shed light on the work that still needs to be done for the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the continuous support for equal civil rights. Commemorating, remembering, and celebrating Black History needs to be embedded in our everyday lives. As a PR organization, we strive to create that movement in educating not only ourselves but our audiences as well.
This conversation that Dr. Hill provided was extremely informative and important for all students to be aware of, especially those looking to gain a position in PR. We play a huge role as communicators in relaying information in a culturally sensitive and respective way for all individuals.
This blog post was written by Lillian Sclafani, TSG and STARS Coordinator.