Monthly Archives: March 2014

Ethnic Diversity in PR.

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In 2011, the PRCA PR Census revealed that 92% of the industry was white, with only 8% of PR practitioners being from an ethnic background. Two years later in 2013, hardly any change had been made with 91% of PR practitioners being white and 1% of professionals in the PR industry each being black British and Asian. This is clearly not reflective of modern British society, where over 14% of the population are of BAME origin. With limited ethnic representation, this can only be detrimental to the PR industry as it won’t be as easy to engage the growing BAME community in campaigns.

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The first time I saw these statistics, I was shocked. Although I was aware of the PR industry being very competitive, I didn’t realise that the difficulty is enhanced for someone like myself. There are some reasons I have come to the conclusion of why this is. First, many ethnic minority parents particularly from West African and Asian backgrounds, are not aware of how lucrative a career in PR can be. In fact, most don’t understand what PR is. They expect their children to pursue more well known careers such as doctors, lawyers and engineers as those are the jobs that can bring respect to the family, household and community. Another reason is that a majority of internships are unpaid. It is huge shame as it restricts the majority of people coming into PR because they are unable to afford this luxury. In my personal experience, although I come from a background that is far from rich, I have been fortunate enough to have had some support from family. Also, in my unrelenting pursuit for a career in PR, I have willingly made major sacrifices and was prude enough with my finances to save enough money to support myself and take on unpaid internships for a limited time. Although, my situation seems drastic, there are people that don’t have others to support them so have to turn to other industries that will pay them.

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With 40% of the population in London alone being of an ethnic background, it is important for brands to understand their customers and client needs so they are able to determine key messages and communicate them to the relevant stakeholders effectively.   A workforce that represents this number helps resolve possible barriers that can occur when communicating to certain stakeholders.

Some schemes and programmes such as the Taylor Bennett Foundation, TFL’s BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) press office internship and the PRCA’S diversity group network are currently doing something to battle this problem. However, the PR industry needs to do more more in tackling this problem.

Writing styles in PR application forms

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ImageRecently, whilst applying for a popular PR graduate scheme, I came across the following question:

Please write a blog that delivers maximum impact on: “If you were leader of the Opposition how would you make the case to win the next election? (In no more than 200 words)

In all honesty, I had no idea how to answer. My initial reaction was to write a funny piece but I fretted over whether this would be appropriate for the culture and style of this particular PR company. I was not sure if they wanted a serious answer or they wanted my personal take on the question.  I even took the time to search through several blogs on the right ways to tackle this perceived problem, although they all gave me conflicting answers. After much research, reflection and thought, I decided to take a risk and write a totally unconventional and slightly weird answer. I wrote:

First, I would offer the masses free popcorn at anytime and anyplace during my tenure in power. According to a focus group consisting of two people (a very legible amount), popcorn is likely to be a deciding factor when swaying the public in an election. A last ditch effort, this would only occur after my political advisers and I have tried and tested every rational communication strategy possible. Through this action, I am showing the public that I’m fun, unique and likely to bring a different approach in government unlike my boring and less creative opponent.

If in the unlikely chance that ‘Operation Popcorn’ does not bode well with the people, then I will do what I think Gordon Brown should have done and study presentations and speeches led by great speakers such as Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. I would possibly hope that their charismatic aura robs off on me, so I can then sway the election to my favour with my newly acquired supercharged charm.

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 I know you must be thinking it’s strange, right?

 They did not ask the applicant to write a serious piece so I decided to take a chance. Although I can write in different tones and styles, this particular way of writing comes natural to me and I concluded that it’s probably a great way to showcase my personality to the employers.  In the PR industry, writing is deemed one of the most important skills needed and I resolved that as long as they can see that you’re a great writer and you’re not  using any obscene language, then you are within the means and rights to write in any style you like without it hindering your application progress.