Rashida Ashley 07 Jul 2022 // 12:18PM GMT
MINNEAPOLIS — Six competing Twin Cities agencies — Carmichael Lynch Relate, Exponent PR, Hotwire, Padilla, Tunheim and Weber Shandwick — have extended their partnership aimed at promoting DEI in the PR industry.
For the second consecutive year, the agencies will be working with college students from underrepresented communities through their Twin Cities BIPOC Career Explorer program, which the firms founded after George Floyd’s murder to address racial inequities in the communications business.
The program, which works much like an externship, is focused on providing participants insight, context and experience through a series of educational sessions covering topics related to PR and communications as well as ongoing 1:1 mentorships with industry experts and leaders.
University of Minnesota’s journalism and communications school, Augsburg University, and Metropolitan State University are also supporting the program, whose larger goal is boosting recruitment of BIPOC students.
According to a 2021 Diversity Action Alliance study, 21% of employees in the PR industry are from diverse backgrounds. This was broken down to 7% being Black/African American, 6% being Hispanic/Latinx, 6% Asian, 3% two or additional races and 1% being Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/American Indian/Alaska Native industry professionals.
“It's obviously a very important endeavor to continue to create better opportunities for diversity within our profession and within the work that we've put out into the world,” said Carmichael Lynch Relate President Julie Batliner. “So we thought, gosh, since we all are doing this already on our own, we should join forces and do it together so that we can have an even broader impact and an even broader reach and provide broader opportunities for our BIPOC community and students to learn about different kinds of agencies, not just each individual agency.”
The second year of the program starts in September and will run through April 2023. It is open to all BIPOC students entering 300 and 400 level classes or who are within approximately two years of graduating. The inaugural class included 32 participants.
“We know that public relations is often sort of behind the scenes and the more people understand what we actually do day to day in an agency, what our work looks like what it takes to create that work, the better,” said Weber Shandwick Chief Client Officer Sara Gavin. “We know that networking is an important element of entering the profession. And so we tried to tackle in particular those two aspects of sort of opening you know, sort of opening our eyes or opening the student's eyes about what happens in agency life.”