This post originally appeared in the Journal of Public Relations Education. This summary appears courtesy of the authors. 

Dr. Katie R. Place and Dr. Antoaneta M. Vanc explored public relations students’ notions of diversity and client work within the public relations curriculum. The researchers wanted to know how students define “diversity” in the context of client work, and how client work prepares students to address diversity as future public relations professionals.

To explore these questions, 22 public relations students at three mid-sized universities were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone. All students in the purposive sample had completed a public relations campaigns course prior to participation in the study.

Key findings include:

  • Participants engaged with the meaning of diversity in four main ways:
    • Self-reflection, such as turning to personal anecdotes regarding their own diverse experiences and identities
    • A “different from me” perspective, where students were aware of diversity when they encountered clients or publics who differed from them in terms of race, geography, class, income, or education.
    • Viewing diversity as an issue, as diversity can make it tougher for students to cater to audiences that they cannot personally identify with.
    • Making assumptions that social media is the best tool to reach a diverse audience.
  • Students’ perceptions of client work as a bridge to an increasingly diverse public relations profession centered on notions of exposure, awareness, personal growth and preparedness.

Read more about students’ perceptions of diversity and client work and the influence those perceptions have on public relations practice.


Place, K. R., & Vanc, A. (2016, December 14). Exploring Diversity and Client Work in Public Relations Education. Retrieved September 08, 2020, from

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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