Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Public Relations and Beyond

PPRA DEI Event

PHOTO: Queen Muse during PPRA’s DE&I webinar on June 30.

 

On Tuesday, June 30, David W. Brown, Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University, led a discussion with Queen Muse, Digital Contributor for Philadelphia Magazine, and Sabrina Ram, Founder and President of Blu Lotus, about the meaning of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DE&I) in the workplace.

The discussion builds on ongoing conversations around companies’ responsibility to be advocates for diverse communities. Queen and Sabrina emphasized the undeniable value of diversity and offered the following actionable tips to help PR professionals integrate DE&I into their lives, corporate culture, and counsel.

Be authentic and actionable, not performative.

When crafting statements, leaders should strive for authenticity by speaking about what they know to avoid hollow messaging. The statement should be transparent, noting any past missteps or shortcomings the company may have had—even if they make them look bad—as reflecting on the past is necessary to mapping out the path forward. Calling out injustice or inequity should become second nature for companies that are truly looking to evolve.

Educate yourself.

It’s impossible for white individuals to truly understand what people of color have withstood, but it is possible for them to educate themselves on their plights, interests, opinions, and more by reading their stories, listening to Ted Talks, and studying history. Queen stressed that education is key to understanding diversity, and it will inherently guide authentic messaging.

Make sacrifices to make room.

Organizations must invite diverse talent into the room and offer them a seat at the executives’ table. Majority leaders should willingly step aside and invite a person of color to fill their position to broaden the company’s perspective and deliver impactful messages to their diverse audiences—especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia. Hiring managers should look outside of their immediate circle by consulting organizations that cultivate pools of brilliant, diverse talent, and those without hiring power should be willing to speak up and ask what the company is doing to increase diversity.                                

Amplify diverse voices.

Hiring people of color to positions of power fosters diversity, but diversity is not enough. They should be empowered to speak and drive decision making so that their voices, perspectives, and creativity can be heard and can trickle down throughout the company. Sabrina noted that to keep the momentum going, we should highlight companies that are doing DE&I right so that others can learn from them.

Hold yourself accountable.

The conversation surrounding DE&I has been bubbling to the surface for decades, but 2020 is the time for change. Ambiguous statements are no longer acceptable. All of us need to set goals to foster DE&I however we are able, and we need to hold ourselves, and our companies, accountable by pairing each goal with a deadline, routinely evaluating progress, and seeing each goal to the finish line.

Look out for more PPRA programming around these important issues as the discussion continues to evolve, because this is not the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of long-lasting change.

-By PPRA member Jamie Shore

#PPRAMemberMonday – Brianna M. Taylor

Brianna M. Taylor

Brianna M. Taylor is the Director of Public Relations for Garfield Group. She has been a member of PPRA since 2013.

Twitter: @garfieldgroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GarfieldGroup/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/garfield-group

Brianna M. Taylor leads the public relations practice at Garfield Group, an integrated marketing and communications agency in Old City. Prior to Garfield Group, she spent five years at Devine + Partners.

Brianna has significant experience developing and executing public relations campaigns on behalf of clients, but her real passion is in understanding clients’ businesses and goals, and developing effective strategies to help them achieve those objectives. 

During her career, Brianna has worked on campaigns for financial service firms, emerging technology companies, and some of Philadelphia’s most well-known cultural sites. Brianna received an M.B.A. in strategic management from Villanova University and a B.A. in political science from Haverford College.

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what are you working on right now?

BT: Most of our clients are B2B brands with a focus in technology. 

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

BT: Working with clients across industries and providing insights and strategies that move them closer to their goals. From finding a compelling media hook to developing a spark of an idea into a strategy – it’s a beautiful process! 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

BT: Pick up the phone! Relationships aren’t built over email.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

BT: Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

BT: Fairmount Park – There is so much green space to explore.

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

BT: Ramen from Neighborhood Ramen. It’s the perfect combination – great food, low-key, good people.

#PPRAMemberMonday – Natalie Lewis

#PPRAMember Monday_Lewis
Natalie Lewis is the
Communications Manager for The Philadelphia Orchestra. She has been a member of PPRA for one year.

Twitter: @nataliefizbo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.f.lewis.5/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/natalie-lewis💡-46638887

The greatest campaign of my life was my career pivot. After seven years as a professional French horn player with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, I moved back to the United States to see what else life had in store. Leaning into my musical background, I began my second career as a publicity assistant for a record label and distributor in Nashville, TN. After six months in press, I transitioned into the digital space managing the label’s in-house classical playlist brand, working closely with Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and other streaming platforms, brand management, and all aspects of digital marketing. When The Philadelphia Orchestra had an opening for a communications manager, I was able to leverage my in-depth knowledge of classical music with my newly minted press and marketing skills.

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what are you working on right now?

NL: As communications manager for The Philadelphia Orchestra, I am responsible for implementing communications strategies internally and externally as well managing the Orchestra’s social media profiles and presence. We are currently working on finding new ways to reach our patrons as the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking this time as an opportunity to reach a broader, global audience as we expand our Virtual Philadelphia Orchestra offerings. Social media has become more important than ever before as we continue to inform our patrons and communicate new offerings in the digital space.

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

NL: Creative strategy and implementation. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say the music! 

PPRA: What was your latest & greatest accomplishment at your job?

NL: I ran a Mean Girls campaign for the Orchestra’s Free College Concert, which was on October 3rd. So fetch, right?  

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

NL: Don’t be afraid to try something new! There’s no such thing as a failed campaign. You either win or you learn.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

NL: Waiting for Guffman is my favorite movie of all time. It never gets old and I discover some new subtlety or nuance every time. I mostly read nonfiction, and for those I would have to recommend Carol Dweck’s Mindset and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. You can always find me thumbing through a Lonely Planet, dreaming about my next big trip!

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

NL: Spruce Street Harbor Park, Race Street Pier, and along the Delaware Riverfront.

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

NL: I spend a lot of time researching and implementing all things related to health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition, so I would have to say that I would probably be a functional medicine practitioner, health coach, or physical therapist. I strongly believe that food can be used as medicine, and on that note, I would love to lobby against the big food companies to overhaul our healthcare system and approach to nutrition!

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

NL: La Colombe’s Black & Oat, or a classic hot fudge sundae from Franklin Fountain. Their hot fudge is the BEST.

Video from Home: Top Videography Tips from a Pro

On Thursday, May 28, PPRA members were treated to a master class on videography.   Ricky Haldis founded Wise Owl Multimedia, a photography and videography company, in 2015. A proud Philadelphia native and storyteller at heart, Ricky has worked with PPRA and many of its members to craft visuals that resonate. He graduated from Holy Family University in 2016 with a bachelor’s in Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia.

Haldis, a friend of PPRA, shared best practices designed to help clients look their best on camera and, most importantly, achieve their communication goals

Prepare people to be as simple as possible”

It all comes down to simplicity. A concept that should be quite familiar to public relations professionals who exist to help a client’s message shine through, not to show the world how many fancy words they know. Ricky believes the same is true when it comes to video. 

The fundamentals count”

Keeping three concepts front of mind will lead you to success: how the video is shot (pick a small, quiet room with a simple background), how the video is lit (soft light is preferred – avoid direct sunlight and backlighting), and how the video sounds (to achieve best sound quality use a lapel mic. Furniture, carpet, and wall coverings dampen sound to prevent echo). 

Video is entirely psychological”

All video producers are ultimately seeking the “the brain’s approval.” Planning carefully, ensuring the message is on brand and putting the end goal in writing helps the client win the ever-elusive audience “approval.”

Genuine, organic and natural”

Ricky ended the webinar by empowering attendees to create professional looking videos on their own. With a modest investment of time and money, quality videos that present our clients well and help connect with audiences are within reach.

– By PPRA member Jill Flanagan

Between You and MEdia… with Molly Given

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


Over the past three years, Molly Given has established herself as one of Philadelphia’s go-to voices in the media for events, entertainment news and beyond. As a Features Editor for Metro Philadelphia Newspaper, Molly’s life-long passion for writing and meeting new people shines through in her content. Learn more about the person behind the page and discover how best to share your news with Molly in this edited interview by PPRA member Kellsey Turner. Photo courtesy of Molly Given.

What’s your favorite story that you’ve worked on?
That’s a tough question! I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I have ones that stand out. I did a story for the Penn Museum for their Global Guides program recently. The program featured in-depth tours of the recently opened Africa, Mexico/Central America and re-vamped Middle East galleries led by immigrants and refugees from the respective areas. I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the guides and what they said was truly touching.

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What advice would you give PR professionals looking to pitch you?
I would say to be clear with what the pitch is about right up front. I will be more likely to write about a story if I have a clear picture of exactly what it is. It’s definitely great to be detailed, but after you give the essential information. Also pitches that have pictures, or that offer to have you come out to check out the facility or event really help paint a picture as well.

Who/what inspired you to pursue journalism and what keeps you inspired?
I really just love the idea of getting to interview people and finding out their thoughts/feelings/desires and fears even. Everyone has a story to tell, and I love being able to tell them. That’s what continues to motivate and inspire me with journalism.

Take us through your story process. What elements do you look for?
I look for stories that are unique, but also ones that are informative. I don’t exactly look for the ‘juiciest scoop,’ but I do want to be someone who can shine a light on interesting circumstances and people.

Where do you start?
I typically start out writing stories with the facts that I have and then dive deep and research more. If there is an opportunity to learn more about a particular subject through interviews or seeing something first-hand as well, I’ll definitely jump on that opportunity.

How do you work with PR professionals?
I work with PR professionals mainly over email, but if I have developed a working relationship with them then we connect over the phone typically as well. But it’s always fun to meet in person too and get to know the PR professional behind the email.

How many pitches do you get a day from PR folks?
It ranges, but can be anywhere from 20-30. Sometimes more.

How much follow up is too much on a pitch—with someone you don’t have a relationship with, and someone you do?
With someone I don’t have a relationship with, I would say one more follow-up. Personally speaking, if I’m not hooked to the story after one follow-up, I don’t think I will be at that point, unless something changes. That actually is the same for someone I do have a relationship with as well.

How do you prefer to be pitched? What is the best way to make a pitch stand out?
Emails work. Also, I’m really just looking for an interesting story; so, if there is something interesting about whatever you are pitching, make sure to really sell that. Passion comes across on a page!

How do you step away from the 24-hour news cycle?
Typically, I do decompress for an hour or so after work. I put my phone down and just avoid technology. You need to step away. No one can be tuned in all the time; it’s good to take a break.

What’s a fun and interesting fact about yourself?
I grew up in Atlantic City and worked as a beach lifeguard for about ten years. That job was the second-best I’ve ever had, just behind this one.

What’s your favorite spot to think through a story?
In the sun—I love to be outside! The fresh air and Vitamin D always spark creativity for me.

The best way to pitch Molly is via email: molly.given@metro.us