The Public Relations Coalition, an alliance of 23 industry-related organizations, announced the findings of its first diversity benchmark survey today. The survey is part of the commitment made at the Coalition’s “Diversity Summit — held last year — to increase efforts in improving diversity in the public relations and communications fields.

The survey focused on two main areas of the profession: minority and female representation. Most respondents believe that the PR industry needs improvement at all levels of minority representation, particularly at the senior level. The survey found that, as a percentage of staff, representation of minority groups decreases for senior management positions compared to non-managerial roles. While the majority of respondents agreed that the industry is very diverse as it pertains to women, results indicated that there is room for improvement when it comes to filling senior level positions with women.

“The results and recommendations gathered from this research will hopefully provide the leaders in our profession with guidance when they’re considering important talent issues,” said James E. Murphy, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Accenture and chairman of the Coalition. “It is encouraging that the industry has rallied behind this issue, and has pledged a long-term commitment to improving the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce.”

The online survey was completed by 73 respondents, composed of heads of corporate communications within large corporations and CEOs of public relations firms. The study was conducted for the Coalition by BPRI, a WPP research agency.

Several areas that need to be improved in order to enhance diversity were identified in the survey, including recruitment and mentoring practices, networking activities and advancement procedures.

Many respondents provided suggestions for ways to improve recruiting and mentoring, including: enhancing the image of the industry in the eyes of minority groups by increasing the visibility of African Americans, Asians and Latinos who are in significant public relations roles. Suggestions on how to improve mentoring included: offering more training and internships; working with universities and colleges to attract minorities into the profession, and mentoring students at the college level.

BPRI, the research firm, stated that the study is statistically accurate, based on the numbers of department heads and agency CEOs identified within the Coalition organizations. However, due to the sample size and question methodology, the final results provide only a snapshot of the current views and understandings of those senior managers, and are not meant to be a robust statistical analysis of the entire industry’s attitudes on diversity.

The PR Coalition is composed of leaders of public relations and related organizations who meet periodically to discuss common interests. It collectively represents more than 50,000 practitioners in the fields of public relations, corporate and organizational communications, investor relations and public affairs.

The PR Coalition has been active since early 1999; it hosted its first summit in January 2002, producing a white paper titled: “Restoring Trust in Business: Models for Action.” Coalition member organizations include:

Arthur W. Page Society
Asian American Advertising and Public Relations Alliance
Association of Business Communication
The Conference Board Council of Communications Strategy
Corporate Communication Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University
Council of Communication Management
Council of Public Relations Firms
Foundation of WEPR
Global Public Affairs Institute
Hispanic Public Relations Association
Institute for Public Relations
International Association of Business Communicators
International Public Relations Association
The Lagrant Foundation
National Black Public Relations Society
National Investor Relations Institute
National School Public Relations Association
Public Affairs Council
Public Relations Society of America
PRSA Counselors Academy
PRSA Foundation
San Francisco Academy
Women Executives in Public Relations

Copies of the study are being provided to all members of the Coalition organizations. Additional copies can be obtained by contacting Paul Basista, Executive Director, Arthur Page Society, 317 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10017; (212) 400-7959, ext. 101;

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