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The Role of PR in Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

On June 18, we were joined by 24 communications professionals for a candid conversation on how we as public relations professionals have an opportunity to play an important role in shaping how our organizations, and our chapter, address diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Moderated by executive coaches and senior PR professionals Tracy Imm, APR, and Cathy Nyce, the chat was held as part of PRSA Maryland’s promise to continue to work to be more diverse and inclusive through meaningful and measurable goals.

*Due to the nature of the chat, it was not recorded but below is a quick snapshot of what was discussed.

“Your professional life starts with who you are. By pursuing transformational change, you can, and, and in fact, must change yourself. The act of working for transformation is transformative.”

On a personal level, Cathy Nyce led us in an exercise on how to develop a Personal Declaration to guide our actions. We can begin by asking …

  • What do I believe?
  • To what am I committed?
  • What is my growth edge?
  • What is important to me? Why?
  • What are the contributions I want to make?
  • How will I know when I am standing in my declaration? Note: looks like speaking out, making a contribution; not standing is staying silence

On a professional level, we talked about holding our organizational leadership accountable for statements and making sure they follow through with concrete actions. One challenge discussed was what to do if your organization’s leadership is hesitant to wade into social issues. Suggestions included pointing out that they do not want to be on wrong side of issues or left behind. Broaden their view illustrating where they may already be in that space on other issues. Also, stressing that doing nothing could be affecting future recruitment. The younger generation are activists as well as more diverse and integrated. They are asking about organizations ethics and values; critical talent could be loss if an organization seems uncaring.

We also talked about how important it is to reach out internally to employees. Suggested actions include surveying employees on what they need in terms of resources, offering mental health services to minority employees, and making DE&I part of the strategic plan.

Finally, we asked what we can do as a chapter to support our members. Below is a list of some of the suggestions:

  • provide more resources.
  • review the chapter’s strategic plan, and add diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (short term and long-term goals).
  • partner with minority organizations such as HBCUs, etc. to increase connections and networking
  • offer pro bono work with a minority organizations, businesses, and non-profits.
  • survey minority members in their experiences with PRSA.
  • reach out to PR minority students. Support internships in agencies.

This is, of course, only one step in the long process of advocating for change within our professional and we welcome all our members to participate in the ongoing conversation. We will be continuing the conversation begun at our 2018 and 2019 annual conferences with expanded dialogue at our 2020 virtual conference on racism in our city, and specifically in our industry, and systematic ways to overcome it. Save the date for Sept. 24 and 25!

 

Update! We are pleased to announce that after this chat, two participants stepped forward to lead our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. They will be working on building the committee over the summer and begin creating a strategic plan and DEI metrics to be launched in January 2021. Email us if you would like to be part of the initiative.

PRSA MD Weekly Chat: The Role of PR in Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Abrey, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and others, public relations professionals have an opportunity to play an important role in shaping how their organizations address diversity, equity and inclusion issues.

This week’s virtual chat will focus on what we have done or not done, where we go from here and how to develop a personal declaration to guide your actions. The discussion will be moderated by executive coaches and senior PR professionals Tracy Imm, APR and Cathy Nyce. We will be generating actionable steps that our chapter can take to ensure our recruiting, programming, events, and membership are more equitable, inclusive and diverse. 

Free to join in.

Never assume your crisis is over … until your audience says so!

We took a brief break from our #PRSAMDWeeklyChat only to come back on June 12 with PR pro Jeffrey Davis, APR, Managing Partner, Van Eperen! Jeff talked about the realities of crisis communications and why you need a solid plan to address Covid 2.0, our national conversation about racism and whatever awaits us in the “Next Normal.”

Listen below to full conversation below or read recap for highlights.

Highlights:

What is a crisis? Internally, a crisis is an event or a series of events which threaten the organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Externally, a crisis is an event or a series of events which put your organization’s values on trial in the court of public opinion.

Realities of a crisis: Your values will be communicated and will under public scrutiny. Remember that what you say must be reinforced by your behavior. Important publics (employees, media, competitors, neighbors, family, critics) are paying attention to you. Be ready with good messaging.

Basics of a crisis: Ask “what do you want people to think about you?” That you care, are doing something, and will prevent recurrence. That you are accountable and will be part of the solution. Have a solid messaging strategy that includes a media policy, prepared messaging platform procedures, trained/tested spokespeople. Tip:  When training spokespeople, practice with a series of Q&As that will prepare the spokesperson for the hardest questions imaginable. *Don’t train in the midst of a crisis! Crisis specifics make the news.

Tip: Journalists often put out calls for more information via social media. Be a part of the story; be prepared to answer those calls.

Initial statement: Don’t ignore the “window of opportunity.” Respond quickly. Your initial statement may be broad but make sure it is timely and be sure to address the key issues during this critical period. Tip: Don’t put the news media ahead of your own employees. They are your ambassadors and can help get the messaging out. Let your employees know what is going on. Tip: Organizations can be pulled into employee issues. If this happens, respond quickly.

Create a solid crisis communications plan that includes a mobile option allowing easy access to all. The mobile plan can be setup based on crisis levels vs. specific scenarios, i.e., Level 3 – Emergency event; Level 2 – Significate/threshold event; Level 1 – Major event. The plan should identify team members and their roles, current contact information, template statements, and social media passwords.

Crisis Management Best Practices:

  • Risk assessments – identify scenarios; plans using levels
  • Scheduled sessions to review plan
  • Regular updates to plan – internal team, external stakeholders, media/influence lists, contacts, templates, mobile version
  • Media/speaker training for primary spokespersons

 

PRSA MD Weekly Chat: Crisis Communications Review with Jeffrey Davis, APR

Join us for a chat with PR pro Jeffrey Davis, APR, Managing Partner, Van Eperen on the realities of crisis communications and why you need a solid plan to address Covid 2.0, our national conversation about racism and whatever awaits us in the “Next Normal.”

With world events changing every day, an updated and actionable crisis PR plan has never been more important.

In this 30 minute presentation, followed by Q&A, Jeff will cover …

  • Tips on messaging and communicating during a crisis
  • What to look for when analyzing your existing plan
  • How to build a mobile version of your plan
  • Considerations for communications around current events

Of course, we want to hear from you so come with your questions and tips to share. It’s FREE!

About PRSA Maryland Weekly Chat: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the ways it is affecting our professional and personal lives, we are holding weekly virtual meetings to gather and address a variety of topics.

Missed the last few weekly chats? Here you go …

Internal communications in the age of COVID-19

When the pandemic hit earlier this year, many organizations immediately started focusing on their external stakeholders making sure their customers knew the organization valued them especially as they had to close down or curtail operations for an indefinite period of time. But what about their internal stakeholders 

On Wednesday, May 27, we were joined by Jodi Davidson, VP, Global University & Inclusion, Sodexo Corp.; Tia Mason Howard, APR, Director Internal Communications, MedStar Health; Tom Williams, APR, Managing Director, Communications, MPT; Kristi Yowell, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Associate VP for Human Resources, Goucher College; & Dianna Fornaro, APR, Director and Accreditations Chair, PRSA Maryland Chapter (moderator) to discuss the importance of not neglecting this vital group.  

Listen to the full discussion below.  

Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Ignoring your internal communications can lead to an information vacuum filled with misinformation, confusion, and anxiety.  Ways to prevent this is to …  

  • Create internal messaging that aligns with external messaging. Be sure to recognize there are different stakeholders involved 
  • Avoid standalone communications so the message is consistent by coordinating with all departments. (i.e., standardized templates)  
  • Provide a steady stream of communications. For example, MPT made the commitment for video conference every two weeks to provide a regular form of communications 
  • Engage all leadership to stay consistent  

Effectively communicating with employees who are working virtual, especially for those new to this nature of work, is equally important. Be sure to …  

  • Provide adequate tech support 
  • Be patient and flexible as not everyone is tech-savvy  
  • Send print materials to people who may not be as engaged 
  • Communicate through text (HR app)  
  • Create a simple ask a question on a COVID-19 website page to answer questions about pay/safety/work requirements, etc.  

 *Consider that not all employees are remote. Don’t forget to arm leaders with the necessary tools to stay in touch 

Keeping all employees engaged and upbeat is another challenge. Be sure to …  

  • Acknowledge the strangeness of the situation. Create a campaign asking for videos of what it is like to work under these circumstances, i.e., at home with family, empty offices, etc. Share widely.  
  • Offer a place where people can express out loud the challenges they are facing (personally, professionally, etc.) Create a space of validation. Encourage open conversation via virtual coffee withs, happy hours, lunch gatherings, etc.  
  • Share kudos received from the external community to reinforce their importance. *People want to know their efforts are valued by both leadership and the community.  
  • Develop a social recognition platform where colleagues can give kudos, showcase work, post photos, etc.  
  • Recognize that your team may not be doing what they normally are good at and focus instead on those things your team is doing best right now.  
  • Establish norms and options/flexibility. Not every call/virtual meeting needs to be mandatory.  

*Tip for leadership: Be transparent! Admit you don’t have all the answers but will work on getting those answers asap.  

Have tips you’d like to share? Send to info@prsamd.org.

 

 Missed the last weekly chats? Here you go …

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors