Survey Designed and Conducted by the National Black Public Relations Society, Inc.
Written by Dr. Rochelle Ford, APR, and Cedric Brown
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications | Syracuse University
Download White Paper: NBPRS State of the PR Industry White Paper
This white paper, sponsored by the National Black Public Relations Society, Inc. (NBPRS), explores the major trends affecting U.S. communications professionals who identify as members of the larger black diaspora. The 199 respondents to this online survey include those self-identifying as African-American, bi-racial – white/ black, black, black British, black/African Brazilian, Hispanic/black/Native American, black Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Latina, mixed, multicultural and Nubian, thus representing the Black diaspora. The NBPRS emailed this online survey to its members and asked that they distribute it to other professionals and associates.
The findings revealed that:
• Progress has been made by U.S. PR practitioners from the black diaspora. However, the challenge remains in how the industry sustains the progress particularly at the mid- and senior-levels of the profession while breaking down the door of the executive suite. About 50 percent of corporate respondents were at a managerial level and about 10 percent of agency respondents were mid- level professionals. Only one of the practitioners surveyed is considered to be at an executive-level within a major public relations agency, and none surveyed are serving in chief communication officer positions within organizations. Yet, 22 percent of participants reported owning their own firms or consulting practices, generally with fewer than five employees.
• Professionals desire PR career sustainability and career growth; professionals surveyed desire to stay in the industry and report looking to industry organizations to provide support for them to stay and grow in the profession. Participants are particularly interested in employing sponsors to obtain access to higher positions.
• Networking is critical to the success of black professionals, leading to career advancement and new business development for entrepreneurs; obtaining senior and executive-level positions is desired among most practitioners, and those who operate consulting firms and agencies desire to grow their public relations businesses.
• Professional development workshops are desired to help black professionals remain competitive and able to deliver value. Participants desire training in social media; new technologies; convergence of marketing, advertising and PR; and sustainable business and entrepreneurship. Despite many organizations offering such trainings, are these opportunities accessible and cost-effective for entrepreneurs and entry-level or mid-career professionals whose companies don’t provide professional development funding?