A report, compiled by Leeds Metropolitan University, has found that the industry could be doing more to value diversity of background.
The findings, based on the experiences of 50 black and minority ethnic PR practitioners, concluded that the industry was predominantly white and middle-class, and was limiting the careers and opportunities for practitioners from other ethnic groups.
The evidence suggested that characteristics, assets and attributes more readily available to white British, middle-class individuals were more recognised and valued. It also found that misplaced assumptions about skills, roles or capabilities based on ethnicity were being experienced by participants.
Report author Dr Lee Edwards said of the research: 'Making assumptions about practitioners' skills and suitability based on ethnicity or class rather than on individual talent sells those practitioners and the industry short.'
Ethnic PR agency Rich Visions' managing director Mavis Amankwah welcomed the research and agreed the industry needed to be better at valuing ethnic talent.
'Directors and senior managers need to come out of their comfort zones and embrace diversity,' said Amankwah.
'They need to get to know people as individuals, looking at their skills and experience, not their colour.
'The industry needs to run more targeted recruitment campaigns reaching ethnic minority audiences and engaging these communities in their own environment by visiting schools, colleges and other establishments.'
Bieneosa Ebite, MD of Bright Star PR and chair of Ignite, which promotes cultural diversity in PR, agreed with Amankwah and added: 'The research supports our views that the PR industry has failed to embed a culture of diversity and inclusion.
'The PRCA and CIPR need to address the issues raised in the research head-on. We need to champion a long-term view to diversity and not a tick-box exercise.'