The papal conclave has begun in Vatican City – an event that has significance not just for America’s 78 million Catholics, but also for communicators everywhere. Regardless of one’s faith or views about Pope Benedict XIV and his church, the papal succession presents a fascinating case study of one of the world’s most venerable institutions facing the challenge of communicating in an era of dramatic change.
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Of conclaves and communication: As Cardinals gather in Rome, there are lessons for communicators everywhere
Examples of Excellence: What Black History Month Means Professionally to One African American Agency Leader
Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month in February, PRSA invited prominent public relations professionals to offer their views and ideas for achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity in the profession as well as what Black History Month means to them. A compilation of previous PRSA Black History Month blog posts can be found here.
People are more than five times more likely to do the right thing when they have some time to think about the matter than when they have to make a snap decision, according to a recent study from the Academy of Management.
Unfortunately, as PR professionals, too often we don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to making a decision. Like many of you, I rarely encounter a situation where clients say “take the time you need.”
I strongly encourage a methodical, data-based approach to decision-making; whenever possible professionals should look at all sides of a knotty problem. This is particularly important when it comes to an ethical issue, as there are often varying shades of grey in the question.
But PR people often face their ethical dilemmas when a reporter is calling and asking a question, or the client presents an idea, asks “Any objections?” or simply tells them what is happening. It that case, the luxury of time doesn’t exist, so we don’t have the time benefit the study recommends.
Does that mean we throw up our hands, trust our gut and settle for less ethical decision making? No.
Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month in February, PRSA invited prominent black leaders in the public relations profession to offer their views and ideas for achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity in the profession. This is the second post in the series. Previous PRSA Black History Month blog posts can be found here.
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 the anyone even bothered to call what we do “public relations.” For example, anti-slavery associations used emotional appeals and testimonials to persuade 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 practitioners and other practitioners of color.
A 2010 census of PRSA’s 22,000 professional members shows that 14 percent of the membership self-identified as Hispanic, Black/African American, Asian/Asian American. That percentage has doubled since 2005.
In a report given at the PRSA Educators Academy Conference, Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., and I noted that “a very real possibility exists that minorities are not entering the public relations profession because the industry has failed to explicate to professionals the viability of this career option.” As a professor, I have seen this firsthand. I encounter students of color who question if there is room for them in this profession because they do not see others who look like them in the places where they wish to work.
Editor’s note: In celebration of Black History Month in February, PRSA invited prominent black leaders in the public relations profession to offer their views and ideas for achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity in the profession. This is the first post in the series. A compilation of previous PRSA Black History Month blog posts can be found here.
When I was younger and spoke before a group or wrote a commentary piece, I rarely quoted others. I imagined that somehow, by doing so, I might suggest to the audience that I didn’t have any thoughts or ideas of my own. Over the years, this became habit. So, on the occasion of Black History Month, I am purposefully writing a piece sprinkled with quotes by amazing African-Americans.
As a news junkie, I’m always combing the trades, papers and trusted online news sites to learn who’s doing what in Corporate America, particularly women, and especially African-American women.
When Ursula Burns became Chairman and CEO of Xerox, it was a moment of pride and reflection. How did she get there? How does she measure success? Rosalind G. Brewer, Sam’s Club’s new president and CEO, signaled to me that surprises can happen in the most unexpected places. And, like most of the world, I’m watching closely, the public life of Michelle Obama.
Without knowing any of these women personally, I can say with confidence that these women have courage, are principled leaders and have embraced the tenets and ethics of the public relations profession. I can also take the leap and suggest that the ladies believe as Booker T. Washington believed:
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
— Booker T. Washington
Each year, I look to the Catalyst organization to give me an update on where we stand as African-American women in the workplace. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture of the obstacles African-American women face in Corporate America.
When you consider women of color held only 3 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500 in both 2010 and 2011, and that is down from 3.1 percent in 2009, it becomes apparent that what should motivate us is not a position or title, but being vigilant to one’s core values.
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PRSAY is a forum for PRSA members and other public relations professionals to engage in a dialogue with PRSA leaders, exchange viewpoints, and share perspectives on issues of concern to the Society and the public relations industry as a whole. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of PRSA.