How to Walk the Walk at Off the Clock

By Nicole Tobias
Programming Co-Chair

 

Coming back out into the world after two years of taking a break from social events can be super exciting, but also nerve wracking. Maybe you’re worried that your all-star in-person networking skills you once possessed have either faded or are rusty. If you’re looking for some pointers on how to get back in the game, here’s how you can walk the walk at Off the Clock.

Update business cards

Chances are something about you has changed since the last time you used your business card. This could be working with a new company, changing your name, changing your job title and more. Update your business cards to reflect your current work status so everyone you hand one out to can properly connect with you afterwards.

Leave the bubble

This one’s especially for my fellow remote-working professionals! It’s definitely easy to settle into your current routine and maybe only get out once a week to go to the grocery store or Target. It’s not fun to go out of our comfort zone, but going beyond the bubble can create so many great new opportunities for you and take your career further.

Bring a friend/co-worker

Sometimes it feels good to know you have someone you’re comfortable with around you. We totally get that! Off the Clock is open to both PRSA members and individuals interested in the field. So, come one, come all! Not only will you have that sense of comfort, but you will both gain some great new connections through networking.

Don’t be afraid to connect

Coming back to in-person networking can feel weird, and maybe you’re like me and might over analyze every single thing you say or do in hopes that you’re presenting your best self and not coming off awkward. That may mean sticking to yourself or with who you’re comfortable with, but I encourage you to expand out and connect with a new person or two. We’re stronger professionals when we surround ourselves with others. We can share ideas, tips, stories, support and ultimately inspire one another. So don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to someone new.

Need some conversation starters?

Between personal and professional questions, there are lots of ways to break the ice with other attendees. Ask if they’ve been to Coop de Ville before (where we’ll be hosting our Off the Clock series), if they have any pets, or about a hobby they enjoy. Share where you’re employed, a career you’re interested or an exciting project you’re working on. Plus, any of the PRSA Board Members are happy to make an introduction.

Take networking next level

After the event, be sure to connect with people while your name/face are fresh in their mind. Add them on LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever social platform they’re most active. Share a personal message about what you enjoyed about the conversation.

Join us

Come walk the walk with me at Off the Clock on Thursday, March 31. Let PRSA Pittsburgh know you’ll attend by RSVPing at Eventbrite.

 

 

Freeze-frame: The Importance of the Black Narrative

by Charlene Payne
Diversity and Inclusion Chair

“When you picture Black people – what images initially come to mind? If you don’t see patriots, fathers, graduates, and business owners, perhaps you should check what’s in your frame”

Trabian Shorters

It was an honor to attend the 2022 MLK Keynote Address given by journalist Soledad O’Brien at Carnegie Mellon University. I welcomed the opportunity to see and listen to a woman of color who has excelled in her industry and was open to share her insights and experiences in front of and behind the camera. 

There was a point in her presentation where she defined a practice that has deliberately berated people of color, more specifically Black people. The practice is called framing the narrative or media framing and it has the ability to be a great disservice to the black and brown communities when used incorrectly. The International Center for Policy Advocacy says: 

“Frames are the stories we use to make sense of the complex world and through
socialization in our communities, they become part of our identity and ultimately
our “common sense”. This core attachment to these stories means that they can
be easily triggered by a single picture, a work or phrase, a metaphor or story
which lead us to our full story on the nature of the problem, who’s to blame
and the possible solutions.”

For example, you have two high school athletes that win college scholarships. One athlete is Black and the other is white. As media characterizes each scholarship recipient, the Black athlete is described as living in a neighborhood full of drug activity, having a single-parent home, on welfare BUT won the award. The white child is described as having a doctor and a lawyer as their parents, performs community service and is a hard worker AND won the award. 

We must ask ourselves, was the Black student’s parent a lawyer or doctor? Was it necessary to share how household bills were paid? Do we know whether or not the white student performed community service once and never went back to help communities? Were the white parents on their fourth or fifth marriage? All of these questions point to unnecessary information that stem from framing the narrative poorly.

Media framing is not suggesting the reporting of inaccurate information. It refers to bringing both parties into a positive or negative light. In our case, both athletes deserved a positive narrative frame – they won scholarships! Unbalanced narratives breed stereotypes that have the power to shape the minds of millions incorrectly.

Thank you, Soledad O’Brien, for shedding light on the importance of media framing. Being Black in America isn’t easy. We have to courageously fight for our truth. Yet we are thankful for additional champions like Ida B. Wells, Mary Ann Shadd, Carl Rowan, Lerone Bennett, Jr., Gwen Ifill, Ed Bradley, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, April Ryan, Clarence Page, Lester Holt, Deborah Roberts, Jonathan Capeheart, Tony Brown, Tamron Hall, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Gail King, Joy Reid, and Oprah Winfrey who fought and still fight for all of our stories.

Stay Tuned

PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Committee will be continuing the conversation with Fatou Barry of PR Girl Manifesto. She’s carrying the torch to make sure her community of over 40,000 PR professionals can use their ability to transform the industry and change the narrative, creating equitable and inclusive opportunities.

D&I Toolkit

PRSA Pittsburgh created a D&I Toolkit to assist local PR and communications professionals in developing relationships with diverse communities and committing to creating a future of equitable and inclusive opportunities for all in the region.

What stood out in the 2022 Super Bowl ad lineup? PRSA Pittsburgh board members weigh in

by Catherine Clements
Web Content Manager

 

Without Pittsburgh’s home team in Super Bowl LIV — many Steelers fans turned to the more entertaining part of the NFL’s Big Game: the commercials. 

With an average audience of about 100 million U.S., viewers, the Super Bowl is the biggest night of the year for advertisers. Marketers pay big bucks to attract new customers or enhance a brand’s image with a 30-second airtime slot totaling $6.5 million, according to CBS News. 

While the ads that ran during the Big Game didn’t attempt to address any larger cultural moments like the pandemic, inflation or ongoing NFL challenges, noted NPR, what did stand out was the brands’ dedication to the Gen X Super Bowl. The heartwarming and emotional ads took a back seat to nostalgia, humor and playfulness this year, marking a shift from the last few years. 

Celebrities were huge this year, especially those who resonate with the Gen X audience. Brands tried hard to piggyback on the audience’s connection to celebs like Morgan Freeman, Jeff Goldblum, The Rock, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Austin Powers, Dolly Parton, the Mannings, Andre 3000, Paul Rudd, Larry David, and Seth Rogen.  

“It’s like the planners took a photo of the halftime performers and pasted that into the ‘target audience’ part of their creative briefs,” said Steve Radick, PRSA Pittsburgh’s student liaison.

We asked board members of PRSA Pittsburgh which commercials they thought stood out from the rest, and there were some clear favorites:

Google Pixel 6: Lizzo in Real Tone

 “While I really enjoyed the Rocket Mortgage (Anna Kendrick and Cash Offer Carl were great) and the Lay’s bromance ad (very authentic relationship with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen), the best ads were the ones that did more than draft off a celebrity’s Q-score and instead addressed a real problem. That’s why my favorite ad was for the Google Pixel 6. It acknowledged a real problem that spoke directly to a specific target audience and demonstrated exactly how their product could help solve it. It was emotional, concise, and creative. A really well-done and strategic spot.”
— 
Steve Radick, student liaison 

“While it’s not always easy/may not always make sense for company’s to make their super bowl ads meaningful, Google does a great job here. Lizzo may still be featured in the ad, but it’s not all about her, and it focuses on real people and a real issue many of us probably never even thought about.”
— 
Nicole Tobias, programming co-chair 

Squarespace: Sally’s Seashells

“My favorite commercial was the ‘Sally’s Seashells’ spot from Squarespace. As a copywriter, I really enjoyed the alliteration in the spot and thought it was very creative and captivating writing. Visually, I loved the warm colors used throughout the spot and the attention to detail, like Sally’s seashell-covered laptop, hair pins and headphones. I also think that the tagline ‘Everything to shell/sell everything’ both effectively communicates Squarespace’s key message (its e-commerce services and website integrations) and playfully references the creative of the ad. Zendaya and André 3000 were both excellent in their roles as well! Overall, I think this spot does a great job selling Squarespace (and seashells) with beautiful visuals and amusing copy.”
— 
Kaidia Pickels, Renaissance co-chair

Chevrolet: New Generation

“Chevy’s Sopranos ad blew everything else out of the water for me. It not only hit on the features of the car (highway vs. city mileage, parking), but also it hit home on its tagline for a ‘New Generation.’ Any Sopranos fan is going to get pumped as soon as they hear that theme song, and that’s just what it did. Plus it evoked a nostalgia that was the overall theme of the night for the ads (and the halftime show). Plus in this instance, they didn’t do any teasers or previews, which made it all the more special. Chevy wins for me!”
— 
Deanna Tomaselli, young professionals chair

Salesforce: The New Frontier

“My favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the ‘New Frontier’ ad by Salesforce, featuring Matthew McConaughey as a hot-air balloon adventurer (referencing his role in ‘Interstellar’). I like how it throws shade at recent moon shots by Elon Musk and Richard Branson, without hitting the viewer over the head. At the same time, it has a call to action that asks people to ‘build more trust’ and ‘make more space for all of us’ — which not only keeps it meaningful, but also connects back to what Salesforce is as a product. I love McConaughey’s voiceover delivery, which is done in such a way that you almost forget that it rhymes, and the kitschy ’60s music (a favorite genre of mine) that keeps the mood light. All in all, it delivered a lot in a 60-second package: Successfully repping a product while delivering a timely, broad and actionable message.”
— 
Stacey Federoff, communications chair

Rocket Mortgage: Barbie Dream House

“With the hot-housing market right now, I thought Rocket Mortgage’s Barbie Dream House commercial was timely and relatable. Anyone shopping for their dream home can relate to the personas identified in the ad like ‘House Flipper Skipper’ or ‘Better Offer Betty.’ The spot was entertaining, nostalgic and informative on Rocket Mortgage’s product offerings. In my opinion, this was a well-done and memorable ad.”
— 
Catherine Clements, web content manager

At Home With: A Look Back on Discussions with the Region’s Top Communications Professionals

By Deanna Tomaselli and Catherine Clements
Young Professionals Co-Chairs

2021 continued to throw us twists as the pandemic continued, but that didn’t stop our Young Professionals Committee from providing valuable online content! Our “At Home With” series, hosted in our Young Professionals Facebook Group (of 300 members and growing!), took us on a journey all year, with interviews from some of the top communications professionals in the Pittsburgh region (and beyond). 

From how the American Red Cross grew their TikTok to nearly 800,000 followers – to how a young PR pro started her own agency – to how Sidney Crosby’s media relations representative handled his COVID-19 diagnosis – the interviews covered it all. Each discussion also provided insightful advice for those in the industry.

If you aren’t a member of our group already, join us and catch the replays at the links below.

  • Drew Benvie, CEO & Founder of global agency Battenhall
  • Chris Lovingood, Former anchor at WTAE-TV
  • Jennifer Ridgley, Vice President, Media Relations at Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Abby Pittinarro, Community Giving and Digital Marketing Manager, The Children’s Institute
  • Nicole Bruno, Founder and Director of PR & Social Media for boutique agency, Bruno PR & Social
  • Melissa Kelly, Strategic Media and Communications Planner at media and marketing agency, Hoffman Murtaugh
  • Jessica Buckholtz, Senior Creative Specialist, Social Engagement at American Red Cross
  • Josh Taylor, Sports Anchor and Reporter at KDKA-TV, Weekend Morning Sports Talk Radio Host at KDKA-FM, 93.7 “The Fan,” Play-by-Play Announcer and Color Analyst for Duquesne Men’s and Women’s Basketball on ESPN+ and for high school football on “The Pickle” 92.1 FM. 

The Skills Every New Graduate Should Have When They Are Applying for Jobs

By Deanna Tomaselli
Young Professionals Co-Chair

Recently, some of us on the PRSA Pittsburgh board spoke with Waynesburg University’s PRSSA chapter for an informal meet and greet. I am always so impressed with their chapter for being go-getters. Speaking of go-getting: one of the questions that came up was in regards to skills every new graduate should have when they are applying for jobs, so it inspired me to write a blog post on the topic (the skill I always stress is also included in this list). Here are the top skills every new grad should have working in the communications field.

1. Networking Prowess

My #1 tip for any student or young professional out of school is to be able to network well. Yes, a lot of people can network and be “one and done” in their approach, but it doesn’t stop with a coffee or Zoom meeting. Being able to not only network with someone but also keep in touch is key. Chances are when you first network with someone, they will not have a job for you. But maybe a few months later, a colleague of theirs emails them and asks if they know of anyone for a role they are hiring for. Who will they think of first? Not the person they had coffee with a year ago who they can’t remember their name. No, it’s the person who checks in periodically. It can be as simple as commenting on their LinkedIn post every now and then, or getting together quarterly. I wrote more about this here. 

2. Verbal and Oral Skills

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s essential to be able to communicate both on paper and in person (slash on video these days). Being extroverted and outgoing are great to be in PR – and a lot in this field are – but if you are not, that’s OK too. But you need to be able to pick up the phone and call someone, lead a call, present, etc. And when networking, being able to walk up to someone and say hello. It’s essential in this field. And being a good writer is always always always key. Practice makes perfect here.

3. Ability to Meet Deadlines

This one also seems like a no-brainer but I’ve seen far too many junior people just blatantly miss deadlines over the years. I get it – we are all going a mile a minute and busy with hundreds of tasks. Here’s where you can work on your time management skills to prioritize and get things done. And if you are having a hard time with this or know you cannot meet a deadline, speak with your supervisor about how to adjust things. I appreciate someone coming to me and talking this through instead of slopping something together last minute or not doing something at all. Don’t let your supervisor have to follow up with you all the time. Get in front of it. This skill goes a long way.

4. Accepting of Constructive Criticism

I remember my first review at the first ad agency where I worked. Someone called my writing “green” and I didn’t even know what green meant then! I had a lot to learn, but I was sad by the feedback. There were a few other things I was told early on that stuck with me, and I have to say it made me a better professional. It’s because the way this feedback was given to me was constructive and helpful. No one was out to get me in writing this. Rather, they wanted to help me succeed. Yes, there are going to be some jerks in your career that are NOT constructive and downright hurtful. Ignore them and focus on the things you can actually work on to help you grow.

What else should be on the list of skills every new graduate should have when they are applying for jobs?

This post originally appeared here on Deanna’s blog, PRetty in Pittsburgh, which she started in 2009 as a place to share career tips and industry insights, as well as bits and pieces of life at home and fun in the ‘burgh.

Sabrina Saunders-Mosby of Vibrant Pittsburgh on Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

by Kaidia Pickels
D&I Committee Member

 

As a native of Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, Sabrina Saunders-Mosby has spent the better part of her career helping others cross them.

She is the president and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, a nonprofit membership organization with the goal of attracting, retaining, and elevating a diversity of talent to boost the economic vitality of the Pittsburgh region. Saunders-Mosby’s’ personal goal is to make Pittsburgh a destination of choice for people of all backgrounds, and especially people of color.

“The champions in my life didn’t always look like me, and for the most part didn’t,” she observed. “Vibrant Pittsburgh is the third organization that I’ve led, and regardless of the champions and mentors I’ve had in my life, I’ve often been the only black woman in leadership teams.”

Part of Saunders-Mosby’s role is to act as an inclusion partner for Vibrant Pittsburgh’s member corporations and to showcase the talents and opinions of people from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities. In her role, she encourages member corporations to celebrate the seen and unseen achievements of diverse employees and works to recommend them for job opportunities, promotions, and board positions.

Vibrant Pittsburgh offers an extensive range of products, services, and resources for member corporations that aid them in enhancing their diversity of talent, including:

  • Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Forum: A convening of D&I advocates and senior leaders from a range of industries around the region that offers a sense of place and space for the sharing of best practices, collaboration, and support in D&I work.
  • Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) Council: A collective of employee business resource group leaders from a range of industries that supports organizations with affinity groups in all stages of their diversity journey
  • Allegheny Allies: Launching soon, this group will function as Vibrant Pittsburgh’s own EBRG and also serves as a regional EBRG for small- and medium-sized companies that may not have the workforce size to dive deep into D&I work on their own.
  • Next Generation Council: A space for young leaders and up-and-coming organizations to talk about how to attract and retain diverse talent in the region.
  • Mentorship program: Vibrant Pittsburgh works to connect members with students from several local colleges who would benefit from mentorship in a wide range of industries or general professional development.
  • Social activities: Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Newcomer events and Dine-Arounds bring together new and established executives from across the region for fun events and networking opportunities.

Noting that Pittsburgh in particular is one of the least diverse metropolitan areas in the US, Saunders-Mosby spoke on how our communities can help amplify diversity efforts. One way is to invest in a regional D&I strategy such as the Vibrant Index Report, which reviews current D&I efforts, identifies opportunities for greater impact, and shares what is already working with a larger audience.

“We measure what matters, and what matters gets done,” said Saunders-Mosby.

Already in its second year, the Vibrant Index Report this year called for a continued and renewed commitment to data gathering efforts. Its diagnostic tool is available to any regional business that wants to participate and is free, confidential, and results in a report that is provided back to the organization. This year’s report had nearly double the questions, and organizational participation increased by 56% from last year.

Saunders-Mosby also took questions from PRSA members that related to support diversity in the workplace. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Companies can show allyship in a number of ways. While representation does matter, short-term and surface-level actions can come off as performative. Where things need to start is having genuine, authentic reflection on your company’s commitment to diverse talent — and ask plenty of questions.
  • Companies looking to better support diverse employees, especially those with different faith traditions, should ask themselves if they are offering flexible time to their workers to allow them to observe holidays that are important to them, and also make efforts to educate other employees on how everyone can be more inclusive.
  • More junior-level professionals may find it challenging to hold their seniors accountable to D&I practices. However, it’s powerful to ask questions and inquire whenever you can (in interviews, strategy conversations, and even performance evaluations) to check in on how your company’s commitments are going.

Lastly, Saunders-Mosby offered some tips specific to PR professionals for better engaging with diversity and inclusion:

  • Relationships matter. Make genuine connections and continue to nurture them in order to build a bigger, more diverse network for yourself and those around you.
  • Diversify your own network. Look around and ask yourself, “How diverse is it?”
  • Educate yourself through discussions, research, and webinars (perhaps even like this one!)
  • Ask yourself, “Is there a significant area of sameness that I gravitate to?” Then, challenge this.
  • Surround yourself with different professionals from whom you can learn and who you can support and uplight in their professional journeys.

Interested in learning more? Visit http://vibrantpittsburgh.org/ to learn how you or your organization can get involved.

The Importance of Recruiting and Retaining Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities

By Charlene Payne
D&I Committee Member

This blog is part of an ongoing series that highlights content featured in PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit.

 

“Kick this one here for me and my DJ” are the lyrics to the throwback I’m listening to, reminding me of how bitter-sweet this time of year is as students go back to school. Echoes of footsteps going up and down the stairs as the little ones get ready for school, students catching up with one another at the bus stop, and the school bus door loudly squeaking as it opens and closes.

I took part in a new experience this yearsending my first child off to college. I wasn’t ready for the departure but I was thoroughly excited about the new experiences headed his way. I felt a dash of stress while meeting staff members, locating different departments across campus, and mentally moving him into the dorm room within a short window of time. When I turned the handle to the dorm room, I entered into a new phase in my life. I was now meeting like-minded young people who were serious about starting their futures. 

My son doesn’t attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), although I wanted him to have a similar collegiate experience as I had at Florida A&M University, striving towards excellence while further developing himself as a young Black man. It just wasn’t in the cards this time, but as Whitley Gilbert from the show A Different World said, “Baby, you can go to school any place. But no school will love ya and teach ya to love yourself like Hillman (University).” I feel this to my core, and encourage anyone who can to attend a HBCU to do so and explore the unique benefits of what they offer.

HBCUs are Untapped Pools of Talent

HBCUs were established to offer Black students the opportunity for higher education during a time when it was prohibited to educate them. The Office of Civil Rights says these institutions are a “…vital part of American higher education”. The United Negro College Fund highlights their total economic impact of $206 million, production of 1,660 jobs a year, and lifetime earnings of $1.6 billion.

The United States comprises 107 colleges (with more than 228,000 enrolled students) that are identified by the United States Department of Education as Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Though HBCUs make up only 3% of America’s colleges and universities, they produce almost 20% of all Black college graduates with a bachelor’s degree. Yet, companies are not recruiting HBCU students at the same rate as students who attend predominantly white institutions, or PWIs. 

According to Golin, a global public relations agency located in Chicago, Illinois that specializes in DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) strategy, “though the Bureau of Labor Statistics has no formal data on companies who hire or do not hire HBCU graduates, anecdotal reports suggest that HBCUs are untapped pools of talent. Moreover, diversity data reveals that PR agencies’ talent acquisition teams are not actively recruiting from these institutions in a manner consistent with PWIs.”

Additionally, Golin reports that, “despite corporate attempts to overlook and discredit the academic integrity of HBCUs, one Gallup poll revealed that HBCU graduates have the highest rate of financial, career and emotional well-being of college graduates.”

How PR Agencies Can Support HBCU Students

Help to diversify the industry by supporting minority candidates who aspire to a career in PR by helping them develop industry familiarity and knowledge, relevant skills and a network of professional contacts. PR agencies can:

  • Be generous in offering internship and/or mentorship opportunities. Even though your business or organization may not have a formal paid or unpaid internship program, be creative about offering exposure to a professional work environment.
  • Have agency, corporate and other speakers come to campuses to help with LinkedIn profiles, professional social media presence and resume writing and interviewing. 
  • Set aside a fundraising event to support students with scholarships.
  • Partner with students or student groups to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives locally, or to implement a new program or project for the community.

Learn More about HBCUs in Pennsylvania & Notable Graduates

In Pennsylvania, there are two HBCUs: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (formerly known as Cheyney State College and the nation’s oldest HBCU) and Lincoln University.

Some famous and notable HBCU graduates include:

  • Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune Cookman College, educator, philanthropist
  • Patricia Harris, former Secretary, U.S. Departments of Health, Education, and Welfare and Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Christa McAuliffe, first educator in space
  • Leontyne Price, world-recognized soprano opera singer
  • Kenneth B. Clark, psychologist
  • Charles Drew, surgeon and medical researcher
  • W.E.B. DuBois, co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), author, writer, educator, sociologist
  • Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, Past President of Florida A&M University, Past President of Tennessee State University, “Entrepreneur of Black Excellence in Higher Education”
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize recipient; civil rights activist
  • Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice; lawyer, civil rights activist
  • Louis Sullivan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Learn More & Take the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Pledge

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages its members to access its Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for more information on ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Additionally, PRSA Pittsburgh’s D&I Committee is proud to present our D&I pledge to PRSA members. The intent of the pledge is to advance diversity and inclusion in the communications and PR profession. After taking the pledge, we hope employers spark hard conversations in their workplaces and begin to build a more diverse and inclusive environment, ultimately earning deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages PRSA members to virtually sign and commit to our D&I pledge. We also encourage members to print out and share the pledge (PDF) with their colleagues and peers who may not have access to technology.

Shining a Spotlight on Diverse Groups and Individuals During National Heritage Months

By Bre Zboran
D&I Committee Member

 

This blog is part of an ongoing series that highlights content featured in PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit.

Throughout the year, national heritage months celebrate people from a variety of ethnicities, backgrounds and marginalized groups—providing critical education on their history and cultures as well as a platform to amplify their voices and experiences.

As PR professionals, we can use the power of communication to champion D&I during these key months of recognition—and beyond. Many brands and organizations leverage social media, internal communications, marketing and other forms of communication to highlight employees, customers and stakeholders who identify with a particular group. While this is also an opportunity for a company to showcase how it supports and uplifts these diverse individuals, it’s important that these actions are not done simply to check a box during a heritage month, but rather are authentic and occur year-round.

We hope that the below list of heritage months is a helpful resource for your D&I efforts.

Black History Month

February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African diaspora.

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. Started in 1987, Women’s History Month recognizes all women for their valuable contributions to history and society.

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which was established to increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

National Deaf History Month

National Deaf History Month begins on March 13 and runs through April 15. It is a celebration of contributions of the hard-of-hearing and the Deaf community to American society. It’s a great time to recognize Deaf champions and increase awareness of the Deaf community’s rich history.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese immigrants.

LGBTQ Pride Month 

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on the world. LGBT groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. The last Sunday in June is Gay Pride Day.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.

Global Diversity Awareness Month

October brings Global Diversity Awareness Month to remind us of the positive impact a diverse workforce of men and women can have on a society.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month was declared in 1988 by the United States Congress for the month of October to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans.

Learn More & Take the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Pledge

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages its members to access its Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for more information on ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Additionally, PRSA Pittsburgh’s D&I Committee is proud to present our D&I pledge to PRSA members. The intent of the pledge is to advance diversity and inclusion in the communications and PR profession. After taking the pledge, we hope employers spark hard conversations in their workplaces and begin to build a more diverse and inclusive environment, ultimately earning deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages PRSA members to virtually sign and commit to our D&I pledge. We also encourage members to print out and share the pledge (PDF) with their colleagues and peers who may not have access to technology.

In Defense of Truth: Public relations professionals must lead by example when it comes to mis- and disinformation

By Bob Oltmanns, APR
Former PRSA Pittsburgh president

 

It was probably Winston Churchill who said, “a lie will travel around the world and back again before the truth can put its pants on.”  

And remember that Churchill died long before cable TV and the internet, which means that in 2021, things are much, much worse.

Whether fueled by misinformation — defined as false, inaccurate, or misleading information communicated regardless of an intention to deceive — or disinformation, which is deliberate deception, the use of either type of communication to gain an advantage are not new ideas. In “The Art of War,” written in the fifth century B.C., Chinese general Sun Tzu noted that “all warfare is based on deception.” And today, America is painfully divided to a degree not seen since the Civil War, caused in part by inaccurate information.

And let’s be clear — this divisiveness is not about who is on the right side of the facts. It’s about the blurring of the lines between opinion and fact. There are plenty of causes for this.

One is the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which lifted the requirement that holders of broadcast licenses present controversial issues of public importance with balance and honesty.

Another is the rise and ubiquitous presence of social media in virtually every aspect of American life. In the 1960s and ‘70s, there were only three television networks, and CBS veteran anchor Walter Cronkite was voted the “most trusted man in America.” A former wartime correspondent and UPI reporter, Cronkite was obsessed with accuracy and detail. Sadly, accuracy has been gradually eroding under the pressure of ratings, clicks and analytics.

Now, a Pew Research Center study finds that over half of Americans look to social media to get their news, most frequently on Facebook, which makes inadequate provisions for editing, fact-checking, or even, in many instances, truth or accuracy.

So this is where we are now.

The RAND Corporation has been examining the systemic causes and effects of mis/disinformation in American society. In its 2018 report, “Truth Decay,” RAND points to four trends that have led to the deterioration of accuracy and balance in the dissemination of information:

  • Increasing disagreement about facts
  • Blurring of the line between opinion and fact
  • The increasing volume and influence of opinion over fact
  • Declining trust in formerly respected sources of facts

Regardless of where you fall on the political or ideological spectrum, it’s hard to argue with RAND’s analysis. Perhaps even more troubling, however, is the realization that these trends have entrenched themselves in democratic societies, not just in the U.S. but around the world wherever free speech and a plurality of ideas is essential. Much like cancer infects our vital organs, misinformation thrives where free speech is inviolate.

But here’s where this comes back to us in the PR profession. 

While there’s not much consensus around potential solutions to the problem of systemic mis/disinformation, the RAND study offers two strategies that point to our role in all this:

  • Pursue changes in the way information is disseminated, including journalism that better separates fact and opinion and facilitates more accessible science communication.
  • Identify tools and governance mechanisms to address the spread of online disinformation.

Insofar as the public relations profession works extensively with both journalists and social media, we have a vital role to play in combating mis- and disinformation.

PRSA’s “Voices4Everyone” campaign is our profession’s first step in that direction. In our capacity as advocates that serve the public interest with honesty and the highest standards of accuracy and truth, we need to be more than passive supporters of these values. Our obligation to be fanatics for truth and  accuracy in our roles as advocates must now be a clarion call. 

It’s not enough — or even fair — to stand on the sidelines and demand that journalists and social media fight the uphill battle in the war against mis- and disinformation alone. Public relations professionals, after all, are the suppliers and brokers of content, ideas, messages and imagery that ultimately becomes the narrative behind the daily news and social media conversations of our time. 

Like it or not, this is our fight, too. We’re in this neck-deep, and if you’re still not convinced, think long and hard about how much inaccurate information is contained in press releases and social media campaigns every day. Intentional or well-meaning, it happens. But it can’t continue. Our profession, if it is to remain an essential business function and valued partner to the fourth estate, must look within itself to ensure that we don’t exacerbate the problem. Rather, we need to be part of the solution.

It’s our job — in whatever organization we represent — to “preserve the integrity of the process of communication … be honest and accurate in all communications … and correct erroneous communications” for which we are responsible. This is a time for us to step up to the PRSA Code of Ethics and lead by example.

Failure to seize this moment in history and help bring about meaningful progress in this struggle will assign the public relations profession to the role of an irrelevant by-stander when the First Amendment needed us most.

 

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Bob Oltmanns, APR, Fellow PRSA is the president of OPR Group. He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, the PRSA College of Fellows, the PRSA Counselor’s Academy, and is a member of the PRSA Pittsburgh Chapter Renaissance Hall of Fame. He also served as president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of PRSA in 1995.

Mr. Oltmanns is also a member of the PRSA “Voices4Everyone” initiative, which supports a national conversation to build mutual understanding, trust, and civic engagement through inclusive civil discourse. He is also a member of a regional study group on the Rand Corporation’s “Truth Decay” project, which is examining the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American life.

 

Best Practices for Sourcing Diverse Talent for Your Workplace

by Kaidia Pickels
D&I Committee Member

Editor’s Note: This blog is part of an ongoing series that highlights content featured in PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit.

 

Across the PR industry, companies large and small have committed to making their workplaces more diverse and inclusive and are actively taking steps to attract a diverse set of talent. Research has shown that diverse and inclusive workplaces lead to higher revenue growth, more readiness to innovate and even higher employee retention. Great Place to Work, an authority on inclusive workplace culture, has extolled the value of diversity and inclusion at work not just as a competitive business advantage but as a core tenet of maintaining a functional work environment.

How can I bring more diverse talent into my workplace?

A key fact of inclusivity in the workplace is that having a diverse and inclusive workplace leads to an increased ability to recruit a diverse talent pool. Essentially, the more diverse and inclusive your workplace becomes, the more attractive it is to other candidates from diverse backgrounds.

However, if your workplace currently lacks diversity, getting started can seem difficult. Investing in inclusivity and bringing diverse talent to your company offers significant long-term benefits, but what about the short term?

One way to get started is by using PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion toolkit, which is an invaluable resource for companies looking to recruit diverse talent. Inside you’ll find a comprehensive list of diverse employee groups and professional networks from across the region, many of which offer job listing services, corporate sponsorships and even direct networking with talent from diverse backgrounds.

What are some associations for diverse talent sourcing and recruiting?

Women in the Workplace:

Organizations like iRelaunch, a return-to-work association, Lean In and Corporate Women Directors International support women in the workplace by advising corporations on ways to support and uplift women – especially in positions of leadership. The American Business Women’s Association offers paid job postings and a network of working women and women business owners.

Industry-specific member groups like the Association for Women in Science, the Society of Women Engineers and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology offer additional support and advocacy for women in fields that are particularly lacking in gender diversity, such as science, technology and engineering. These organizations are great resources for creating corporate sponsorships and partnerships that lay the groundwork for gender diversity in STEM-related workplaces.

Talent from Minority Populations:

The Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) and the National Diversity Council (NDC) are coalitions of diversity-focused groups that offer opportunities for corporate partnerships with diversity councils and referrals for aspiring women and minority board members. The Association of ERGs and Councils also offers its members top-tier resources and training for developing and maintaining a diverse workplace.

INROADS, Inc. and The PhD Project are organizations that support students from diverse backgrounds in pursuing professional opportunities and advanced degrees, which helps to create a more diverse future workforce. Both organizations provide opportunities for career placements and job postings.

African-American/Black Talent:

The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and the Corporate Board Initiative (CBI) are two organizations that support Black executives and future leaders in the corporate world. Industry-specific organizations like the National Black MBA Association, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum also work to increase the representation of Black professionals in their chosen fields.

The Black EOE Journal and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) also support emerging Black professionals as jobseekers and students, investing in their career development and offering opportunities for networking at diversity-focused conferences across the country.

Hispanic/Latinx Talent:

The New America Alliance (NAA), the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute provide employers with opportunities to engage with and invest in developing future Latinx leaders in business, and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) represents nearly 50 million Hispanic professionals through its coalition of 14 member organizations that combine to create an unmatched national pool of Latinx talent.

Industry-specific groups like the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE), Prospanica, and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) support Latinx talent in their chosen fields, and student organizations like the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) offer corporations the opportunity to invest in and network with the next generation of Latinx professionals.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Talent:

The Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) and the National Association of Asian American Professionals are member organizations that both offer sponsorship opportunities for corporations and professional networking opportunities to connect with AAPI talent.

Asian Women in Business is a member organization that supports and offers visibility for Asian professional women and business leaders.

Native American Talent:

American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) supports and promotes the education and development of future Native American leaders in business, and the American Indian College Fund distributes scholarships to indigenous students pursuing higher education. Both organizations provide opportunities to invest in future Native American professionals for a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

LGBTQ+ Talent:

Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Pride at Work are member organizations that support LGBTQ+ professionals in the workplace and advocate for inclusive work environments and opportunities for LGBTQ+ talent. Out and Equal offers executive leadership development for LGBTQ+ talent and maintains LGBT Career Link, a database of LGBT jobseekers.

Certain groups like Reaching Out MBA, which empowers LGBT MBA students, and the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), which supports GLBT people employed in scientific or high technology fields, provide additional mentorship and sponsorship to talent in particularly underrepresented fields and can be a great way to network with LGBTQ+ candidates in those fields.

Individuals with Disabilities:

Career websites like Ability Jobs and Job Access and Disabled Person host job boards that companies can use to post job opportunities that welcome candidates with disabilities or to recruit disabled talent. Career and Job Resources for Disabilities American Job-Seekers also offers job listings for free.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides consulting services for employers that are looking for ways to accommodate and employ individuals with disabilities in the workplace as well as ADA compliance assistance.

Veterans:

Private-sector employers looking to hire career-ready veterans seeking jobs can work with Hero2Hire and RallyPoint to connect with candidates with military experience, and JOFDAV.com hosts a database of disabled veterans also looking for work.

Learn More & Take the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Pledge

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages its members to access its Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for more information on ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Additionally, PRSA Pittsburgh’s D&I Committee is proud to present our D&I pledge to PRSA members. The intent of the pledge is to advance diversity and inclusion in the communications and PR profession. After taking the pledge, we hope employers spark hard conversations in their workplaces and begin to build a more diverse and inclusive environment, ultimately earning deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.

PRSA Pittsburgh encourages PRSA members to virtually sign and commit to our D&I pledge. We also encourage members to print out and share the pledge (PDF) with their colleagues and peers who may not have access to technology. 

 

Communications and PR professionals of all identities and seniority levels are encouraged to inquire about joining our Diversity & Inclusion Committee at info@prsa-pgh.org.