Changing the face of PR

I’ve just had a meeting with three highly experienced and forward-thinking people in my industry.

This is unusual (I’m sorry to say).

Why? Well it’s because the subject was the perennial bug bear of mine – the lack of diversity at every level in the PR industry. Yawn.

Yes yawn. I’m completely fed up to the proverbial back teeth chewing the fat on this subject. But this time, it’s action focused not a talking shop.

We all acknowledge the one-dimensional industry we work in where industry awards events, and this is recent experience, with 80 or so people from the PR world gather to pat themselves on the back but where only one person in the room was non-white. That person is part of my team and I’m embarrassed that in 2019 the industry looks the same as it did when I started my first job in PR 25 years ago.

Of course diversity and inclusion are drums which everyone is now banging, but few are doing anything which actually really moves the dial.

Diversity means different things to different people and that is exactly its true meaning whether for you it means ethnicity, religion, sexuality, age, gender or disability it doesn’t matter. PR definitely does not stand for societal proportional representation.

It’s time to end the plethora of excuses. “I can only recruit from people who apply to me”; “we’re too small a business to be diverse” “it’s hard to reach ‘hard to reach’ communities”.  I passionately despise the term ‘hard to reach’. But labelling – that’s another subject.

Those quotes have been delivered to me over the last few years by my industry peers, and therein lies the problem. Apathy at best and ignorance at worst.

What can you do?

So, instead of dwelling on this systemic inaction, here’s a few practical things which we’ve done in my business over the last few years. They’re not radical ideas. They don’t reach huge numbers of people. But our initiatives do reach some people. If this article inspires ONE person in a position of responsibility to step up and take some action it’s been worth the time to write it:

  • Talks to secondary school students – age 14 and 15 – when they are starting to delve into their career choices to raise awareness of what public relations is and the roles therein
  • Mentoring/coaching of three people in the last three years who are looking for advice/support to get into the industry
  • Commitment to one annual year 10 work placement every year for one week
  • Internships programme – in the last three years we have taken on seven people from a range of backgrounds and given them tangible and crucially paid, experience
  • Creation of a fixed term admin assistant role through fantastic Bristol based youth empowerment organisation, Babbasa  

We are also committed to challenging stereotypes in campaign briefs, representation in editorial content and brand visuals.

We’re doing our bit and if every business like ours did their bit I think this article would be redundant.

As Emily Wilding Davison, member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and suffrage campaigner promoted ‘deeds, not words’. Yes, actions speak louder than words.

Watch this space to see what we do next, and if you’re interested in doing something. Get in touch:

 In the meantime, an organisation which is committed to the deeds not words mantra is Bristol 24/7. We’re proud to be members of their Better Bristol initiative in our city and here’s an example of our work with St Pauls Carnival over recent weeks: