Diversity in Public Relations

For the first time in history there we have a traditional minority candidate as the president of our country.  While many would assume that this would lead to increased diversity and greater acceptance of diversity in the cooperate world, this has not always been the case.

In an article for The Holmes Report, Lee Hayes wrote that the lack of diversity in the PR industry is a dirty little secret. He states, while the communication industry talks about becoming more diverse and is saying all the right things, that the industry hasn’t taken many steps to truly ensure an increase in diversity.  Hayes has spent 20 years in the communications industry and believes the only way that we will see change is that if the large brands will only agree to work with communication firms that demonstrate diversity as well as a dedication to promoting it.

According to the US Census bureau African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans will make up 36.5 percent of the US population and by 2020.  These groups will also account for $3.6 trillion in spending power.  Targeting diversity may be in the best interest of many brands because demonstrating diversity can result in more inclusive marketing to different cultures.

A study conducted in the Howard Journal of Communications, in 1995 examined diversity of the work force in Corporate America.    Although this study is dated, it estimated the diversity of corporate industries was at about 10%.  This total was based on of all companies’ surveyed.  In this specific survey, approximately 61 percent of the results were returned from PR companies.  It’s interesting to note that Lee Hayes who wrote the previously mentioned Holmes Report article entered the work force right around 1995, at the same time as the Howard Journal article.  Therefore, Hayes has experienced diversity in the PR industry and has indicated little change in his 20 years.

The future needs improvement on the diversity front.  Dr. Natalie Tindall, of Georgia State University, states that more work must be done to encourage, retain, and promote minorities in the field of Public Relations.  The mission of the industry has remained similar over the years but it is time to start seeing results so the industry grows and adapts with the constantly changing times in our country.


Coffee, P. (2013, November 18). Meet PR’s Diversity Problem. – PRNewser. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/meet-prs-diversity-problem_b77958

Diggs-Brown, B., & Zaharna, R. S. (1995). Ethnic diversity in the public relations industry. Howard Journal Of Communications6(1/2), 114-123.

Hayes, L. (2013, February 25). Lack Of Diversity Is PR Industry’s Dirty Little Secret. Lack Of Diversity Is PR Industry’s Dirty Little Secret. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.holmesreport.com/opinion-info/13071/Lack-Of-Diversity-Is-PR-Industrys-Dirty-Little-Secret.aspx

Tindall, N. (2012, February 7). Diversity in the PR field: Some progress, though challenges persist. PR Daily News: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Diversity_in_the_PR_field_Some_progress_though_cha_10753.aspx


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