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Embracing Change: When Cultural Diversity Meets Your Chapter

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Editor’s note: In August, PRSA will celebrate PR Diversity Month by focusing on the diverse communities, people and practices that comprise the public relations profession. We will also be providing advice and insight on how to build a better PR industry through diversity and inclusion. We’ve invited PR practitioners and thought leaders to offer their insights on various diversity and inclusion topics important to the PR profession. Follow the series and join the discussion by using the hashtag #PRDiversity. For more information on Diversity Month activities visit the Diversity Month section of the PRSA site.


For those of us fortunate enough to call Nashville, Tenn. home, we are well aware that our secret is out. Dubbed an “it” city in the New York Times, people all across the globe are learning why Music City is consistently ranked among the top places to live, work and play.

Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, fueled in large part by its Hispanic population which has increased 13-fold since 1990. In fact, 12 percent of the city’s population was born outside of the U.S., and nearly half of the foreign-born population are immigrants who entered the country since 2000.

There is no denying the evolution of Nashville’s cultural diversity in recent years, and the changing demographics prove what our famous southern hospitality has long assumed: there is a place here for everyone.

As public relations practitioners deeply involved with helping our clients and organizations succeed, we recognize Nashville’s progress and accept the opportunity to evolve with it. The PRSA Nashville chapter values diversity not only in terms of racial and ethnic diversity, but also by type of industry represented, gender, practitioner age and sexual orientation.

In 2015, we have worked to increase the chapter’s focus on raising awareness about diversity and attracting more diverse members to the organization.

Leveraging web and social media to educate and connect

We have hosted, for the first time, several free video chats for our members via Google Hangout with top industry leaders in the areas of multicultural engagement, diversity and inclusion. This series is an online discussion about corporate brands communicating diversity and inclusion through issues and audiences. Speakers have included Matias Cavallin with the Zeno Group and L. Michelle Smith with AT&T, each providing case studies and campaign strategies focusing on results of multicultural outreach. Viewers have an opportunity for Q&A with the speakers using the hashtag #PRDiversity. Our video chats currently have over 250 views since going live on our YouTube channel earlier this spring.

Presenting programs that heighten the awareness of cultural changes

The diversity of our programming and speakers appeals to a variety of unique audiences. Topics range from Nashville’s tourism and hospitality industry, to grassroots PR, to presentation skills and establishing an authentic personal brand, to working with bloggers and digital news outlets. PRSA Nashville also welcomed Anthony Carter, Vice President of Global Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for Johnson & Johnson, at our January luncheon to talk about the converging power of diversity and communication and how it impacts brand awareness and engagement.

Equipping your chapter with data to plan ahead

With Nashville’s booming economy, which has ranked among the fastest-growing in the nation in recent years, practitioners are moving to Nashville and adjusting to a new city culture. Our young professionals group is growing, and millennials are engaged and serving in leadership positions within the chapter. But, there is more work to be done. Our strategic planning committee is in the process of surveying and assessing the demographics of our membership, which has predominately been comprised of white females. As key influencers, we know we must shift with the changes taking place in our city. The diversity and inclusion needs of potential and current members must be considered.

With growth, there is tremendous opportunity as well as unique challenges. But, that’s what makes Nashville a great example of modern America and the place we are proud to call home.

Laurie Parker, APR is President, PRSA Nashville and Corporate Communications Supervisor,Laurie Parker Headshot (PRSA) Nashville Electric Service. Laurie joined Nashville Electric Service in 2005 and serves as a company spokesperson, implements public relations campaigns, directs social media outreach and monitoring, oversees corporate branding and communications strategy, provides counsel to upper management, and manages website and mobile initiatives for the company. Prior to NES, Laurie worked as a reporter and anchor in Kentucky and Alabama. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University and serves on their Department of Communication & Journalism advisory board.


About the author

Laurie Parker, APR

1 Comment

  • Great points, Laurie! I believe you are spot on regarding presenting data to the chapter in order to make the business case for D&I. Many times our perception of diversity within our organizations does not reflect the reality.

    Data can paint a different picture and demonstrate the need to better reflect the communities we represent. Tying data to organizational objectives helps justify a chapter’s investment in time, resources, and capital.

    Great work!

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