Dare to be different: The Diversity Distinction in PR Awards

Any agency, regardless of size or location, can champion diversity and inclusion. Borshoff partner Katherine Coble proves it in this latest PR Council-sponsored column

Borshoff's Boot Camp has exposed 100-plus diverse students to a potential marcomms career
Borshoff's Boot Camp has exposed 100-plus diverse students to a potential marcomms career

It might sound dramatic, but in the creative industry you either adapt or die. Change happens fast. It comes whether you’re ready or not. The notion of reinventing yourself every day might seem cliché, but it’s not for us agency types. In fact, it’s a key reason for our success over three decades.

When Myra Borshoff started this journey 33-plus years ago, she understood that to be different was to be better. That bringing together a wide range of talents meant bringing more solutions for clients and, ultimately, more success.

She was one of the first local PR-firm owners to employ a creative team to help bring client strategies to life visually. Over the years, we’ve found other ways to push our perspective — through structure and process changes, team makeup, creative approaches, and strategies that didn’t necessarily fall in line with tradition.

In fact, thinking outside the lines is what led us to develop the Diversity Internship Boot Camp concept several years ago. Try as we might, we could not seem to get a diverse talent pool for interns, so we dug a little deeper. It turns out many minority candidates were not even considering PR or advertising as a viable career in their first two years of college. By their junior and senior years, they were committed to other tracks that would never bring them to our door.

The Boot Camp concept was developed as a way to introduce diverse students to the possibilities of PR and advertising. In our first three years, we were able to expose more than 100 Indianapolis-area college students to the possibilities of a career in our industry. And our agency is beyond proud that this program earned a Diversity Distinction in PR Award in both 2014 and 2016 as the Best PR Firm Diversity Initiative – less than $100 million in annual revenue.

"Different drives the unexpected to attain impactful solutions," says Coble

The belief that "different is better" remains fixed within Borshoff’s DNA. We’ve found ourselves naturally thinking beyond the traditional definition of diversity. Yes, we’re a women-owned business employing a range of ages, genders, and ethnicities. But we’re most interested in individuals – the things that make us unique, that make us tick, that make us laugh or cry, and that inspire us to take action. Maybe it’s a skill set or a personality; a childhood or parenthood; educations or lifestyles; musical tastes or senses of humor. All our experiences, big and small, matter.

Different minds, backgrounds, and opinions mean different approaches to clients, challenges, and ideas. Different drives the unexpected to attain impactful solutions. That’s why different is important to us. It’s why different needs to be important to you.

Over the years we’ve created new opportunities and pushed for new ways of thinking to solve problems. Is it the easiest or fastest way to get to success? Hardly. But for us, it’s the right way.

We don’t have all the answers. Our impact might be minimal. But at Borshoff we believe small differences add up to meaningful change. And that’s the whole point, right?

Katherine Coble is principal at Borshoff.

Click here for a previous column by Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky and here for one by BrandLab executive director Ellen Walthour.

And in early May, the PR Council, in partnership with PRWeek, will launch the eighth annual Diversity Distinction in PR Awards.

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