PR Gives Back: Walking the Walk

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Celebrating Diversity in Orange County, California through Communications

Public Relations professionals communicate a wide range of information for a wide variety of audiences. We stay abreast of the information, trends, and groups that may differ from those with whom we identify, as well as events that celebrate the beauty of diversity. We become spokespeople and subject matter experts, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

Working at the UC Irvine Libraries, I’m fortunate to be a member of a highly diverse workforce, with faculty and students regularly engaging in fieldwork and dialogue about issues of diversity. In addition, numerous cross-cultural organizations and centers on campus also serve as a good resources for me as a communications professional.

Our university is nearing the end of an 18-month 50th Anniversary celebration. Having celebratory activities, communications, and key stakeholders related to the success of the institution in the limelight presents opportunities for communications professionals to evaluate, and diversify, the stories we are sharing. At the Libraries, we undertook various roles in the anniversary celebration with a goal of sharing historically accurate and inclusive information. One example came in the form of an oral history project representing 50 stories from a variety of perspectives on campus, and another was the design of a physical timeline of the University that now resides in our Alumni Center. Both projects required not only relying on the intuition of being a public relations and communications professional, but a curious citizen, who is willing ask questions of others and get new perspectives.

When I worked outside of a university setting, representing a person or company, and finding  resources on deadline can be more challenging. In Orange County, I’ve found that one of the most helpful resources for communications professionals are nonprofit organizations like OC Human Relations, LGBT Center OC, Alzheimer’s Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Working Wardrobes. These organizations live and breathe work that directly benefits individuals of diverse backgrounds including people in the LGBTQ community, minorities, veterans, seniors, children, and more.

As professionals in the public relations and communications field, we can benefit from greater partnerships and conversations with nonprofit professionals. Likewise, nonprofit professionals can certainly benefit from expert communicators and marketers to help spread the word about the valuable work of their organizations.

The Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America engages annually in a PR Gives Back program to connect these two groups of professionals. We believe that giving back and understanding the climate of our county is important in the work that we do.  Many of the industry leaders in our chapter participate in this program and build relationships with nonprofits, which often includes additional pro-bono work. Other members of our board of directors and chapter have taught workshops on public relations and marketing at OneOC, a nonprofit resource center.

Our President Elect, Brenda Springer APR, did a workshop for OneOC for nonprofit professionals on setting realistic PR goals to align with in-house capacity and budget.  She advised the attendees on how to frame nonprofit stories to be relevant to the region’s media.

I encourage everyone to embrace nonprofits and other community groups that are “walking the walk” in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equality.

Charla Jeannine Batey, MBA is a communications professional based in Orange County, CA. She is currently the Communications & Events Officer for the UC Irvine Libraries and the PROTOS Awards Chair on the Board of Directors for OC/PRSA. Follow her @charlajbatey.

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Charla Batey, APR, MBA

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