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February 08, 2012

PRSA Examines State of Diversity in PR in PRDaily Op-Ed

In a Feb. 7, 2012, op-ed in Ragan’s PRDaily, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) examines the state of diversity in the public relations profession. Written by Natalie Tindall, Ph.D., chair of PRSA’s Diversity Committee, the opinion piece concludes that in regards to opportunities for minority professionals in public relations, some progress has been made in recent years for significant challenges persist.

The op-ed was published as part of PRSA’s celebration of Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, PRSA is publishing a blog series and other commentary from prominent African-American practitioners.

By Natalie Tindall, Ph.D., Chair, PRSA Diversity Committee
Ragan’s PRDaily  
Published: Feb. 7, 2012
With February marking Black History Month in America, it’s worth examining the state of diversity in public relations, a profession that like many others, has had fits and starts when it comes to progress made toward racial diversity.

Black practitioners have been performing PR duties for nonprofits, social movements, corporations, and other institutions for decades. Like every group, African-Americans practiced public relations before anyone even bothered to call what we do “public relations.” For example, anti-slavery associations used emotional appeals and testimonials to convince audiences about the evils of slavery.

In the 20th century, there were several pioneering practitioners who dared to find their own space in the profession by starting their own firms, landing prominent clients eager to build relationships with non-majority audiences, becoming well-regarded counselors, and challenging the derogatory images of African-Americans that were prevalent at one time in our nation’s history.

African-American practitioners are still in the public relations trenches. It may appear that present-day practitioners have little in common with those who preceded us. We have a president who claims his African-American heritage; black men and women are CEOs of global companies. Although this is true, there remains a layer of invisibility for black PR pros and other practitioners of color.

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