How can PR attract more people from ethnic minorities, in the UK and the US?

Public relations is defined by the success of consumer perception of our clients and how we can entice them to engage with brands across multiple disciplines.

Sabrina Lynch: What can be done to attract more people from ethnic minorities into PR?
Sabrina Lynch: What can be done to attract more people from ethnic minorities into PR?
Therefore, I question through a practitioner lens why 'PR' as a brand suffers from a lack of engagement or understanding from ethnic minorities.  

When I posed the question 'what is PR in its basic form?' during a guest lecture to students at a Stateside college I was met with looks of confusion, but students could comprehensively explain what advertising or marketing was. 

Recent statistics released by the PRCA showed that only eight per cent of those practising public relations in the UK are from multicultural backgrounds compared with less than 14 per cent in the US, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. 

Education plays a fundamental role in attracting new recruits and keeping existing practitioners continuing in the industry. But education comes in different guises, some more enticing than others, and it is through these guises that newcomers have their preconceptions and myths about their role in PR completely dispelled and senior PR professionals learn how to use their experience as leverage to maintain a fruitful career. 

Meaning, controversially, invisible barriers can be created by ethnic minorities when starting off, and continuing with the belief that their career will be limited or stunted from the offset. 

When I asked some students in the UK to define what a publicist was, their thoughts turned immediately to entertainment rather than influential PRs for global brands, political parties or philanthropy causes. 

The prominent question raised by UK students I've encountered is: "How it is possible to carve a sound career in PR in a particular field that caters to my interests?" In the US I find the question usually raised by those curious about the profession is: "Will I inadvertently be niched and is there truly room for me?" 

These are two different outlooks that need to be treated with the same heavyweight approach.

The approach in the UK is, arguably, very light compared with Stateside. 

In the US, you have the National Black Public Relations Society, factions of Black Public Relations societies in LA, New York and additional cities.

The UK is investing but how is knowledge being nourished? 

For every Taylor Bennett Foundation in the UK, there are multiple US support groups, networks and associations that aid PR professionals at different stages of their career showing both the newbies and experienced practitioners the many careers paths available to them. 

It is unfortunate that in 2014, there are a distinct lack of UK pinups to talk about the power there is in changing brand perceptions and the methods to do so.

Multicultural networks are also crucial to show there is support beyond entry level.
It shouldn't be left to just PR associations alone to go forth and entice new members with flagship faces. 

More senior practitioners should take their heads out of the PR sand and place them into the PR spotlight, share the goals they set for themselves and the level of hard work put in to reach their level of prominence. This is the only way in which the PR industry will reflect the diversity that it is tasked to represent.

Sabrina Lynch is a global PR consultant and former director of public relations for Saatchi & Saatchi

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