National Black Public Relations Society Releases Survey Citing Need for Industry to Intensify Efforts to Increase Diversity and Strengthen Partnerships with Smaller Firms

Survey results released today at industry summit in Washington, D.C.

State of the Black PR Industry Profile of the Black PR Professional (Graphic: Business Wire)

WASHINGTON--()--The National Black Public Relations Society Inc. (NBPRS), the foremost organization for image-makers and brand strategists, run by professionals for professionals, challenged major public relations agencies to intensify its efforts to improve diversity and to strengthen its partnerships with smaller, black-owned firms.

NBPRS released its white paper, 2015 State of the PR Industry: Defining & Delivering on the Promise of Diversity, at its one-day, invitation-only summit, held today at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, D.C. The off-the-record discussion is setting the direction for the future state of the organization – and the industry. Dr. Rochelle L. Ford, professor and chair, Newhouse School, Syracuse University, and Cedric Brown, research assistant, Syracuse University authored the white paper. Clarke L. Caywood, full professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, worked with Ford and Brown on analyzing the results. There were 199 respondents to this online survey that was emailed to its members who were asked to distribute it to other professionals and associates.

“There is no one root cause for the diversity crisis,” said Richelle Payne, president, NBPRS, Inc. “We need a multi-layered, collaborative approach between the industry and black communicators. The time is right to position this organization as a critical partner in transforming agencies and corporations, and empowering black-owned businesses for the global opportunities of the future.”

Four of the major themes of this survey’s findings are:

Progress has been made by U.S. PR practitioners from the black diaspora.

  • Blacks are found in all market segments including: corporate (20.6 percent), agency (23.8 percent), government (6.3 percent), nonprofit (12.2 percent), education (10 percent). Blacks also are well represented at mid-level positions in agencies.

Professionals desire PR career sustainability and career growth.

  • Black practitioners are looking for assistance from the profession for networking, professional development and career advancement, particularly understanding the risks and benefits of sponsors.

Networking is critical to the success of black professionals, leading to career advancement and new business development for entrepreneurs.

  • There’s a greater need for the industry to focus its attention on enhancing vendor relations and supplier diversity, creating more subcontracting opportunities for large agencies to collaborate with small and minority owned businesses.

Professional development workshops are desired to help black professionals remain competitive and able to deliver value.

  • There needs to be greater opportunities for black professionals to get access to workshops that will enable them to stay current with digital and social media technology and tools. They also want tools to help create and/or grow their businesses.

Dr. Ford said the ability for black PR professionals to be global storytellers is absolutely critical. What the results also show is that while diversity is not viewed as a challenge, there are still few black communicators in leadership roles where they work. “We hope this will help people to listen, talk and develop actionable steps,” she said.

During the daylong summit, NBPRS board members are discussing and developing specific actionable solutions to help increase diversity, focusing on mid-career practitioners across the industry and agencies. They also will look to create strategies to strengthen competencies and increase opportunities for black-owned businesses.

Sponsors for this year’s Summit are: Coca-Cola, GolinHarris, Edelman, Mitchell Communications Group, PR Council and Safeway.

About the National Black Public Relations Society, Inc.

Since its founding in 1997, the National Black Public Relations Society, Inc. has served as an advocate for black professionals in the public relations, media relations, corporate communications, investor relations, government affairs, community relations and related fields. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @nbprs.


Neil Foote, NBPRS Public Relations Chair
Mobile: 214-448-3765


Neil Foote, NBPRS Public Relations Chair
Mobile: 214-448-3765