5 Excuses Debunked: Consider your Accreditation in Public Relations

by Michele Papakie, D.Sc., APR

If you have five years of professional public relations experience, and you haven’t begun to pursue your accreditation in your field, what the heck are you waiting for? 

Earning your APR is an exciting challenge that serves as a third-party endorsement to your mad PR skills. All you need to do is apply, present a campaign you have RPIE’d (Researched, Planned, Implemented and Evaluated) to a panel of colleagues, then take a proctored exam of 132 questions.

Let’s discuss some reasons (excuses) you may have for not accepting this challenge and adding this impressive credential to your resume, business card and LinkedIn profile.

  1. “I’m not a good test-taker.” OK, fair. Neither am I. But, you have been living this work for at least five years. You know how to do it, and you’re good at it! You are equipped with a 161-page study guide, and you only need to get 82 questions correct to pass. Bonus: There is not ONE math question on this test.
  2. “I don’t have time to do this.” I have a mantra I use when I think I don’t have time for something: “If I only have a minute, it only takes a minute.” We make time for things that are important to us. And, preparing for the APR is classic multitasking. You are doing the work every day that will get you that accreditation. You need only carve out time to read a study guide a few times, present a campaign you’ve already lived and sit for an exam.
  3. “What if I fail?” To those of you who have never failed anything in your life, failure is not the end of the world. It is actually when we learn the most about ourselves. Study what you missed, and re-take the test. No biggie. (You’re not going to fail, by the way.) 
  4. “I have a job. It’s not going to help me.” For me, the APR process validated my public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. Studying for the exam was a robust review of the basics – things we can stray from as we work day-to-day in our profession. Any professional development you do throughout your life builds more than just your resume. It builds courage and confidence.
  5. “I can’t afford it.” It costs $385 to take the exam. That might sound like a huge chunk of change to you early in your career. I get that. But you should look at it as an investment in yourself. It may help you to get that next job that comes with a significant raise, and it’s way cheaper than a graduate degree. Employers may agree to help you with this cost, and maybe your PRSA chapter can, too, somehow.

If you choose to go for it, know you’re not alone. I am here to help. Reach out to me anytime for more information, michelepapakie@gmail.com.

Michele is the Accreditation Chair for PRSA Pittsburgh. She is an associate professor of strategic communication and media at Slippery Rock University. She earned her APR during the pandemic in August 2020.


April Showers Bring May Flowers

By Michele Papakie, D.Sc., APR

APR Month Brings “MAYbe I’ll Consider Doing That!”

If you have at least five years of professional PR experience under your belt, you should consider earning your accreditation in public relations. 

What’s involved? 

First you apply. Next, you prepare and make a presentation to a panel of APRs. Finally, you take a proctored exam. 

“Wait, did you say I have to take a test?!”

Let’s take some of the mystery out of the accreditation examination.

Start by taking 20-question Prometric online sample test. There are 132 questions on the actual APR exam that will test your knowledge in six areas. You only need to get 82 correct to score a 62% and pass. Did I mention there is NO MATH on the test? It’s way more fun than any SAT or GRE you have taken.

“OK, so that was a sample of the test. That wasn’t so bad. What else is on there?”

Check out the 161-page study guide you will use to prepare for the test. Before I applied to begin my APR journey, I read the study guide and thought, “Hey! I know a lot of this stuff, and I do it every day. I’m going to go for it.”

The rest is history.

If I can do this, you can do this. 

If you choose to go for it, know you’re not alone. I am here to help. Reach out to me anytime for more information, michelepapakie@gmail.com.

Michele is the Accreditation Chair for PRSA Pittsburgh. She is an associate professor of strategic communication and media at Slippery Rock University. She earned her APR during the pandemic in August 2020.


Spring into Action – Start Exploring the Possibility of Your APR Journey in APRil

By Michele Papakie, D.Sc., APR

Having been on the PRSA Pittsburgh executive board for a little over a year now, I am getting the impression that many of our chapter members don’t know much about the professional accreditation that is hanging out there for us to earn and proudly display on our resume, business card and LinkedIn profile.

April is PRSA’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) Month

Why not commit some of your time this month to simply exploring the possibility of pursuing it?

The outstanding APR team at PRSA national has launched a new APR website and created a fancy new brochure that feature information on the APR and APR+M. Both the website and the brochure describe how and why you should earn your professional accreditation.

The BLUF, as we say in the military, or bottom line up front, is that all you need to do is apply, make a presentation to a panel of colleagues and sit for a 132-question exam.

What’s on the test, you ask?

Things you already know and do every day! The computer-based examination tests six groupings of knowledge, skills and abilities:

1. Research, Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Programs;

2. Leading the Public Relations Function;

3. Managing Relationships;

4. Applying Ethics and Law;

5. Managing Issues and Crisis Communications; and

6. Understanding Communication Models, Theories and History of the Practice.

Get Connected

If you have at least five years of professional experience in our field, I would love to meet with you for a coffee, tea or adult beverage to answer any questions you may have about the APR. I earned my APR in August 2020 during the pandemic. If I can do it, I know you can, too.

Michele is the Accreditation Chair for PRSA Pittsburgh. She is an associate professor of strategic communication and media at Slippery Rock University. She earned her APR during the pandemic in August 2020 and can be reached at michelepapakie@gmail.com.


A message from PRSA National’s 2022 APR Chair, Dr. Felicia Blow, APR

  • An innovative webinar series, “Top Talents Compete: Who’s Got the Greatest Communication Campaign?,” kicking off on April 6 and running on consecutive Wednesdays from 3-4 PM ET through April 27. Structured as an online professional development game show, Tara L. Smith, M.S., APR, will host three contestants applying the four-step process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation, and participants decide who wins each week’s category.

• Editorial coverage including a series of PRsay blog posts and articles in the April issue of Strategies & Tactics.

• Information on the upcoming APR virtual Boot Camp, being held June 22-24. The Boot Camp is a three-day intensive course designed to provide a setting for busy professionals whose schedules don’t permit extensive preparation time, but it is not intended for those just beginning to pursue their accreditation.

While these resources are featured in April, the value of accreditation is of course demonstrated year-round, and those of you who have earned it know well the opportunities it can bring. 

Finally, as a professional who earned my APR many years ago, and who worked hard as Chair of the UAB to establish the APR+M credential, I am so proud of the work being done to advance the importance of these credentials. I want to encourage and assist everyone in whatever way I can to consider securing their APR or APR+M, a key part of which will be broadening the diversity of PRSA members who have earned their accreditation.

And for those of you who are considering or beginning the process, I like what Monique Farmer, APR, PRSA Nebraska board member, had to say on last week’s Strategies & Tactics Live: Enjoy the journey!

Professional Development: Join PRSA Nationals for a Fun, Four-Part Webinar Series

Participate in a Fun, Four-Part Webinar Series from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays this Month

Join PRSA Learning for this exciting new webinar series! You’ll be the ultimate judge to determine who’s got the greatest communication campaign! Across four riveting Wednesdays in April, join in to judge the best strategic framework in communication from three award-winning contestants with substantial expertise in entertainment, nonprofit, retail and technology, and learn strategic skills along the way.

“Top Talents Compete: Who’s Got the Greatest Communication Campaign?will kick off April 6 and run on consecutive Wednesdays through April 27. Get registered today!

Structured as an online professional development “game show” that requires your participation, Tara L. Smith, M.S., APR, will host three contestants applying the four-step process of research, planning, implementation and evaluation (RPIE). You decide who wins each week’s category as the contestants compete for your highest star ratings to successfully be the “Top Talent,” winner of the Greatest Communication Campaign in this webinar series.

Here is a sneak peek at how this weekly competition breaks down:

Week One: Our three contestants will present the problem they were given the opportunity to solve, set the stage for their approach and dive into the details about how they conducted research for each of their respective campaigns. At the end of the webinar, you submit your rating for which contestant conducted the greatest campaign research.

Week Two: Contestants present their campaign plan. Who’s got this? You decide the champ.

Week Three: Contestants walk you through implementation, and once again you determine their effectiveness.

Week Four: The grand finale showcases how each contestant evaluated their campaign, and you determine once and for all who’s got the greatest communication campaign of this webinar series.

April is PRSA’s APR Month. This webinar is a great opportunity to learn from some practitioners who have earned their professional accreditation. Tune in to see them in action and to vote on their campaigns. Maybe you’ll be inspired to earn your accreditation!

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.