By: Zachara Ormsby
In my public relations class, PRL 206, we discussed the importance of why diversity and inclusiveness are important in the workplace and why it should be discussed. We began by defining diversity and inclusivity and the ways in which public relations (PR), as a profession, is working towards becoming more diverse and inclusive in the workplace. Diversity is defined as equal respect for and treatment of differences – in regard to race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality being the primary categories. However, diversity does not stop there, it also includes religion, disability, veteran status, nationality, social class and many more.
Diversity deals with remaining aware and sensitive to the variety of people in the PR field and diverse publics. Diversity should be viewed as an organic, fundamental part to the PR profession and consistent with the philosophy and process of the workplace, whether that is an organization, business, agency, etc. Diversity should not just be an add-on to the important work values of PR, but should be seen as a necessity that can drive innovation and provide creativity to the profession. Diversity allows for a better place to work, increases opportunities for all employees, and improves employee morale. It also allows for all individual differences – race/ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. – as well as diverse skill sets, mindsets, and cultures to be counted at all levels of the Public Relations profession. Lastly, it allows for PR to show that it’s not “scared” of diversity, but actually encourages and understands the imperative for it.
Inclusiveness, on the other hand, encourages an environment that welcomes all people. Inclusion can only occur when there is a progressive understanding of diversity. To be included means to include ‘all’ people of ‘all’ backgrounds in the workplace no matter the circumstances of that individual. All voices need to be respected, heard, and incorporated – with a genuine respect for differences. The PR profession grows when everyone is and feels included in the workplace, which makes it important to be cognizant of the way you feel when working. If you don’t feel included, talk to someone so that they can understand the standard of being inclusive and how when everyone is included and counted for, the work environment enhances to long-term success.
In a recent speech that I read, given by Mike Fernandez at a Public Relations PRSA conference, he discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion in PR and how it must advance in becoming more inclusive and diverse. He stated that assumptions are made when people don’t see someone that quite looks like them in a leadership position, they assume that “while they have a job today, they may never have a shot at the corner office tomorrow.” Therefore, change needs to happen. More diverse candidates should be hired and counted in the workplace as important. They should be seen in leadership roles as well and not just ‘behind the scenes’ in the PR profession.
By: Amanda Byrne
Most successful workplaces have strong willed and determined people who act as leaders and help to guide and empower other employees. Workplace leaders often have particular qualities that inspire their co-workers to work hard and help the company prosper. Here are a few of these characteristics:
An Effective Public Speaker
In public relations and many other communications occupations, public speaking is crucial. In order to be a leader, you need to be able to thoroughly communicate with those around you, your coworkers, the public and outside organizations.
Leads with Confidence
To lead a group of people, it is a necessity to be confident in yourself and who you are working with. This will help gain respect from your coworkers and motivate them to have as much confidence as you do.
Adapts Well to Change
A leader needs to be able to adapt quickly. If a curve ball is thrown and something goes wrong, a leader needs to be on his or her feet and think of a solution and keep everyone else on track. It is easy to freak out when something goes wrong, but a leader stays calm and thinks of another way to complete the task.
Directs and Delegates
A leader also needs to be able to delegate. Assigning roles effectively to others in is extremely important; a leader needs to be able to chose who would do each task to its fullest potential. Delegation also helps the person in charge have more time to focus on other issues that may arise.
Leaders should ‘lead by example’ and demonstrate proper work ethics. Maintaining integrity will help to build trust with the people around them as well as encourage others to worth with similar honest values.
By: Olivia Schlesinger
Trust, a word that is easy to define, but something so difficult to earn. Especially in our current media climate, trust does not come around often, and when it does, individuals and organizations must grab it while they can. Not only should they grab it, but they should understand the crucial implications of it and use it to its full potential.
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, “In this environment, media has become the least-trusted institution for the first time in Trust Barometer history – yet, at the same time, the credibility of journalists rose substantially.” This is unprecedented. The public eye is becoming more and more skeptical of media organizations, and rightfully so, with the exponential growth of “fake news.” Due to this information, consumers want to know where their information is coming from and if that source is reputable.
Furthermore, how do organizations work to combat this phenomenon and regain the public’s trust? The answer may lie within another word that is easy to define but very difficult to implement – transparency.
Almost everything in today’s media world can relate back to being transparent. Dealing with a crisis? Be transparent. Implementing new programming? Be transparent. Rebranding a company image? Be transparent. Being open and honest with the public is key to establishing credibility.
As a result, organizations are becoming increasingly less in control of their own messages. They can disseminate all the messages they want, but in order for these messages to stick and make a difference, the organizations must earn the approval and support of the public.
Going back to the quote from Edelman, journalists are gaining credibility. This may seem surprising at first, but it actually makes sense. Journalists have the unique ability to be portrayed as both an individual with individual views and as an employee of an organization. In this sense, they do not always have to be tied to larger organizations who may have other imposing views, thus, giving them more opportunity to be trusted.
Along with this, the media industry is seeing a rise in micro-influencers as well. Although micro-influencers may have less of a following than other figures in terms of sheer numbers, they have a tendency to establish deeper and more meaningful relationships with their followers. These followers develop a sense of trust in the influencers, which is why it is beneficial for organizations to take advantage of this trend and build rapports with related micro-influencers.
What does this mean for us as PR practitioners? We must face this challenge head on. Roll with the punches, but never lose sight of our main goals and the goals of our clients. The public relations industry, and the communications industry as a whole, is constantly changing. Information is being sent and received constantly, negating the traditional news cycle, and we must be ready for this.
PR practitioners must be prepared at all times and flexible in the ever-changing field. With so much information floating around, it is crucial for us to sort through the clutter and give our audiences exactly what they are looking for, in a manner that establishes a deeper connection and mutual trust with them. This may be easier said than done, but acknowledging the trends is the first step to using them and taking full advantage of their potential rewards.