PRSA National Chair Visits Philly to Talk Diversity,
PR Thought Leadership
by Michael Wood, MBA
At 70th anniversary luncheon, Felicia Blow encourages members to
"change the paradigm."
(Photos: Steve Lubetkin)
At a luncheon to celebrate PRSA Philly’s 70th anniversary, the chapter welcomed the national chair of PRSA, Felicia Blow, PhD, APR, PRSA Fellow, vice president of Development at Hampton University in Virginia. The chapter’s milestone coincides with PRSA National’s 75th anniversary.
In a 45-minute talk, Blow encouraged, challenged and celebrated PR professionals for the role communicators have played in every major movement in U.S. history and serving as the conscience of their organizations.
Rick Alcantara, past chapter president, opened the program by introducing 10 other past chapter presidents from over the years in attendance (Photos: Steve Lubetkin).
Michele Besso, current chapter president, introduced Dr. Blow, who led the national PRSA’s development of a new Diversity & Inclusion strategy, along with a D&I toolkit and resources for local chapters and members as PRSA marks Diversity Awareness Month in October.
“We are not hacks. We are not spin doctors,” she said. “We are a profession for all ages. We are change agents who help our organizations thrive…..You change hearts and minds, and you help make this world a better place when you use your time and talents to make a difference.”
Blow said she came to Philadelphia to “elevate your thinking and expand your point of view on the many dimensions of diversity,” encouraging members to check out the D&I resources on the PRSA website.
“You have so much to offer as PR professionals in changing the paradigm.” A native of Texas, Blow said D&I is a business imperative. “D&I isn’t about black or white, or us vs. them. It’s not just race or ethnicity,” she said. “It’s about business. Businesses that have robust D&I programs are more successful, performing better than their peers. That’s fact.”
“You are the conscience of your organizations. Own it! It’s your power. Your CEOs are looking for your help in understanding and navigating this D&I dynamic. D&I affects every single thing we do….how we engage with our employees and our communities and the language and the images we use.”
Blow urged the members to engage in ongoing training, continually learn and improve, expand their engagement, use surveys and listening tools to guide approaches, and measure the impact of their work. “One of the ways you can change the paradigm is to help your organization…do what’s right,” she said.
“I challenge you: be intentional, be consistent, and authentic….Give a little grace when people don’t get it right."
In her conclusion, she said the PRSA National board is focused on member value, member satisfaction, member retention, and member growth. “You are at the center of our thinking always.”
PRSA celebrates Diversity Awareness Month in October
Diversity and inclusion are integral to the evolution and growth of PRSA and the public relations industry.
Diversity and inclusion attributes impact how we approach our work, connect with others and move through the world. “Not marketing, HR or Legal, communicators can make a unique contribution to an organization’s D&I strategies. Employee engagement, in particular, is critical to successful D&I programs and creating an inclusive culture where employees feel the workplace is a safe place,” Blow said.
Visit the Diversity & Inclusion section of PRSA.org where you will find PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, its goals and objectives.
- Check out the D&I Toolkit for members, which includes PRSA’s statement on D&I, a calendar of events, diversity dialogues, resources, and helpful references.
- Get help in inclusive language: Find links to media style guides for race, ethnicity and religion with writing tips for engaging diverse audiences.
- Learn about the PRSA Foundation, its investments in the next generation of PR practitioners, and work with employers and industry organizations to create workplace-based inclusion efforts to welcome, support and retain a diverse workforce.
- Audit your web sites, social media pages, newsletters and publications to see if your language and images are inclusive.
*FYI, we are still looking for a D&I co-chair and committee members! Please contact President Michele Besso at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering!