This study is based on findings from 1) in-person interviews with employers and educators of young public relations professionals, 2) focus groups of African-American and Hispanic PR practitioners who graduated with a B.A. in 2008 or more recently, and 3) an online survey of African-American and Hispanic PR practitioners who graduated since 2008, and employers (both PR and HR) of African-American and Hispanic PR professionals. The study explored factors in the U.S. professional public relations workplace that present opportunities and obstacles to young African-American and Hispanic professionals, within the context of the 2008 economic recession and recovery.
The study finds that young African-American and Hispanic professionals are positive about their experiences in the PR profession (the “good news”), but they readily acknowledge regular race- and ethnic-based obstacles which temper their optimism for the future and their likelihood to recommend their career path to the next generation (the “bad news”).
Findings suggest that employer organizations have embraced diversity recruitment with, reportedly, success. However, once the young African-American and Hispanic PR employees are hired, diversity sensitivity and valuation falls short. Providing improvements for insufficient mentoring and other ineffective retention strategies may be the key issue, in 2015 and going forward, for bringing the U.S. public relations profession to a position in which it can benefit from the input of multicultural professionals as well as become a leader (instead of a laggard) in cultivating a diverse, rich, and creative workforce.