The 4th annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards , sponsored by the Council of Public Relations Firms 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 and those who strive to encourage and strengthen diversity and inclusion across the PR workforce.

For 2014, award categories have been updated to encourage more participation by organizations of all types and sizes.

Recognition will be awarded in four overall areas, with two of those categories honoring 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 that 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.

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

Given the size of agencies eligible for the latter distinction, genuine intent and effort to promote the industry as a viable career option for diverse candidates will be highly recognized.

•Best In-House Diversity Initiative – open to corporations, nonprofits, and any other non-agency organizations
The main focus of this category is increasing 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.

•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, June 26, 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 working in the fields of communications and diversity and inclusion, chaired by the editor-in-chief of PRWeek .

Judging will take place on July 31 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 Council of PR Firms annual dinner in New York City on Wed., October 22, the evening before the Critical Issues Forum.

2014 Judges

  • Lori Billingsley, VP of community relations, Coca-Cola

  • Emma Carrasco, CMO, NPR

  • Ron Culp, director of PRAD MA Program, DePaul University

  • Nelson Fernandez, executive director and MD, New York, APCO Worldwide

  • Craig Muckle, Manager, public affairs/government relations, Safeway

  • Zing Shaw, VP of US diversity and inclusion, Edelman

  • Oscar Suris, EVP and corporate communications head, Wells Fargo

  • Ellen Walthour, executive director, The BrandLab

Webcast: Making Diversity the Norm

On March 27, PRWeek and the Council of Public Relations Firms presented “Making Diversity the Norm,” featuring Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky, Wells Fargo EVP and corporate comms head Oscar Suris, and Council of PR Firms president Kathy Cripps. This webcast underscored the importance of diversity and inclusion to the industry. Listen below as the esteemed panel shares thoughts and tips on how to best begin and/or advance diversity initiatives both at the organizational and industry-wide levels.