Black PR Society courts CEOs in hopes of removing color barrier

WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to get more PR firms to hire minority professionals, the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) has invited 25 CEOs of top PR firms to a reception next week in Washington. But while representatives from many of the industry’s largest firms are expected to attend, black PR leaders are skeptical the event will effect any meaningful change.

WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to get more PR firms to hire minority professionals, the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) has invited 25 CEOs of top PR firms to a reception next week in Washington. But while representatives from many of the industry’s largest firms are expected to attend, black PR leaders are skeptical the event will effect any meaningful change.

WASHINGTON, DC: In an effort to get more PR firms to hire minority

professionals, the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) has invited 25

CEOs of top PR firms to a reception next week in Washington. But while

representatives from many of the industry’s largest firms are expected

to attend, black PR leaders are skeptical the event will effect any

meaningful change.



’Corporate America does a fine job,’ said Lagrant Communications founder

and president Kim Hunter. ’PR agencies do a horrible, horrible job. They

talk a good game but don’t give a damn about diversity.’



’That’s just not true,’ countered Peter Himler, an MD in

Burson-Marsteller’s NY corporate practice, pointing to his firm’s

recruitment efforts at black universities and hosting of the BPRS’ NY

chapter meetings. Added Shandwick Public Affairs chairman and CEO Jody

Powell, ’Active and aggressive recruitment of minorities is a real

priority, but there is certainly room for improvement.’



Despite the profession’s current desperation for top people, BPRS

president Ofield Dukes believes that blacks are not being hired ’at the

level of their potential’ by PR agencies. He said that many senior jobs

are available but black candidates are often not given serious

consideration by either agencies or search firms.



’I hate to be blunt, but it’s racism,’ added Lon Walls, president of

Walls Communications. ’Firms are not very comfortable with having large

numbers of African-Americans in PR. We just don’t make it into major PR

firms.’



Walls pointed to a handful of colleagues who left highly visible TV

careers to work at PR agencies. He claims they are not being used,

respected or treated as well as their white counterparts.



Next week’s BPRS reception is designed to familiarize large agencies

(which commonly bid for and win big-dollar federal contracts with

minority components) with some of the profession’s best-regarded

minority firms.



Dukes said the large firms often claim that they can’t find minority

firms with whom to partner.



However, Hunter - whose firm is a part of the Arnold Communications and

Porter Novelli-led team that won the multimillion-dollar American Legacy

Foundation anti-tobacco account last year - said that being tapped as a

partner doesn’t ensure that you’ll receive any meaningful work. ’It’s

been one year and we haven’t been given one assignment,’ he said.



This week, Hunter’s foundation, The Lagrant Foundation, will present

scholarships to 10 minority students pursuing college degrees in PR and

related marketing fields. In his quest for funds, he had no trouble

getting large donations from corporations like Nissan North America. But

he said that for the second straight year, major PR firms (with the

exception of Hill & Knowlton) gave him the cold shoulder.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in