Factors Affecting the Success of Under-Represented Groups in the Public Relations Profession

Frank Walton, Ph.D., City College of New York

$25,000 grant

This study addresses three concerns of the PRSA Foundation:

· A national quantitative and qualitative study focused on tracking the last 5 years of placement and retention of bachelor’s degree graduates from public relations programs who are from under-represented groups;

· A critical analysis of recruitment, retention and promotion programs for under-represented groups in public relations departments and public relations firms; and

· A national qualitative and quantitative study of the experiences, challenges and opportunities of Hispanic and African Americans who are working or have worked in public relations since 2008.

The research provides insights into common and best-practice examples – of how, and how well, public relations undergraduate programs prepare their graduates for first full-time employment in the public relations profession.

CCNY developed a list of the “leading” PR and related undergraduate programs. “Leading” will be defined by a combination of criteria most likely including high levels of involvement and activity in PRSSA, the number of undergraduates graduating annually, age and history of the department, and regional geographic prominence proximate to the major markets for public relations employment.

The research has three components:

Part One explores the placement and retention of undergraduate students and young PR professionals from 2008-2012 through in-person, open-ended interviews with student advisors.

Part Two documents prevailing practices – and best-practice examples – of significant employers of Bachelor’s degree-holding, entry-level, professionals in public relations. Interviews will be conducted with corporate, agency, non-profit and government organizations.

Part Three provides comparative perspective from young PR professionals with the points-of-view from employers and the academic leadership of the college and university programs. Focus groups will be conducted with young professionals who entered jobs in public relations between 2008 and 2010. Groups will be conducted in locations where there are concentrations of young, diverse PR professionals like New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

View the full report here.

This research was cited among the Institute for Public Relations’ Top 10 PR Research Insights for 2015. See excerpt here.