Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Emily Diez

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship. Our third student recipient is Emily Diez, a Miami resident who is expected to graduate in December 2019.

Why did you choose to major in communications?

I’m an advertising/public relations major and I chose to major in this field because I love the idea of communicating directly to consumers and being able to do so creatively. This major was the perfect fit!

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?

I have completed four internships and one of the biggest things I’ve learned was the importance of communication, asking questions and prioritizing. I’ve interned at the following organizations: Office of Student Involvement at UCF, GreenHouse Agency, Florida Cruise Ports and Dentsu Aegis Network in New York via the MAIP program.

What would you like to do professionally?

I would love to do some kind of marketing or advertising in the entertainment industry, especially in music. 

Diversity and inclusion must be business-driven to be successful

By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair

“If enhancing diversity and inclusion is not for the right thing, then do it for the business case,” said Deloria Nelson, President of Authentic Culture & Engagement Solutions.

Nelson consults with Fortune 500 companies on how to better their diversity and inclusion goals by developing customized workforce solutions for their teams. She likes to give company leaders the business case for why engaging diversity and inclusion matters—not just for people, but also for bolstering the company’s productivity, performance, and bottom line.

Once an executive team understands the business case, the Human Resources department typically takes the reins. But it takes more than implementing a new hiring policy to become a company with an inclusive culture.

“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be business-driven and integrated in the business culture, not just a standalone HR initiative,” Nelson said. “CEO support and transparency are critical to creating longevity and stickiness in company culture because it drives accountability and credibility.”

Nelson recently spoke to members of the Florida Diversity Council at its May program, sharing plenty of statistics and examples of how engaging in these practices will keep your company at pace with evolving needs for better workplace practices.

“We are living in a political era in which more companies are determining that they need to improve their diversity and inclusion efforts,” she explained. “But it is not political; it is a people thing.”

Nelson says it’s okay to be vulnerable when making decisions in diversity and inclusion engagement, as long you’re sincerely trying.

“Just be willing to take the risk—even if you make missteps along the way,” she advised.

She does, of course, recommend some important guidelines. Keep in mind this advice when evaluating your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

 

Be aware of unconscious bias

Write objective skill sets in job postings and take a deep look at your words, phrases, and sentences that may be biased. Ensure there is a diverse slate of candidates interviewed by a diverse hiring panel. Diversity officers at the company are great, but how can one person define diversity and inclusion? Look at your leaders, too. Notice that representation is typically minimized as you move up in leadership positions. Be sure to give adequate support, tools, and resources equally for deserving individuals to progress at the company.

 

Be careful with “culture fit”

What does your office culture really mean? In our minds, we struggle with reconciling a new image of an old position. Be careful with “culture fit”—culture should evolve to let more people in it. Instead of looking for a “culture fit,” look for a “culture add,” or a candidate who will bring diverse opinions and experiences to the company’s culture.

 

Set goals and be humble

Balance strategy and tactics to keep people engaged. Be strategic, but don’t be so strategic that no one knows what you’re doing. Ensure you provide transparency, have CEO support, and have a “champion.” There’s no one way to do it right, but any movements, even baby steps, will take you in the right direction. But don’t toot your horn just because you’re better than you were before. The goal should be forward improvement, not to compare to others, or to compare to your lack of progress in the past.

 

Be yourself and learn from others

Don’t wear a mask! Think about how much energy it takes to be someone else at work just to fit in. And on the other side, learn from others. Don’t say things about someone’s culture without actually getting to know someone in the culture. Remember that we have more in common than we have differences. With proper relationships, you can avoid a diversity and inclusion crisis. When you prioritize inclusion, diversity will happen naturally because people enjoy working where they feel included.

 

Why isn’t it working?

If your company culture has not changed after implementing new practices, understand why. Nelson says it’s typically because of one or more of the following factors: fear of change, privilege, traditions, culture fit, loss of culture, or “sacred cows”—an idea or custom held (unreasonably) because it’s been ingrained in the company for a long time. There are often psychological and system barriers in place that can hurt behavioral change. Don’t be afraid of removing them.

 

One thing you can do immediately is make it mandatory to diversify candidate slates.

“It’s just like online dating,” Nelson explained. “When you open your scope of exposure, you open your culture to diversity.”

The Florida Diversity Council is a nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for diversity best practices and leadership development in Florida. The May program was part of a monthly series of events with the goal to influence leaders in the Central Florida community on what it truly means to engage diversity within company leadership.

PRSA Orlando’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee attended the program to be able to share key takeaways with chapter members, and learn how to incorporate Nelson’s advice within the public relations industry.

PRSA Orlando’s July Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s July Newsletter.

Dive into professional development this summer

by Carter Flynn, Co-VP of Membership

Summer is a great time to join PRSA! Take advantage of this special offer to help you advance your professional future.

Join PRSA now as a Regular member with promo code BACKPACK19, and you’ll also receive two valuable bonuses at no additional charge:

  • PRSA Chapter membership (up to a $100 value), and
  • a handy backpack to help you stay mobile and organized! This popular laptop backpack from Lenovo features a durable, water-repellent polyester fabric and streamlined design with a padded interior to protect your laptop, notebook and other important items.

Raise your local profile and expand your network of PR and communication colleagues with your membership in one of PRSA’s more than 110 Chapters!

Questions? Please feel free to reach out to Co-VP of Membership, Carter Flynn – cflynn@bdo.com

RESTRICTIONS: Section dues are additional. N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. Refer to http://www.prsa.org/joinus/howtojoin for details.

Things to consider when recruiting PR talent from diverse backgrounds

By Tyrone Law, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee Member

Not long ago, in an effort to elevate my career to the next level, I shifted into “job search mode” and my quest to step into a new public relations role began. After several interviews, I began to more deeply contemplate the notion that I’d only be willing to take my PR talents to an organization that embraced diversity in a dynamic way—a company whose senior leadership truly reflected diversity and inclusion.

According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, 67% of job seekers say that when evaluating companies and job offers, it is important to them that the company has a diverse workforce, and when it comes to leadership diversity, the survey showed that two in five people do not think their company has a diverse executive team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ethnic makeup of the PR industry in the U.S. is 78% Caucasian, 17% Hispanic American, 13% African-American and 6% Asian-American.

In 2019, it’s easier than ever for jobseekers to log into sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to absorb firsthand what a company’s current workforce looks like. Future talent also can effortlessly see right through companies or organizations that merely go through the “diversity and inclusion checkbox” while failing to staff a truly diverse workforce or leadership team. You know those companies that claim they “champion diversity and inclusion” because it’s all over their website, but show very little concrete evidence in support of that statement.

Staffing your top-level PR positions with a diverse mix of talent representing a multitude of different cultures, disciplines, ideals, gender, disabilities and sexual orientations, fosters campaigns that truly reflect the society in which we live. Unique perspective is invaluable. A study from global management firm Boston Consulting Group found that “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.”

Get out of your comfort zone and engage diverse communities

Collaborating with local organizations that support communities underrepresented in the PR industry, recruiting talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and networking with organizations made up of professionals with disabilities are great examples of ways companies can step out of their typical recruiting tactics and engage talent in new communities.

The PR industry certainly isn’t the worst industry in its diversity and inclusion efforts, but there are still many strides that must be made towards representation and inclusion. Recruiting diverse PR talent isn’t just a matter of morality, it affects a company’s bottom-line and evolves with the changing demographics of our audiences.

Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Candice Joseph

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship. Our second student recipient is Candice Joseph, a Fort Lauderdale resident who was born and raised in a city called Plantation. Candice is expected to graduate in May 2021. 

Why did you choose to major in communications?

I chose to major in communications because I have always been a people person, and when I joined DECA in high school and started writing advertising campaigns and competing, I knew the field of Advertising-Public Relations was a perfect fit for me.

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?

I have not completed any internships yet, but I have accepted my first one, which I will start this upcoming fall with UCF Athletics!

What would you like to do professionally?

I would love to open up my own advertising agency/ law firm and help others with their brand while providing legal protection.

Click here to read more about our first student recipient Danna Saenz.

Engaging the unengaged: Focusing on minority audiences in the tourism industry

By Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee 

Our need for exploring and adventure connects us as people, allowing us to create lasting memories. And while traveling can be stressful at times, for persons with disabilities the challenges can often feel overwhelming.

According to The World Bank, one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.

With an awareness that understanding the needs of disabled persons can result in increased visitation, Experience Kissimmee (Osceola County’s tourism authority) is leading the charge locally in promoting diversity and inclusion in their marketing and public relations efforts.

Recently, Experience Kissimmee partnered with leading accessible travel blogger Cory Lee (pictured above) from CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com, where he visited the destination and shared wheelchair accessible activities in Kissimmee–from soaring over alligators at Gatorland to exploring the town of Celebration.

Cori Powers, director of communications at Experience Kissimmee, shared with us why diversity and inclusion are crucial to the travel and hospitality industry.

Why is it important for Experience Kissimmee to promote accessible tourism?

As a destination, we promise a vacation where sunny hellos, out-of-this-world adventures, and wow-worthy experiences are always included. That promise pertains to everyone. Part of Kissimmee’s appeal is its accessibility. We put the focus on fun, so that accommodations, transportation, and access is as worry-free as possible. It’s important our messaging promotes that in Kissimmee, the entire family, no matter age, race, style, or culture, stay and play together.

Why should diversity and inclusion matter to the travel and hospitality industry?

The travel and hospitality industry needs to be representative of the population it serves. As buying power shifts, the industry needs to work to acknowledge and pivot messaging and communications efforts to fit individual audiences and needs.

How else is Experience Kissimmee featuring diversity and inclusion in their public relations efforts?

Whether we are talking to consumers, groups, event planners, event rights holders, or travel agents, our messaging is that Kissimmee is accessible. We work to educate different audiences that all are welcome here. We achieve this by promoting our partners and events that share our focus on inclusion and diversity, making it easy for us to tell that story.

As you already know, we hosted blogger and disabled traveler Cory Lee in Kissimmee. At Gatorland, he was able to zipline 350 feet through the air right over the Alligator Breeding Marsh on the Gator Gauntlet. We’ve also worked with LGBTQ influencers such as Perez Hilton, distributed a press release touting Kissimmee’s autism-friendly attractions and accommodations, and constantly showcase our hotels and vacation homes’ ability to accommodate any special needs.

We also have established local events that help promote our destination as inclusive and diverse. Experience Kissimmee sponsors PrideFest Kissimmee in June, a celebration grounded in welcoming and acknowledging the impactful contributions of our local LGBTQ community. Our area celebrates diversity through many multicultural events, such as the Caribbean Fusion Festival and the Cuban Sandwich Festival.

As public relations professionals, we need to engage a focus on minority audiences to make them our regular audience because ultimately, diversity and inclusion is something that all customers, including discerning travelers, notice and value.

PRSA Orlando’s June Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s June Newsletter.

Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship Recipient: Danna Saenz

We are pleased to announce that this year, three students at UCF will be awarded the Frank R. Stansberry Scholarship.

Over the next several months, we will introduce you to each student. First up, is Danna Saenz, a West Palm Beach native whose expected graduation date is May 2020.

Danna Saenz with immediate past PRSA president Scott McCallum.

Why did you choose to major in communications?
As a crossroads of the social sciences, communications gave me the opportunity to mix creative liberty with critical thought about human interaction and expression.

Have you completed any internships? If so, where and what was the most valuable thing you learned?
My first internship was with Treasure Box Kids, Inc. where I wrote blog posts about the ethical fashion market. I just finished my second with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. where I worked to start their first PR efforts. Both places presented the challenge of learning industry-specific language and practices, teaching me the value of flexibility, independence, and the importance of research in communication.

What would you like to do professionally?
Growing up with a privilege my parents lacked instilled in me a passion to give back. That drives me to seek PR and communications work for nonprofits and the broader public interest realm.

PRSA Orlando’s May Newsletter

Take a look at PRSA Orlando’s May Newsletter.