The 5th annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards, sponsored by the PR Council in association with PRWeek, are now open. These awards honor excellence in promoting ethnic diversity within the PR sector. They reward individuals and organizations that play a key role in facilitating the recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse PR practitioners. They similarly support and inspire professionals of diverse backgrounds as well as those who strive to encourage and strengthen diversity and inclusion across the PR workforce.

For 2015, award categories have been updated to encourage more participation by organizations of all types and sizes. In addition, a new category is being introduced this year to honor new programs.

Questions and submissions should be sent to diversityawards@prweek.com.

Recognition will be awarded in five overall areas, with one of the categories rewarding winners in two separate divisions:

•Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative – open to PR agencies only
This award honors a communications firm’s successful efforts to improve ethnic diversity so it permeates all levels and divisions of the organization. Success in recruitment, retention, and promotion will be prominently considered.

Two winners will be rewarded in this category:
1. Firms with $25 million or more in annual revenue
2. Firms with less than $25 million in annual revenue

•Best Community Initiative – open to PR agencies only
Entries in this category need to demonstrate a PR firm’s leadership or support of a community service project or organization that works to promote diversity in a manner that can have a direct impact on the talent pipeline entering the PR industry, including at their own agency.

Note: this is not an award to recognize success in marketing to multicultural audiences.

In addition, previous winners of this category are welcome to enter the same program again IF that previously winning program expanded in a notable, quantifiable way.

•Best In-House Diversity Initiative – open to corporations, nonprofits, and any other non-agency organizations
The main focus of this category is increasing ethnic diversity on the communications staff of the submitting organization. The in-house communications team’s role in raising awareness and facilitating diversity efforts and staffing throughout the entire organization – beyond its own team – will also be recognized.

Note: this is not an award to recognize success in marketing to multicultural audiences.

In addition, previous winners of this category are welcome to enter the same program again IF that previously winning program expanded in a notable, quantifiable way. Previously winning organizations are also welcome to enter any new appropriate initiatives.

•Best New Diversity Initiative – open to all organizations, including PR firms, corporations, nonprofits, and any other non-agency entities
This award honors organizations that are making new and concerted efforts to address diversity and inclusion issues. It recognizes newly implemented programs that are intended to improve ethnic diversity so it permeates all levels and divisions of the organization. Only programs initiated on September 1, 2014 or later are eligible. (Any program initiated prior to that is certainly encouraged to enter another category.)

Note: Given the nature of this category, the difficulty in achieving notable results in such a short amount of time is understood. Intent and commitment to tackle diversity and inclusion issues is the true foundation of this category and will be of paramount consideration.

•Diversity Champion – open to all PR professionals
This award celebrates an exceptional individual who is a role model and champion of diversity in the PR industry through his or her actions. Submissions should clearly demonstrate how this individual's efforts have led to greater diversity among the broader PR workforce, in addition to at his or her organization(s).

One winner will be rewarded in this category – and the individual may work at an agency, corporation, academic institution, nonprofit, or a trade group. Past winners of this award are not eligible.

Deadline
The deadline for submissions is Thursday, August 18, at 5pm EST. Email questions and submissions to diversityawards@prweek.com.

Judging of Awards
The panel of judges for the Diversity Distinction in PR Awards will comprise a diverse group of respected professionals who have all made noteworthy contributions to the communications industry at large, but also specifically to advancing diversity and inclusion in PR. The judging panel will be chaired by the editor-in-chief of PRWeek.

Judging will take place on September 29 at PRWeek' s offices in New York City.

The winning entries will be written up in a feature in the November issue of PRWeek and featured on prweek.com. Winners will also be honored at the PR Council’s annual dinner in New York City on Wed., October 21, the evening before the Critical Issues Forum.

2015 Judges

  • Lynn Appelbaum, professor and Ad/PR program director, City College of New York

  • Deisha Barnett, senior director of corporate communications, Walmart

  • Alberto Canal, VP of corporate communications, Verizon

  • Judith Harrison, SVP, staffing and diversity & inclusion, Weber Shandwick

  • Latraviette Smith, SVP of communications, Sundial Brands

  • Monica Talan, EVP of corporate communications and PR, Univision

  • Scott Widmeyer, founder and managing partner, Widmeyer Communications

Webcast: Developing diversity

On July 16, PRWeek and the PR Council will present “Developing Diversity,” a webcast to underscore the importance of diversity and inclusion to the PR industry, as well as counsel on the role everyone can play toward that objective. The webcast will feature three esteemed leaders who are spearheading efforts not only at their own organizations, but across the industry: Dave Senay, CEO at FleishmanHillard; Kathy Cripps, president of the PR Council; and Tony Allen, corporate communications lead, consumer banking division, Bank of America.

Visit prweek.com/us/webcasts to register for free.