In honor of Black History Month, here is a roundup of articles about and by African American public relations professionals regarding their legacy in the industry, the state of the PR today, and looking to the future.
At an event hosted by the Museum of Public Relations in May 2017, African American pioneers in the industry were spotlighted for their incredible contributions to the industry, including Inez Kaiser, the first African American woman to found her own PR firm; Moss Kendriz, the father of black public relations; and several others.
“These are stories that have never been told, but we needed them to be told because they’re not in any textbook,” says Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum of Public Relations and president of Spector Corporate Communications and Public Relations.
In 2016, PRSA hosted a Twitter chat focused on diversity during Black History Month. This recap and archive of the event is an opportunity to take in the perspectives from PR leaders on diversity and inclusion, and reflect on why it is so crucial to the skills we need to build more.
— Journalist Life (@RuthYoungTyler) February 18, 2016
3. Examples of Excellence: What Black History Month Means Professionally to One African American Agency Leader
In this PRSay article, Andrew McCaskill offers his perspective on what African American History month means to him as an African American senior leader at a PR firm—and simply, the great responsibility to he feels to pass it forward as an African American leader in this industry, period.
“I am a benefactor of these examples of great Black senior leaders, but I also am required to be equally as aspirational and accessible to professional newcomers. Excellence in my own career is not enough. I have a responsibility to be accessible to young practitioners who need to see where the path of stuffing press kits and writing great press release drafts can lead.”
Published in 2012, this is an older article from Ragan PR Daily, but certainly still a relevant one.
From 2005 to 2010, representation of African American and Hispanic practitioners among PRSA membership grew significantly, but there is still a long way to go. With an appeal to the value of diversity not just on a personal level but for the industry, Natalie Tindale, Ph.D., calls for continued efforts:
“More work must be done to encourage African-Americans into the profession, to retain black practitioners, and to promote African-Americans to senior-level positions within corporations and agencies. Public relations professional associations have a special role in promoting diversity in the industry.”
Honoring Black History Month in PR
There is no question about it, we are all stronger when we celebrate and make room for diversity in our lives—and our offices.
When we honor the contributions of and seek out the perspectives of African Americans and other minority professionals, everyone stands to gain.