Members of the Temple University chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) are launching a campaign from February 11 to March 11 to educate both students and educators in the Klein College of Media and Communication about the unfulfilled diversity and inclusion opportunity in the PR field. Beginning in Black History Month, the campaign aims to connect diverse practitioners as mentors to students of color through several events, including a Diverse Voices Book Club. The initiative is led by the only Philadelphia team to be entered into PRSSA’s national Bateman Competition. The competition attracts colleges and universities from around the country who are assigned a common client against which they develop and present their best campaign ideas. This year, the client is the PRSA Foundation which provides scholarships and resources to aspiring professionals in order to increase diversity in communication workplaces across the United States.
The Diverse Voices Book Club is inspired by the book Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership which features the stories of 40 diverse public relations professionals who have overcome adversity throughout their careers. Diverse Voices is the handiwork of the PRSA Foundation. The program is funded by the donations of prominent Philadelphia PR professionals, offering students admission into the book club, a copy of Diverse Voices and a safe space to talk about their experiences while gaining insight from practitioners of color.
In addition to the book club and a robust social media presence, the campaign will include:
• Placing copies of Diverse Voices in Temple’s Paley Library, allowing all students to access the collection of stories regardless of financial barriers;
• Class presentations to students about the presence and influence of African American and Latinx professionals as “hidden figures” (many from Philadelphia) who have helped shape the public relations field;
• Presentations to faculty by Temple’s Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL) to better equip educators with the necessary tools to teach and talk about diversity
• A moderated discussion with Temple University’s Black Public Relations Society (TUBPRS) and Provost JoAnne A. Epps, the first African American woman to hold this position on Thursday, Feb. 21st;
• A tour of SEER Interactive, one of the largest agencies in the city headed by a person of color, with Temple PRSSA and TUBPRS on Tuesday, Feb. 26th.
The majority of PR practitioners have historically been white. By positioning the need for diversity and inclusion as an opportunity rather than a deficit, members of the Temple Bateman team hope to move beyond the conversation toward sustainable solutions. Though the campaign has a one month duration, its events have been designed to leave a long-lasting impact that will be felt for years, coinciding with the theme of #Not30But365. The goals of the Bateman competition align with Temple’s tradition of questioning the status quo. Though the program gives public relations students worthwhile campaign experience, the Bateman competition serves a much larger movement.
“Diversity and inclusion are not an HR initiative. It is what we have to do to keep this industry alive and thriving,” said PRSA Foundation President Judith Harrison who oversees diversity and inclusion efforts at Weber Shandwick. “We need to make sure we have the widest range of experiences and perspectives. This is everyone’s responsibility.” Through learning about the diversity and inclusion opportunity, students and educators can become advocates for a necessary and beneficial shift in the field.
Those interested can use #Not30But365 throughout the campaign on social media to engage and foster awareness about the PR diversity opportunity. Follow @TUBateman2019 on Instagram and Twitter and find other digital materials on the Temple Bateman team webpage. Copies of Diverse Voices can be purchased at the Diverse Leadership site by crediting “Temple University” under the Bateman Competition section at checkout. For more information, students and educators can contact Bateman team member Christina Borst at 484-678-3972 or TUBateman@gmail.com.