EDITORIAL: PRWeek recognizes the hole in its diversity coverage, and asks for your help in filling it

The group of PR professionals that assembled in Chicago last month to talk about practicing PR in the region was outstanding, but not fully representative. In spite of our efforts, we did not manage to include any local senior African-American, Asian, or Hispanic PR practitioners in the mix. Diversity of industry, of size of organization, of backgrounds was achieved. Ethnic and racial diversity was not.

The group of PR professionals that assembled in Chicago last month to talk about practicing PR in the region was outstanding, but not fully representative. In spite of our efforts, we did not manage to include any local senior African-American, Asian, or Hispanic PR practitioners in the mix. Diversity of industry, of size of organization, of backgrounds was achieved. Ethnic and racial diversity was not.

As a matter of policy, I never make any excuses. As such, we accept full responsibility any time one of our articles fails to meet the highest standards. But I hope our readers are aware that we are not complacent about this issue. I have personally had many conversations about finding ways to ensure that we are fully inclusive in our coverage of the PR field. In more ways than I believe are recognized, this magazine has made great strides towards identifying and acknowledging the work of professionals of varying races and backgrounds. Big features like the forums invariably, and understandably, come under greater scrutiny than other elements. Another important point is our PRWeek Awards judging pool, which lacked diversity last year. This year, we started recruiting judges much earlier than in the past so that we would not have the same problem again. The regional forums were introduced this year and have become our most heavily pitched feature. Assembling a roundtable like this involves sifting through the many solicitations, looking at what agencies and companies tell a story about the city or region they occupy. We try to make sure that we include as many different organizations as possible. Fairness and high standards are the key elements in determining our selections. Sometimes our first choices are unable to participate, as was the case in both our Los Angeles and Chicago roundtables, where diversity was not represented. Clearly, we need to do a better job of exhausting the resources we have to identify the best, most representative group of people we can at all times. But I am once again calling on PR professionals to help us by identifying respected senior practitioners in their communities. I have been extremely gratified by the offers of help from very senior people in this industry, and encourage more people to take their lead. Too often, I hear second-hand complaints from people I do not know, those who wonder why they or their peers were not invited, but don't pick up the phone or send an e-mail to make themselves known to me. In media relations terms that I know we all understand, that's not an effective way to effect change in coverage. Even more broadly, helping organizations do a better job of serving their communities requires more than just pointing out the problem. It requires the kind of effort that the individuals who have taken the time to write the letters on this page demonstrate. I accept fully that PRWeek has an enormous responsibility to the industry. And we are learning new lessons with each forum. Because I promise you, we are going back to Chicago next year. Help us do a better job reflecting the depth and breadth of that city, and the other regions we cover.

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