Honoring Black PR History: A reflection on pioneers of the industry

As PRSA Pittsburgh celebrates Black History Month, we pause to reflect, examine and thank the PR pioneers who enabled today’s practitioners to excel in the industry.

by Taylor Fife, Diversity & Inclusion Chair


At least once in our careers, we’re asked why we decided to join the public relations and communications industry.

The answers given are often quite simple – “Because I love to solve problems,” “Because I’m a natural storyteller,” “Because I enjoy connecting with my community.”

But the answer I give is complex and deeply personal  – “Because of Bayard Rustin.”

As a Black woman in the industry, I stand on the shoulders of giants who’ve broken down barriers for people of color.

Every day as a digital marketer, I roll out of bed, log on to social media and I write freely, without fear. I write to influence others – something Black people, like Rustin, were once arrested, beaten or even killed for doing.

Black PR Industry Pioneers

The Black PR legends before me paved the way for professionals like me to enter and excel in the industry.

Not just this month, but every month, we must remember that the faces of PR include  ones of color.

We honor and thank the change agents of Black PR History for their contributions, because to them, we are forever indebted.

Here are only a few of many examples of Black PR pioneers:

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was a civil rights advocate, journalist, and feminist. Wells is notably praised for her social activism campaigns designed to promote women’s suffrage and the abolition of lynching.

Wells was also known as the, “Princess of the Press.” She crafted appeals to change public opinion in America and Europe. Her efforts resulted in support for her campaigns.

In 2020, Wells was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.”

Joseph Varney Baker

Joseph Varney Baker (1908-1993)  was once described as, “the dean of Negro public relations men.”

As the Museum of Public Relations reports, Baker was the city editor of the Philadelphia Tribune, a newspaper for African Americans that is still published today. After leaving this job, he provided public relations counsel for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1934, Baker became the first Black PR firm owner in the country. Subsequently, he became the first Black person in public relations to become known for acquiring significant accounts from large corporations in America.

Baker was also the first Black president of PRSA Philadelphia  and the first Black man to gain accreditation from PRSA.

Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker (1864-1934) is best known for becoming the first Black woman to charter and become a bank president in the country.

“Walker was said to have a genius for public relations, and used her skills and drive to help her community, rally support for her causes, and establish long-lasting, successful institutions,” according to the Museum of Public Relations.

Inez Kaiser

Inez Kaiser (1918-2016) forged her career while struggling for basic rights that were denied to Black people in the ‘60s.

She was the first Black woman to own a PR firm in the country. Kaiser was also the first Black woman to join PRSA and was active in her community and politics.

7-Up was one of Kaiser’s major accounts. She also founded Del Sprites, an organization that helped disadvantaged African-American junior and senior high school girls pursue higher education.

Patricia Tobin

Patricia Tobin (1943-2008) was viewed by many as a queen of PR, master of networking and a guru of event planning.

She began her career as a broadcaster and in the early 1980s, Tobin organized an event for a sportscaster. That was the beginning of weekly “media nights” or “journalist jams” she would host, where people would come to socialize and network.

Because there were few opportunities for people of color in her field, Tobin decided to start her own company. She left her broadcasting job and began Tobin and Associates in 1983.

Most notably, Tobin co-founded the National Black Public Relations Society and served as a dedicated activist for minorities, women and youth.

Moss Hyles Kendrix

Moss Hyles Kendrix (1917-1989) is best known for his work with the Coca-Cola company. His employment with Coca-Cola made him the first Black person to acquire a major national account.

Not only did Kendrix revolutionize how advertising in America portrayed Black people, he also pushed his clients to employ Black practitioners and established a professional group to support and encourage Black communication professionals.


PRSA Pittsburgh encourages members to learn about more Black PR pioneers from The Museum of Public Relations and notable Black innovators.

PRSA Pittsburgh also encourages members to view our resource list of Black-owned businesses, creatives and more to show continued support and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion during Black History Month and beyond.

Empowering Tomorrow’s PR Leaders

Not only has Black PR history shaped my career choice, but it also has propelled other Black women to make significant contributions to the industry and inspire generations to come.

In honor of Black History Month, PRSA Pittsburgh invites its members to a virtual discussion with Fatou Barry on Zoom from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15. Barry is a brand strategist and founder of the inclusive community of over 40,000 PR professionals, PR Girl Manifesto.

Community resources such as PR Girl Manifesto empower emerging and current PR pros to use their abilities to transform the industry, change the narrative and create a future of equitable and inclusive opportunities for all women.

Attendees will learn how to commit to D&I long-term, how a career in PR can be a vehicle for advocacy and tips to help women excel in the industry and generate opportunities in the workplace. 

We’ll also reflect on Black PR History with Fatou and learn more about the professionals in her life that have inspired her to serve as a pioneer for future leaders among women and women of color.

RSVP for this free, virtual event on Eventbrite.


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.

How to Become an Innovative B2B Marketer: Integrating Innovation Into Professional Development Plans

By Steve Radick
PRSA Pittsburgh Sponsorship Lead

[This post originally appeared on Marketing Profs.]

The pandemic has given B2B marketing leaders a golden opportunity to rethink the culture of their marketing teams. Rather than worrying about how to recover, B2B marketers should be thinking about how to get stronger.

Culture change takes time, but one of the best ways to start is by integrating new steps into your employees’ professional development plans. After all, you are what you measure: Campbell’s Law posits that if a raise or corresponding value judgement is solely dependent on meeting a sales quota, employees will sacrifice their other job responsibilities—team management, skill development, and so on—to meet that quota.

If you integrate innovation into development plans, and subsequently into employees’ annual reviews, you can start holding them (and yourself) accountable for the changes you want to make. The metrics that make a successful employee must start including behaviors you want to see; otherwise, your teams will treat culture change as “nice to have” instead of a necessary focus.

That said, telling your employees to “be more innovative” or “take more risks in your work” isn’t helpful. Instead, create professional development goals that are specific, attainable, and measurable, and then provide detailed recommendations that are time-bound and actionable.

Use the pandemic as an opportunity to assess your professional development plans, for both yourself and your teams. Start with these questions:

  • Do you have a development plan? Do your employees? When was it last updated?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your career goals? This year? Over the next 3-5 years?
  • What do you need to accomplish those goals? From yourself? From your team? From your boss? From the organization?
  • When was the last time you spoke with your team members about their personal career goals?
  • Do you have a plan for how to help them achieve those goals?
  • Do you hold them accountable for meeting their goals?
  • When was the last time you went down on the factory floor to better understand the complexities of your product manufacturing?
  • Do you monitor industry associations and know what the latest trends are?
  • Have you shadowed your sales force to truly hear the voice of your customers and understand their needs and what they are looking for?

Once you’ve assessed the current situation, start creating plans that will form the foundation for a more innovative and effective marketing communications department—one that will attract, develop, and retain innovative employees.

Professional development plans should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely). Here are a few sample development plans for employees up and down your org chart that will build a foundation for a more innovative marketing team that could actually apply those strategies and tactics you see in conference agendas, blog posts and white papers.

These plans should always be customized to the individual employee – everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, goals and interests – but they provide a good framework for creating lasting culture change in your B2B marketing.

The pandemic may have forced us to adapt on the fly and come up with creative solutions to challenges we couldn’t have imagined a year ago, but it’s also showed us what’s possible if we think beyond best practices and identify new solutions. Let’s do more than recover from this. Let’s make this the start of a new beginning for all of us.

How to Be Heard: Learnings from the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference

By Deanna Tomaselli
Young Professionals Co-Chair

Speaking up doesn’t always come easy for everyone. But there’s a difference between speaking up and being heard. It’s less about being the loudest voice in the room, and more about being seen and recognized, which unfortunately doesn’t always happen.

The Pennsylvania Conference for Women took place virtually this year, and speaker Charmaine McClaire – an executive coach and communications expert – shared her insights on the topic of helping people find their voice. Which can be even more difficult now, as we’re not meeting in person and meetings take place virtually over tools such as Teams or Zoom. Charmaine notes that we need to have domain over our own narrative. Because if you don’t define yourself, others will define yourself for you.

Defining Who You Are

When thinking about defining ourselves, it’s more than just a title. For example, yes, I am Vice President of Client Services at The Motherhood, but how does that resonate with who I am speaking to? Charmaine notes that there is power in our voices and our stories. And your story is about how you add value. What’s your personal value proposition? When I think about mine, I help my clients tell their brand story to targeted audiences through the power of influencer marketing. They can reach new customers through these trusted, established thought leaders in their communities. See the difference?

In addition to talking about your value, it’s also important to quantify it. There’s strength in numbers, and quantifying what you do (or the data behind it) helps bring your story to life. Perhaps that means the amount of budget you manage, or the number of people on your team.

An important note here, too, is that what you do may not always be your day-to-day job. Instead, it can be what you are passionate about. This could be the work you’re doing in your community – whether that means volunteering with a non-profit, writing a blog, sitting on a board of directors or helping at your church. Or something like being a caretaker of a neighbor, child or parent. Whatever it is that you do – and whatever brings you happiness and provides others value – should be included in your personal definition.

The Six Principles

Now that you’ve established who you are, it’s time to be heard! Here are Charmaine’s six principles to put this into action:

  1. Communicate the vision: Leaders communicate a vision, not a task. They paint a vivid picture that you can see long-term.
  2. Speak in headlines: When you think about watching or seeing the news, you know what is attention-grabbing. Use this same principle when communicating your vision.
  3. Have three “must-make” points: What are the top three takeaways you want people to remember and that encapsulates your vision? These are the three questions every audience member will have: Why should I listen? What’s in it for me? What do you want me to do about it?
  4. Create witnesses: Make sure you have people in your corner that are witnesses to your great work. Setting them up in advance to be your advocates and back you up can help make sure your vision is heard.
  5. Don’t audition for the part: You don’t need to ask for permission to share your insight. Show up and communicate because you’re going to add value.
  6. Embody your message: Ensure you are walking, talking and acting the part. Because you must believe and live your message before conveying it to others.

Practice Makes Perfect

Before your next call, presentation or conversation, practice. Don’t speak with a question mark. Speak with authority. Try practicing in front of a mirror or record yourself on your computer or phone. One other tip is to make sure your witnesses are ready to go before you speak. Say you are presenting via Zoom and someone argues with your or disagrees with you. Yes, they have the right to, but your witnesses can serve as backup to prove your thoughts. Knowing they are there can help you build your confidence.

Now is the time to take action. While being heard can be intimidating, the results will speak for themselves. As Charmaine noted, be freaking powerful.

Deanna Tomaselli is a Vice President at The Motherhood, an influencer marketing agency, and an active member of the PRSA Pittsburgh board. She shares industry insights, career learnings, and life in the ‘Burgh at PRettyinPgh.com.

From the armed forces to the civilian workforce: Tips to attract, hire and retain veterans 

By Taylor Fife
Diversity & Inclusion Co-Chair and Social Media Co-Chair

Did you know veterans face a higher unemployment rate than civilians, especially in Pennsylvania? Just last year the state had the
second highest unemployment rate of veterans in the country. 

For PHV, our 2020 public service nonprofit partner, this data is simply unacceptable. 

PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee invited PHV to appear in a special Screen to Screen episode on Facebook Live, “Why You Should Be Hiring Veterans.” The event aimed to highlight inclusive hiring practices for veterans and the unique qualities they bring to the workforce. 

Kristen Wishon, PRSA Pittsburgh’s public service chair, interviewed PHV Executive Director Dayna Brown; Employment Specialist Brian Harkins, a Marine Corps veteran; and George Scott, a former PHV employee and Marine Corps veteran, who shared his gratitude for PHV’s support as he worked to rejoin the workforce in Southwestern Pennsylvania.


Problems veterans face when rejoining the workforce

A lack of understanding of the veteran experience, miseducation and the stigma of mental health are some of the biggest issues veterans face when rejoining the workforce.

“Veterans struggle to be understood by the majority of the population,” Brown said. Less than 8% of the U.S. population has served or is serving in the military. “It’s a small population, but a very important one. That means the other 92% of our population have never served in the military and can’t directly relate to the veteran experience.”

More conversations between local veteran organizations and the top levels of the military could combat this misunderstanding. Open and direct lines of communication will help build a better pipeline to understanding veterans and implementing equitable hiring practices.

“Civilians are a very important part of our transition back into society and the barrier between us and them needs to be broken,” Scott said.

Employers and hiring managers need to educate themselves on the issues veterans face when rejoining the workforce. This includes eradicating implicit biases and moving past the mental health stigma surrounding veterans. 

Many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses with military combat and war veterans, but one out of every five civilians, or about 20% of the U.S. population, is enduring a mental health issue, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Only about 8% of military veterans experience mental illness, reports the Department of Defense.

“That’s significantly lower than the civilian population, but yet the perception is that mental health illnesses are a lot higher in the military,” Harkins said. 

Civilians, employers and hiring managers should seek understanding rather than trying to be understood. They must recognize that everyone has traumas, not just veterans. 

Unique qualities veterans bring to the workforce

Returning to civilian life, veterans possess countless skills to benefit an employer, including:

  • Discipline
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • The ability to work unsupervised and hold themselves accountable
  • Critical thinking skills, especially under pressure or tight deadlines

“They’re incredibly committed, flexible, resourceful and resilient,” said Brown, who is also the spouse of a Marine. “Many veterans have often led teams and were responsible for the general welfare and wellbeing of the people who they were leading, even after the mission was completed. Just imagine how valuable they would be to a team.”

How employers can implement inclusive hiring practices

Five days’ worth of transition assistance is given to service members who are leaving the military, intended to help acclimate to civilian life.

“Unfortunately, it’s just five days, so then it ultimately becomes up to the veteran to pick up the pieces and fill in the gaps where they don’t understand,” Brown said. 

Employers should instead aid veterans in their transition, taking advantage of local veteran centers.

“Ease the stress and trauma of unemployment for them,” Brown said. “Remember, they’ve been working hard in the military to protect our country and they’re coming back to the unknown. Just come alongside a veteran and guide them.”

Employers also need to become more innovative in their hiring practices, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the existing digital divide even more.

“When I was going through the interview process for the Red Cross, I explained to them that Zoom didn’t work for me,” Scott said. “I explained my situation and they were willing to talk to me over the phone and even through texting.” 

Scott was grateful his future employer was aware of his unique situation and needs, but knows not all veterans receive the same treatment.

“We all have to work together to be stronger together,” added Scott

Employers need to realize most people have legitimate reasons for gaps in their resumes. Brown urges employers to become more aware of the unique challenges a veteran may have endured, or are still enduring. 

“Have another veteran look at a veteran’s resume, or have a veteran sit in on an interview, so they can aid the hiring manager and assign a mentor to help transition the veteran into the culture of your company,” suggested Brown. 

In order to create a supportive environment fostering veteran success, PHV encourages companies and organizations to join its employer partner network

“I wouldn’t have made it without PHV,” Scott said. “I couldn’t find employment but PHV hired me. They are breaking down the barriers to employment.” 

Veteran employment, training & educational resources

PHV recommends the following resources to veterans, employers, hiring managers and any individuals who want to aid in improving veteran hiring outcomes in our region.

Regional Resources

National Resources


PRSA also offers free, national membership to qualified public affairs professionals transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce.

Please email us at info@prsa-pgh.org or contact us via social media or here on our website if you would like a veteran service organization added to this list. 

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.

Hear from SEO experts at DICK’S Sporting Goods in our At Home With series

By Catherine Clements
Young Professionals Co-Chair

Tune in on Zoom for PRSA Pittsburgh’s new, virtual series at home with top communications professionals in the area from some of your favorite Pittsburgh brands. Next up is Pittsburgh legend DICK’S Sporting Goods.

During this 45-minute session, we’ll be talking to four SEO experts about who they are, what they do and how they got there. Registrants will have the opportunity to network and participate in a live Q&A. Plus, they’ll provide actionable tips for you to be the best comms pro you can be!

Save the Date: Thursday, November 12 at 5:30 pm on Zoom

RSVP via Eventbrite


A Look at the Lineup:

Noah Fleming, SEO Specialist


Noah has been working in the digital marketing space for 7+ years and is currently a SEO Specialist at DICK’S Sporting Goods. He oversees Apparel, Footwear and other divisions within the organization to drive organic traffic.



Ray Judy, SEO Content Specialist


Ray serves as the SEO Team’s Content Specialist. His main responsibilities include developing content for the Pro Tips blog and writing SEO copy for shoppable eCommerce pages.




Tara Kaloz, SEO Specialist


Tara Kaloz, marketing and eCommerce professional with over a decade of multifaceted experience. She is currently an SEO Specialist at DICK’S Sporting Goods, where she oversees Outdoor Equipment, Golf and other divisions. She loves coming up with creative solutions for an ever-changing industry.



Andy Wert, eCom Analyst – SEO


A graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in marketing, Andy began his professional career in SEO working for the agency Merkle Inc. After spending a year and a half in the agency setting, Andy made the transition to in-house SEO and has recently joined our DICK’S Sporting Goods team as an SEO Analyst.

Close-up of a faded multicolor mural on a brick wall with a sign to the left that says, "Accessible Entry" with a small wheelchair accessible icon

PR Summit Digital Series: Building a More Accessible, Inclusive World

By Megha Pai

D&I Committee Co-Chair and Social Media Co-Chair  

As a society, it’s our job to make things as accessible as possible. As part of the 2020 PR Summit, one session touched upon an aspect of diversity and inclusion that isn’t talked about often enough: disability.  Anyone with a disability should be given the opportunity to access the same places and resources as anyone else.

Celebrating peoples’ unique identifiers and leveling the playing field for everyone are important aspects of diversity, inclusion and equity that we should all strive to achieve. And, an inclusive society can make things easier for everyone to use and understand, not just those with disabilities. 

A Tool for Change: The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. That’s 30 years of progress in access and inclusion, which was the direct result of many years of effort by those with disabilities and disability advocates.

In fact, there are about 11 million people of various disabilities who want to and are able to work, but only around 29% are employed — compared to 75% of the typically abled population.

To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the ADA, PublicSource and Unabridged Press wanted to know the answers to these questions: 

  • How has the ADA changed life for Pittsburghers with disabilities? 
  • What progress still needs to be made now, three decades after the law was passed? 

When compiling this information, it became apparent that a website was needed. Enter Remy Davison, web designer. Remy worked on creating an accessible website that hosted stories, first-person essays, video, and podcast content. To ensure the site design was intuitive, clean, and accessible to everyone, Remy conducted accessibility testing with a range of users with disabilities.

Increase Your Website’s Accessibility

Below are a few tips from Remy about how to increase the accessibility of your website.

  • Make your website logically laid out
  • Design your website with the input of those with disabilities
  • Utilize alt text in images
  • Provide an accessibility menu 
    • Resources like UserWay can help with this
  • Check your site against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

The technology permeating our lives makes accessibility more possible than ever before. So, if you have the capabilities to customize your site in a way that makes it more accessible, use them. As Remy says, “Customization is key when designing for accessibility.”

A Technological Shift We’re Capable of Handling

Remember when smartphones became more popular in the early 2010s? During that time period, there was a huge shift in making websites optimized for mobile screens … before that, they were only really usable on computer screens. 

Similarly, we should be seeing the same shift in making websites optimized for accessibility. Even if you have to retrofit your site, do it. 

Continuing the Conversation

Disability is an often-neglected aspect of diversity and inclusion, so having this discussion was a critical part of our month-long PR Summit. 

Through thoughtful communications, comprehensive storytelling and the power of technology, we can continue making this world accessible for all.

Learn more about all of PRSA Pittsburgh’s D&I efforts here.

PR Summit Digital Series: CEOs Against Stigma Recap

By Nelli Tokleh
Diversity & Inclusion Committee Member

PRSA Pittsburgh hosted the second installment of the PR Summit Digital Series last week with “Combatting the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace.” This online event featured our 2019 public service recipient, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Keystone Pennsylvania and its director of communications and marketing, Maria Kakay. The session highlighted how our chapter’s members collaborated with NAMI in a campaign called CEOs Against Stigma,  – which we engaged with local business leaders to combat the stigma of mental illness in the workplace. 

Moderated by PRSA Pittsburgh board member Deanna Tomaselli, Vice President of Client Services at The Motherhood, the session discussed the strategies and tactics of this campaign — as well as how the pandemic has impacted mental health for workers in 2020.

CEOs Against Stigma 

NAMI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, adolescents, adults and families affected by mental illness through recovery-focused support, education and advocacy. With the CEOs Against Stigma program, our chapter helped increase brand awareness of the program’s mission by:

  • Educating executive leaders about the impact mental illness is having on the workplace 
  • Assisting leaders in developing policies and practices that prioritize mental health and reduce stigma
  • Urging CEOs to sign the CEO Pledge, which unlocks access to a six-step toolkit (a free program)

Campaign Rollout 

To kick off the 2019 campaign, chapter members formed a committee. This committee was tasked with planning a strategy and executing the following tactics:

  • Conducting research, including a survey to reach CEOs
    • This survey was focused on the state of mental health in each CEO’s workplace
    • Research was also conducted into which local media outlets had covered the topic of mental health 
  • Planning a targeted media approach, including:
    • Writing and distributing a press release on the PRSA Pittsburgh and NAMI partnership
    • Sending media invitations for the breakfast event 
  • Promoting the campaign on PRSA Pittsburgh and NAMI Keystone PA’s website and social media channels
  • Hosting a breakfast event for the community, to raise awareness 
  • Garnering media coverage on the partnership and breakfast event in several local broadcast, print and online outlets 

Survey Results 

We developed a survey to get a temperature check on the state of mental health in the workplace from local CEOs themselves. This tactic helped our team communicate the results to NAMI, who went on to promote their mental health resources to support local businesses. The goal was to help these businesses prioritize mental health and reduce the stigma around it. 

Key highlights from the survey included these findings: 

  • 75% of CEOs had employees who were experiencing mental health concerns, or who had family members experiencing mental health concerns
  • 90% were concerned about a loss of productivity 
  • 60% of companies had an Employee Assistance Program 
    • Of those that did not, 70% had other resources

Campaign Results

Throughout the year, we successfully increased awareness of the campaign in the community. Highlights included:

  • Reaching CEOs in the Pittsburgh region
  • The CEO Pledge being signed by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto
  • Booking media interviews with WESA-FM and “Our Region’s Business”

Get Involved 

To volunteer with our local NAMI chapter, please contact Maria Kakay at mkakay@namikeystonepa.org. If you’re a local CEO who wants to learn more about NAMI’s free resources, contact Maria as well. 

To get involved with our chapter’s various public service campaigns, email our Public Service Chair Kristen Wishon at ka.wishon@gmail.com.

Also, check our website for details about upcoming PR Summit sessions throughout October. 

You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more news and events from our chapter. 

This year’s PR Summit consists of weekly presentations in October featuring topics in recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month. Every Wednesday, PRSA Pittsburgh will host one or two sessions facilitating hard conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the PR industry. Each presentation will include time for Q&As, so that attendees can participate in these critical discussions. RSVP here


First PR Summit Session Aims to Transform the D&I Landscape in PRSA Chapters

By Charlene Payne
Diversity & Inclusion Committee Member

It’s a unique time for businesses and organizations committing to a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion. It’s a time where communicators can lead conversations, redirect dialogues, and mitigate the repercussions of unconscious biases to help us discover the real issues and challenges. 

This made Felicia Blow, APR, Co-Chair of the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion Committee and 2021 National Chair-Elect Nominee, the perfect choice for our first PR Summit session. Felicia challenged attendees to think, act, and make a difference in our communities (through voices and  actions) in her presentation, “Think, Act, Make a Difference: Transforming the PRSA D&I Landscape.” 

We must communicate with others to help them find their voices, and to help them understand the true issues, Felicia said. These themes of equity and inclusion were woven throughout her powerful presentation, which included PRSA’s strategic plan and methods on how to engage current and future professionals.

Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices

Felicia’s recommended steps align themselves with the PRSA Strategic Plan’s objectives. They include:

  • Being an example to other organizations when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We must have representation within our organization by being planted at the table.
  • Showing integrity to other organizations. We have to be an example for other groups with diverse leadership.
  • Establishing one consistent definition for diversity and inclusion,  a separate initiative from affirmative action, EEOC, quotas, etc.
  • Creating pipelines from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to the organization.
  • Partnering with organizations like the National Association of Black Journalists and ColorComm.
  • Reimagining the definition of “new pro” (recent graduate vs. new to the industry).

Implementing Diversity & Inclusion 

Felicia recommends completing the following tasks when implementing diversity and inclusion into your chapter or organization:

  • Read the PRSA D&I Strategic Plan. Share the insights within it to strengthen its execution.
  • Build a D&I Calendar for the remainder of 2020. Begin thinking of your 2021 D&I activity calendar now.
  • Prepare for annual recognition of PRSA’s Diversity and Inclusion Month in October. 
  • Reach out to the National D&I Committee with questions and support.

This first PR Summit session taught us that chapters and organizations can use PRSA’s D&I Strategic Plan to deliver quantifiable results—helping them maintain strong footing in today’s multicultural marketplace, and in the global landscape of the future. If you’re interested in additional strategies on how to include diversity and inclusion in your organization, check outPRSA National’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit.

This year’s PR Summit consists of weekly presentations in October featuring topics in recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month. Every Wednesday, PRSA Pittsburgh will host one or two sessions facilitating hard conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the PR industry. Each presentation will include time for Q&As, so that attendees can participate in these critical discussions. RSVP here