PR pros a no-show in multicultural conversation
October 20, 2011 in Diversity and Inclusion
We can all agree that the PRSA 2011 International Conference in Orlando was a success. Inspirational key note speakers, more than 90 professional development sessions, tons of networking – and who didn’t love being stranded at the J.W. Marriott with $12 wraps or high-end Primo as your only dining options?
Fortress setting aside, it was also refreshing to see so many sessions in the program book dedicated to multiculturalism and diversity in the PR industry. Soledad O’Brien’s keynote speech on storytelling across all ethnicities should have sent attendees flocking to sessions like “The Case for Diversity in PR” and “Core Multicultural Competencies for PR practitioners.”
But that wasn’t the case.
Sunday’s session, “Do You Speak World? A Cultural Communications Toolkit for PR Professionals,” saw no more than 10 people. Maybe six people showed up to “The Case for Diversity in PR,” and perhaps around 15-20 to the “Core Multicultural Competencies for PR Practitioners.”
Granted, these last two sessions were on the last day of the conference when everyone’s scurrying to get to the airport, so that could justify the low headcount. But I still sat in on a general session during the latest set of workshops with about 30 attendees (it was on measuring new and old media).
I also have to admit I wasn’t present at earlier diversity or multiculturalism workshops. So please correct me if I’m wrong about sessions like Manny Ruiz and Cristy Clavijo-Kish’s “The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing to Latinos through Social Media.” I didn’t attend because I knew they’d touch upon stats and best practices that, as a multicultural PR specialist, I’m already generally aware of.
And I was right – the sessions I did attend offered thorough and fantastic insight for newbies to the multicultural space. But it wasn’t the newbies who showed up. It was all the professionals of varying ethnic backgrounds who already know and understand the significance of reaching diverse audiences.
Which raises the question: how do we get those who don’t yet comprehend it to those sessions? How do we bring them into the conversation?
We’re not going talk about the importance of tolerance and embracing people of all colors. We’re above that. We want to talk numbers. We want you to see the math, to see the figures that can very well make or break your business. And we want to help you understand how to best communicate with these communities. Because when more than one-third of the U.S. population is a minority, all companies should have a multicultural marketing strategy.
Thank you to PRSA for bringing together exemplary speakers. Hopefully next year’s conference in San Francisco offers just as many opportunities for professionals to understand the multicultural space. And I hope more PR practitioners show up for the conversation.
Check out what others were talking about on the conference Twitter stream.