Introducing PRSA Pittsburgh’s Black Excellence Award

By Morgan McCoy and Alex Oltmanns
PRSA Pittsburgh Renaissance Award Co-Chairs

There will be plenty of changes to this year’s Renaissance Awards. From a virtual format to a new means of entry, the 2021 event is set to be one unlike any other that PRSA Pittsburgh has ever hosted.

But one of the changes we’re most excited about is the introduction of the PRSA Pittsburgh Black Excellence Award. Through this award, we aim to recognize Black men and women for outstanding academic achievement, commitment to the practice of public relations and commitment to the city of Pittsburgh.

Sponsored by Burson Cohn & Wolfe, the award will grant $2,000 to one new graduate who is of African-American/Black ancestry and working in the PR, marketing or communications field in the region. All applicants must have graduated from an accredited four-year college or university located in the U.S. in the last three years and accepted a communications/PR/marketing position in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Why the Award Was Developed

But before we outline how to enter, it’s important to discuss the inspiration behind PRSA Pittsburgh’s newest award. 

Many studies indicate that the industry still struggles to attract young Black professionals to public relations careers, and PRSA Pittsburgh has had its own struggles attracting, retaining and developing Black PR leaders. Our membership is only 2% Black. Over the last five years, our Board has only had three Black members. 

We need to do more to show talented Black communications, public relations and marketing students there is a home for them here in the Pittsburgh PR community. We need to show them we see, hear and need them and do more to identify, hire and develop these future leaders.

How to Apply

PRSA Pittsburgh has developed the following application that all potential applicants must complete and submit before the December 11 deadline.

  • A completed entry form.
  • A typed, one-page letter of recommendation from a PRSA member or an individual associated with the communications profession (corporate, agency, government, higher education or nonprofit).
  • A 500-word personal essay or a video on why diversity matters to the public relations industry and the significance of having a diverse workforce in the public relations industry.
  • In addition, please provide an answer to at least one of these topics below:
    • What is the role of communications professionals in helping companies and the city do better when it comes to racial equality?
    • What Black communications role models do you look up to in this industry and why?
    • What recent multicultural communication efforts have helped to bridge the gap between the community and your college/university or new place of employment?

PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee will serve as the review committee for this award.

Please make sure all materials are error-free and thoroughly proofread. All application materials must be submitted to renaissance@prsa-pgh.org by December 11. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

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