Promoting diversity is essential to effectively practicing public relations. Public relations professionals must represent their organizations and clients and communicate with key stakeholders in a way that best responds to their clients’ needs. When public relations practitioners incorporate ideas from people with different backgrounds, they can encompass a wide variety of perspectives. The Society of Professional Journalists offers several tips on preserving diversity.
Diversity represents groups of people based on differences in characteristics, such as age, race, gender, language, and culture. For public relations, diversity means building relationships with a variety of publics. A public relations practitioner can improve a corporation’s reputation by reaching out to a diverse selection of stakeholder publics. Otherwise, an organization can create a negative reputation if they do not promote diversity. When the public accused Abercrombie and Fitch of discrimination, the company began a public relations plan that implemented new diversity initiatives to improve sales and mitigate negativity.
Building diversity in public relations
To build relationships with an unfamiliar community, public relations professionals must first develop background. Ways to conduct preliminary research include:
· Attend a cultural event.
· Read flyers and brochures to understand what issues compel the community the most.
· Talk to the average person, not just the self-appointed leaders in the community, in order to get a complete picture.
Communicating with a different culture
When communicating between clients and key stakeholders, it is essential to maintain inclusive language. For example, public relations professionals must use appropriate language to address people with disabilities, or their insensitivity could reflect badly upon the organization they represent. The Society of Professional Journalistssays to check appropriate terminology by knowing the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s style guide. For instance, “comatose” or “non-responsive” is acceptable, whereas “vegetative state” is not.
For more information on increasing diversity in the public relations field, find resources at the Public Relations Society of America.