MINORITY PROFESSIONALS MAKE GAINS, BUT TENSION STILL EXISTS


Minority professionals are entering public relations at a slow, but steady rate, according to those involved with minority PR organizations. Still, the numbers are lower than many minority professionals believe they should be. Some of this is attributable to outright hiring discrimination, they contend. At the same time, minority leaders in PR are encouraging minority students to consider a PR career. "The numbers are definitely increasing," said Pat Tobin, president of the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS), and head of Tobin & Associates, Los Angeles. Said Judith Harrison, a vice president at PR executive recruiting firm, The Fry Group, New York, "I think I'm seeing more resumes [from minority professionals] come across my desk." Harrison, who also is treasurer of the New York chapter of BPRS, said she's seen a slight increase in minority hiring, although "it hasn't been articulated as a goal" by hiring corporations or PR agencies. There has been a "slight" increase in hiring at large agencies, although "it's nowhere near what it should be," said Ray Kotcher, president of Ketchum Public Relations, New York. Octavio Nuiry, who stepped down this year as president of the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) after a three-year stint, said he sees "stagnant" growth in numbers of Hispanic PR professionals. He attributes this to a lack of well-known role models for students and young professionals. Nuiry also believes that larger PR firms don't know how to find Hispanic professionals, in part because "they don't know anyone in the Hispanic community." A third group, the Southern-California-based Asian American Advertising and Public Relations Alliance (AAAPRA), has grown to about 100 members since its founding in 1992. AAAPRA also has a chapter in New York. Founder Lynne Choy Uyeda of Lynne Choy Uyeda & Associates, Los Angeles, is seeing "more interest" in the field among young Asian-Americans. She said AAAPRA receives numerous calls from students looking for PR internships. However, she said few employers looking for PR professionals contact her organization. All three minority PR organizations have programs to stimulate interest among minority college students. BRPS and HPRA have created scholarship programs which have given out thousands of dollars to minority PR students. The Multicultural Affairs Committee of the New York chapter Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has worked with the City College of New York to encourage more interest by students. Still Some Resentment Some minority professionals still believe that corporations and large firms have been unduly slow to hire minority professionals. While the situation has improved, Tobin said difficulty in finding a job with a large PR firm is what led her to launch her firm in 1982. To some larger firms' contention that they have difficulty finding minority candidates, Tobin responds, "They must not be looking. Call Pat Tobin or any member of the Black Public Relations Society" to learn where to find qualified black candidates. Uyeda said "mainstream" firms still have a tendency to try to tap into the expertise of minority firms, without hiring them. While disavowing that mainstream firms are trying to take advantage of minority firms, mainstream firm executives such as Alex Stanton, CEO of Stanton-Crenshaw Communications, New York, agree that firms like his can learn about diersity issues and marketing to various ethnic groups from minority firms. (BPRS/Tobin, 213/856-0827; Fry, 212/521-8100; Ketchum, 212/878-4602; HPRA, 714/752-7190, x 16; AAAPRA, 213/723-7198; Stanton, 212/727-3300)

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