Students from the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at the University of Delaware (PRSSA-UD) stopped by Momentum’s office during their Spring Field Trip to New York in early May. As an alumna of UD and PRSSA, it was rewarding, and a little strange, to take part in this trip as a professional instead of a student.
PRSSA-UD gave me my first glimpse into what it means to be a PR professional. PRSSA led me to my first PR internship experience as a rising junior. As an executive board member, I worked on the public speaking and leadership skills that have ultimately helped me get to where I am today.
During our meeting, in between discussing the work Momentum does for our clients and the differences between agencies that work with corporations and brands vs. nonprofits, we addressed the elephant in the room – almost all of us were women and all of us were white. In the PR landscape, this isn’t uncommon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the ethnic makeup of the PR industry in the U.S. is 87.9% white. The 2015 Holmes Report found that while women make up 70% of those employed in the U.S. PR industry, they make up only 30% of agency C-suite executives.
Momentum works with many nonprofit organizations that address workforce diversity. It’s important to them, and to the PR industry as a whole, that we have sometimes difficult conversations about how we can improve our own diversity efforts. It’s encouraging to see a group of young women about to enter the workforce having these tough conversations, too.
We also discussed the misconception that there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to do PR. While there are definitely do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned over my past two years at Momentum, the most insightful thing I’ve learned is that there’s no perfect template for success. My days are filled with trial and error, and being in a space that allows me to make mistakes (and over time allowing myself the same luxury) has immensely impacted my professional growth.
Sharing these insights with a group of students who are trying to “figure it out” (much like I was at the time) was refreshing. I can’t think of a better way to give back to an organization that helped me launch my career than serving as a resource for its current members. Thank you, PRSSA-UD, for reminding me how far I’ve come and how excited I am to see what comes next.