Payne: PR industry needs to take more steps towards diversity

As I reflect on this year's conference, I can't wait until next year's, but I know the work of NBPRS is far from done.

Richelle Payne
Richelle Payne

After three lively, intense, and engaging days of the 2014 National Black Public Relations Society annual conference and career fair, my head is spinning.

We discussed, debated, educated each other, and celebrated the successes of our legendary predecessors, Pat Tobin and Ofield Dukes. They would have been proud, especially when one college student said at the end that she now embraces transformation as a part of her life and as a part of being successful in the public relations profession.

Pat and Ofield would have smiled when a veteran African-American practitioner at one of the world's largest PR agencies said he knows that after two decades he still has so much to learn. Pat and Ofield would have shouted out an "amen" to a representative of the PR Council, who said she would do anything she possible could to ensure PR agencies followed through on their commitments to recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse professionals.

As I reflect on this year's conference, I can't wait until next year's, but I know the work of NBPRS is far from done. We need more supporters like Edelman, MSLGroup, Safeway, Black PR Wire, Coca-Cola, and Walmart. We need more professionals and industry partners to join our mission to support each other to ensure that diversity is top-of-mind at our public relations agencies and corporate communications departments.  We certainly can’t be successful without local partnerships, such as the one we had with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

What I know is that this conference has energized me, my colleagues, and students to spread the word even more about what we do and why we do it. Pat Tobin and Ofield Dukes have passed the baton to us. I'm ready to run harder and faster than ever. Are you? 

Richelle Payne is president of the National Black Public Relations Society, based in Los Angeles, and managing partner and consultant at Hurst & Leigh Communications Group, a Philadelphia-based boutique PR consulting practice. Contact her at @rickroxpr or @nbprs.

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