The public relations industry, and PR agencies in particular, are not particularly diverse, as noted in this recent Harvard Business Review article. Because of this, African American PR pros face unique challenges in their careers. Earlier this year, some local pros in media, journalism and PR discussed the benefits of establishing a professional organization. Coming out of those conversations, the Greater Cincinnati Black PR Pros was launched. This group was created to unite black PR and communication professionals in the Greater Cincinnati area.
To learn more about this group, I sat down with its founders, Keeyana Avery (founder, Agency Seven PR), Danielle Jones (Assistant VP, Senior Manager, Public Relations and Jenifer Moore (Sr. Public Affairs Specialist, AAA Club Alliance), to get their perspectives on how they can help support and grow the local community of African American PR professionals.
What are the goals for the Greater Cincinnati Black PR Pros?
Jones: Our goals are multifaceted, but one of our primary areas of focus is to connect with one anotherand offer a safe space for African American PR professionalsto discuss their careers, their challenges and their successes. Through these connections we believe we’ll help each other grow and advance professionally.
Moore: When I moved back to Cincinnati, I didn’t know how many African American PR pros were here. This group allows us to share ideas, network and mentor one another. Our experiences are very different from the broader group of PR professionals, and we can learn from each other.
Are there some challenges the group hopes to address?
Avery: There are times when we walk into a boardroom or meet with a potential client and are dismissed because of our race. We hope that, together, we can help overcome some of those biases.
Jones: We plan to address some of the biases that we are faced with as practitioners of color. We also see our group as a place where we can advocate for one another and help navigate common issues we face. In addition to that, we want to tackle tough topics that are occurring in our industry that specifically affect us.
Moore: We’re also hoping to be a sounding board for the communication community to help vet messages that will be seen by diverse audiences. We’ve seen big national brands produce communications that were insensitive to African Americans and tarnished their reputations.
What activities do you have planned?
Moore: We recently held a happy hour to get to know each other, and it was incredibly successful with a great turnout. We plan to work with the PRSA to offer diversity programs, partner with local university PRSSA chapters and do other activities to help build awareness that there are PR professionals of color in the Greater Cincinnati region.
Avery: We all love PR. We’re interested in this industry and we want to share our passion to help the next generation of PR pros be successful.
Does it cost anything to join?
Jones: Our quarterly meetings are free and our networking events that we host with other local organizations are of minimum charge. We encourage members to get involved with PRSA and other organizations and events in the community.
Is the group supported by PRSA?
Jones: We are truly blessed, since we not only have the support of the local PRSA chapter, but we are also supported by the Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists. Naturally, having a connection with the reporters and producers we work with regularly is extremely helpful.
How can people get involved?
Email Gcbprpros@gmail.com to be added to our listserv and receive information on upcoming events.