Carolynn Johnson, DiversityInc. [Podcast]

Carolynn Johnson, DiversityInc. [Podcast]

Moving the Diversity Needle with PRSA ICON 2020 Keynote Speaker Carolynn Johnson

Anticipation is building for the virtual PRSA ICON 2020 event, kicking off on October 26th. Last episode, PR Talk host Amy Rosenberg spoke with Del Galloway, chair of PRSA ICON 2020 and Senior Vice President of Communications for Wells Fargo. During the episode, Del gave listeners a preview of the upcoming event, along with a rundown of the keynote speakers. In this episode, we continue our ICON 2020 theme as Amy chats with Carolynn Johnson, CEO of DiversityInc and one of the keynote speakers at this year’s event.

DiversityInc

Carolynn describes DiversityInc as the preeminent source of diversity management, data and advice. The company works primarily with blue-chip companies on benchmarking and diversity best practices. DiversityInc also publishes its annual “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list, which is the gold standard in diversity measurements. During their conversation, Carolynn and Amy talk about the awards, Carolynn’s keynote presentation, and marketing’s place in diversity, equity, inclusion and representation (DEI-R).

 

How Do You Measure Diversity?

Measuring diversity is a complicated undertaking. As Carolynn explains, lots of companies brag about diversity, but as you move up the leadership ladder, representation gets much slimmer. DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list attempts to examine a company’s holistic approach to DEI-R by looking at ethnic representation at all levels and how that diversity is developed, brought along and treated fairly.

Companies can’t buy their way onto the list. Instead, they must meet specific submission requirements and share information on six different metrics, including:

  1. Human Capital Diversity Metrics
  2. Leadership Accountability
  3. Talent Programs
  4. Workplace Practices
  5. Supplier Diversity
  6. Philanthropy.

Then, the DiversityInc team analyzes and compares the data and releases their findings.

In addition to compiling their annual list, DiversityInc also offers consulting services to help organizations implement and execute their initiatives. The company also provides benchmarking services, so clients can find out where they are on their journey.

 

Data Can Drive DEI-R

This rigorous examination forms the basis of Carolynn’s ICON 2020 two-part keynote address. During her talk, Carolynn will explore the relationship between ethnic diversity, business strategy and communications performance as we navigate a world disrupted by the pandemic and social unrest.

“This isn’t about opinion or emotion,” she says. Instead, “what does the data say is the problem, and how can data lead us to a solution?”

During the second half of her address, Carolynn will moderate a panel discussion with industry leaders about continually educating ourselves about systemic injustice to bring about irreversible and sustainable change. The discussion on Diversity and Inclusion will include panel members Adriênne Bolden, CEO, Leverage Miami; Anu Saxena, Business Unit President and Global Head, Hilton, Supply Chain Management; Bill Imada, Chairman, IW Group and Esther Aguilera, President & CEO, The Latino Corporate Directors Association.

 

Marketers Can Help Move the Needle

Carolynn believes that self-reflection and ongoing education will become critical skills for professionals helping business leaders and companies navigate these difficult waters.

“As communicators, we have to hold ourselves accountable with a level of transparency and honesty that’s missing from certain communication campaigns,” she says. “We are key in how leaders show up, how they’re communicating and what we’re saying about our organizations.”

Now, more than ever, these communications decisions impact how people interact with companies. After all, what you know about a company based on what you learn from communicators tells you if you’re going to invest. These messages also give signals to people who might want to work at a company or as they’re making buying decisions.

That transparency begins by acknowledging the injustices happening in our society. Companies can’t be trusted if they’re not telling the truth about what’s happening around us. Marketers will play a crucial role in this messaging and should prepare accordingly.

“People-leaders and communicators need discernment to understand where their voices belong and how they can prepare themselves to show up right and the people we’re helping communicate show up correctly,” Carolynn says. “That’s the real work that’s going to move the needle.”

 

Register for PRSA ICON 2020 Today

Listen to the latest PR Talk episode to hear Carolynn and Amy’s entire conversation. Registration is also open for the ICON 2020 virtual event. So, sign up on the PRSA website today to hear Carolynn’s keynote address and panel discussion, and access the full slate of professional development, education and networking opportunities.

To hear future PR Talk episodes and access past interviews, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio or Spotify.

Register for PRSA ICON 2020

About the guest: Carolynn Johnson

Carolynn Johnson is the CEO of DiversityInc, a consulting firm that advises blue-chip companies on best-practices for improving their DEI. Carolynn also leads the company’s annual “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list, considered the gold standard of diversity measurement.

Carolynn has been the director of the DiversityInc Foundation for the past 10 years and is on the National Board of Directors at INROADS. Additionally, Carolynn is a Founding Board Member of the Rutgers Business School Center for Women in Business. While completing her MBA, Carolynn was an elected class officer and was a recipient of the Ted Marousas Award for Expanding the footprint of the Rutgers EMBA.

Connect and follow Carolynn on social media:

Carolynn Johnson on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Del Galloway, PRSA ICON 2020 [Podcast]

Del Galloway, PRSA ICON 2020 [Podcast]

PRSA ICON 2020 Goes Virtual and Doesn’t Miss a Beat

It’s that time of year again! PRSA ICON 2020 is right around the corner. While we’re all disappointed that we can’t gather in Nashville together as initially planned, this year’s event will take on a brand-new and exciting virtual format that will still deliver plenty of opportunities for learning and networking. The event kicks off on October 26th and runs through October 29th. You can purchase tickets by registering on the PRSA website.

In this episode of the PR Talk podcast, host Amy Rosenberg chats with Del Galloway, the chair of PRSA ICON, and a Senior Vice President of Communications for Wells Fargo. During their conversation, Del offers a rundown of this year’s conference theme and a few of the exciting speakers lined up to share. While the event may be virtual, PRSA has gone all-out to make this conference relevant and valuable during a critical time in our profession’s history.

 

Pandemic Disinformation, First Amendment Freedoms, and DEI-R

The theme for this year’s conference is A World Disrupted. As Del explains during his interview, PRSA designed this conference to address the critical issues communications experts face in this historic moment: pandemic disinformation, our First Amendment freedoms, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation issues.

Over four days, PRSA ICON will present five general session speakers covering aspects of the three conference themes. Day one features Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham who will provide “reasoned and seasoned” insight into what’s happening in our country.

On day two, DiversityInc CEO Carolynn Johnson talks about diversity, equity, inclusion and representation and will also moderate a more extensive discussion.

Day three is a double-dose of disinformation featuring Nina Jankowicz, a Disinformation Fellow at the Wilson Center, who will talk about disinformation through a political lens. We’ll also hear from Lata Nott, the Executive Director of the First Amendment Center at the Freedom Forum, who will explain how four of the five amendments relate directly to our PR practices.

The conference wraps up on Thursday, with Peabody, Polk and Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Laurie Garrett. She’ll help place PRs as critical communicators struggling to provide factual information in the face of media chaos.

 

 

Skill Building and Socializing

In addition to these five stellar speakers, PRSA ICON attendees can also participate in more than 50 professional development breakout sessions. These smaller gatherings will offer deeper dives into how we can execute on the big ideas the general session speakers present.

Conference planners also understand the importance of socializing and networking during these gatherings. Attendees have the option of participating in three virtual lounges. One, called A Taste of Nashville, features a mixologist from Jack Daniels, who will teach participants how to make specialty cocktails. PRSSA, the PRSA student group, will have dancing and other fun activities in its lounge. Nashville author and musician Alice Randall will also host an evening workshop on storytelling through music. So, as usual, PRSA ICON will be a place for both fun and learning.

 

Check Your Email for a Sneak Preview

Because this virtual format is so new, Del and the PRSA ICON organizers wanted to provide a sneak preview of the technology they’ll be using to present this year’s speakers. PRSA members should watch their email for a link to preview 6Connex, the technology that will bring this event to all attendees. This is more than a Zoom meeting. Not only can attendees participate in general and breakout sessions, but they’ll also be able to connect in smaller groups via virtual lounges. This feature preserves the all-important connection opportunities many people miss with virtual conferences.

 

Hear More from Del and the PR Talk Podcast

If you’d like to attend PRSA ICON 2020, you can register for the event on the PRSA website. PRSA Oregon sponsors the PR Talk podcast, so we’re well aware of the wonderful work this organization does for our industry. Even in its new virtual format, PRSA ICON will do the same.

To hear future PR Talk episodes and access past interviews, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeart Radio or Spotify.

About the guest: Del Galloway

Del Galloway is a public relations executive with proven success building brands, strengthening reputations and driving results for Fortune 500 companies and other global organizations — from AT&T and United Way to Wells Fargo. Del’s understanding of relationships, his focus on reputations and his ability to convey the right messages at the right time have made him a trusted advisor to clients worldwide.

Connect and follow Del on social media:

Del Galloway on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

COVID-19 PR Update with Marvin Stockwell [Podcast]

COVID-19 PR Update with Marvin Stockwell [Podcast]

The Power of the Pause

COVID-19 PR Round Two: Marvin Stockwell’s PR Update and Wisdom for Any Situation

Marvin Stockwell comes back to PR Talk to give us an update on COVID-19 PR. We spoke with him way back in March, which feels like ages ago because it was before we even knew how big of an impact COVID-19 was going to make.

Marvin’s update on what he and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been doing since March further deepens the initial advice he gave when I somewhat surprised him by asking how to handle PR during the early days of the coronavirus. His suggestion then was to slow waaaay down and refrain from overreaching with pitches that aggressively tie into an epidemic when your story or client wouldn’t have an obvious reason to do so.

In round two, Marvin gives us more insight into the necessary pause taken by St. Jude and also outlines how they got back into the PR pitching game upon feeling more comfortable.

Asking and Answering an Important Question

To explain the purpose of the pause, Marvin uses an old PR maxim that can be posed during a crisis:

“What would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to do in a situation like this?”

In customizing this question for the coronavirus, we can ask:

“How would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to conduct itself during this pandemic and how can my organization be helpful and useful?”

St. Jude took a necessary pause to ask and answer these questions before moving forward blindly. 

 

The Advantage of PR’s Flexibility

While believing it was a great strategy, Marvin recognized how hard pausing was for a “swing for the fences PR guy like me,” who is used to making things happen. Even though it was just a few weeks, it felt like ages to him!

In all reality, “PR is the most flexible, nimble and agile sub-disciplines of marketing,” said Marvin, noting that this hallmark strength of PR puts us at an advantage over other marketing categories. For example, the advertising department may have spent bundles on creative for an ad campaign that is no longer relevant.

 

Getting Back in the Game

Once that comfort level was established, allowing St. Jude to be helpful to the conversation without overstating or conflating their expertise, it was go-time for Marvin and his PR team. He gives us some examples of how he was able to pitch stories that were related to the pandemic. 

Starting with a softer story to ease out of the gate, the PR team pitched a coloring book created by St. Jude that checked all of their boxes in terms of mission and purpose, while also meeting that helpful and useful note for kids, teens — and their parents — during the coronavirus. PR Talk parents can download the Coloring Book here

The next level PR work was releasing St. Jude Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer a global study on how the coronavirus affects children with cancer. 

The highest level of science PR work will be executed when the team gets to reveal what the data is telling experts.

 

Reflection During Social Crises

When I brought up the social justice uprising, asking how that affects our role as PR practitioners, Marvin responded with the PR framing question again:

“What would a reasonable person expect a responsible organization to do in a situation like this?”

Since I interviewed him right at the brink of the protests, I mentioned the discomfort that so many feel related to the magnitude of companies putting out statements, some sincere, some not. 

“The people who are getting it wrong are the ones that are so keen on rushing a statement out,” Marvin said in response. 

We think this wise advice is a great place to stop and reflect on our actions with the press, with our colleagues and with our clients. In this time when we are hit with two world pandemics, it’s important to think before acting and know that in the end we are just doing our jobs. 

While our jobs as PR professionals are sometimes hard and confusing, PR Talk covers the type of first-world problems that we are privileged to move through.

About the guest: Marvin Stockwell

Marvin Stockwell is the director of media relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the creator of his own passion project, Champions of the Lost Causes blog, podcast and soon to be book!

Listen to Marvin’s initial thoughts from March on how to manage COVID-19 PR, along with his general insight on the special nuances that Science PR can bring.

Marvin originally appeared on PR Talk in a compilation of interviews conducted at PRSA’s ICON 2020.

Connect and follow Marvin on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Multicultural Marketing with Alexis Davis Smith [Podcast]

Multicultural Marketing with Alexis Davis Smith [Podcast]

It Shouldn’t Take a National Uprising: Alexis Davis Smith on Multicultural Marketing

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks in the United States. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police unleashed weeks of street protests and have caused many Americans to reflect on the role they play in perpetuating racism and inequality. This unrest and collective soul-searching have also reached the business world. Major brands across the country are now taking a hard look at their internal practices and realizing they’ve come up short in their inclusion and outreach efforts towards minority communities.

In this episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg chats with Alexis Davis Smith, CEO, and president of PRecise Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. Alexis and her firm specialize in connecting leading consumer brands with multicultural consumers, focusing on African American and Latinx consumers. As a Black woman, with over twenty years of multicultural marketing expertise, Alexis offers unique insight into how companies should approach this historic moment.

An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Alexis began her career at Ketchum PR in Atlanta, working with well-known brands like Delta, Nokia, and BellSouth. During her tenure, Alexis was also a founding member of the African American Markets Group, the first in-house multicultural team created by an international PR agency.

In 1999, Alexis left Ketchum to launch PRecise Communications because she wanted to practice PR on her terms. Although she initially planned on being a solo practitioner, her company grew quickly. Today, PRecise Communications provides strategic multicultural marketing counsel to brands like Toyota.

 

The Case for Multicultural Marketing

Too many brands treat multicultural communities as a marketing afterthought, or worse, ignore them altogether. However, the work Alexis has done proves there’s a strong business case for engaging multicultural communities. African Americans have $1.3 trillion in buying power alone, and by reaching out in the right ways, minority groups can drive profit, sales, and growth.

However, successful companies need to be doing more than just marketing to multicultural communities. Instead, they should be leading the fight to address racial inequity.

As Alexis pointed out, it shouldn’t take a national uprising for corporate America to want to step in and address societal and political issues. It’s simply the right thing to do. A critical part of leading in this area is for companies to examine how they promote diversity and inclusion throughout their organization. Companies that drag their feet will be challenged in the marketplace by consumers who increasingly make buying decisions based on how organizations interact with the community. It won’t be just about what these companies say, either. Consumers will also be making buying decisions based on what’s happening within a company.

 

Multicultural Marketing vs. D&I

This led Amy and Alexis to discuss the crucial differences between multicultural marketing and diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. As Alexis explained it, multicultural marketing focuses on consumers and external stakeholders, while D&I is about a company’s internal audience as well as recruiting and retaining. Both approaches are very important, and there is some natural overlap between the two focus areas. That’s why, over the last few years, PRecise has moved into the D&I space, to advise on rules and best practices.

Amy added that she believes external marketing is talk. While companies that are doing the real internal D&I work are walking the walk. As this issue continues to grow in importance in the culture and for consumers, Amy believes PRs need to flag D&I as a PR issue.

Towards the end of their talk, Alexis reminds us that the United States of America has a rich history of oppression, and for many people, those experiences are not that old. Corporate America is a microcosm of the country at large, so people bring their biases into the office with them every day. D&I and multicultural marketing are about being courageous and stepping out of our comfort zones to find something new and better that we might have otherwise missed.

For marketing and communications professionals, these issues should be at the forefront of their work. Alexis reminds us that if you understand your client’s consumer face and recognize that they’re not 100% caucasian, but your marketing strategies don’t include a nuanced approach to addressing those issues, then you’re not doing your job.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the PR Talk podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Spotify. There’s more great content on the way that you won’t want to miss.

 

More From Our Guest

Listen to the entire episode for the full conversation between Amy and Alexis, including Alexis’ career advice for young, multicultural PR professionals. If you’d like to hear more from Alexis, subscribe to her podcast, Culture & Convos. In upcoming episodes, Alexis will cover the intersection between politics and black consumers. Follow @precisecommAtl on Instagram for more information.

About the guest: Alexis Davis Smith

Building on more than 25 years of experience, Alexis Davis Smith has established a reputation as a respected communications strategist and leader in the PR industry. She is president and CEO of PRecise Communications, a 20-year-old, award-winning Atlanta-based marketing communications agency.

Connect and follow Alexis on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Lauren Reed: The Coronavirus Pivot [Podcast]

Lauren Reed: The Coronavirus Pivot [Podcast]

How a Consumer-facing PR Agency Pivoted During Coronavirus

PR teams are at an advantage right now, putting our delicate messaging and story-telling skills to use. 

You may not think that now is the best time for a small PR agency to change direction, but that is exactly what REED Public Relations had to do. As stay home orders were given, so were requests to pause or cancel campaigns at Lauren’s firm. So in response, Lauren set up a free COVID-19 Hotline to help. In turn, even though her new office sits vacant, her firm had its best April ever.

Free PR Hotline

Did you read the New York Times article calling out a new PR pro for sending an inappropriate pitch? In addition to the chastising of one PR pro, the author also gave kudos to Lauren’s PR hotline.

The hotline was part of a pivot from the agency to provide value during a tough time. In addition to answering lots of PR related questions, hotline callers get a free consultation and mini-marketing plan.

As the country was entering the pandemic Lauren asked herself what industry could her firm really help? Based on their connections, experience and a huge need, she landed on senior living. By providing value from the hotline and free consultation, they are now helping several senior living facilities.

 

What should we be pitching right now?

Lauren says that now is not the time for your typical PR campaign. It is not the time for the hard sell, but that we should simply be available as a resource. Consumer accounts need to communicate how they are open for business and how they’ll keep everyone healthy. Pointing out that differentiating and branding doesn’t matter right now, the only thing that people want to know is how you are going to safely do business with them.

 

She tells PR pros that we can’t ignore the pandemic, but she also warns us not to over-capitalize through any pitching we might do that is tied to COVID-19. She adds that PR is actually positioned perfectly during times of crisis as we are used to taking delicate messaging and telling a storyputting us at an advantage.

Lauren ends her interview with her top discovery from the past couple of months:

“I knew I had a good team, a decent team…I didn’t know I had an all-star team until now.”

About the guest: Lauren Reed

Lauren Reed is the president and founder of Reed Public Relations in Nashville, TN. She is a professional with a passion for delivering top-notch results. Experienced creating and directing award-winning public relations campaigns that build and protect brands. Lauren is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, president of PRSA Nashville and recipient of the PRSA Nashville 2011 Mercury Award, which recognizes the market’s top young PR professional.

Connect and follow Lauren and Reed PR on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

COVID-19: Marvin Stockwell: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital [Podcast]

COVID-19: Marvin Stockwell: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital [Podcast]

Coronavirus PR Management & Insights into Science PR

A Special Episode with Marvin Stockwell, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Only another PR person would drop what they are doing to help other PR people during what must be a very busy time. That’s why I love our community of giving, helpful PR friends around the globe. Today I got on the phone with Marvin Stockwell, Director of Media Relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

You might remember him from my PRSA ICON episode where I recapped a few of the sessions in a series of mini interviews. In his portion, Marvin recounted his experience participating in Pitch Tank, the PR person’s version of Shark Tank, where he pitched three PR ideas to a panel of media judges to land on St. Jude’s new nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer as the winning PR idea.  

 

Managing Covid-19 PR

But before catching up with him on how his spectrometer pitching has been going, we handled the most important order of business for many PR people: management of coronavirus communications whether that is handling unwanted media inquiries around the topic or leveraging the illness as a proactive PR opportunity. 

After giving an update on what’s happening within his media markets with Covid-19, Marvin filled us in on how his team is approaching the epidemic and offers advice for PR professionals. For those of us who fall under the eager, maximizer category, Marvin’s advice may take you by surprise. You may have to operate out of your comfort zone and slooooow way down.

Science PR’s Special Nuances 

We then segwayed into the general topic of science PR. Along with being a hospital helping countless children and families, St. Jude is a research institution that pushes out tons of fascinating findings and data.

Marvin discussed the challenges of positioning scientific research, seemingly only meant for the trades, to mainstream consumer press offering key advice on how to go about it. We touched on how science can get lost behind the more compelling fundraising messaging, including how and why to get around this. We also learned how his team uncovers the wealth of information from his researchers and faculty, managing information-overload with a media relations department structured into “beats” the same way journalists are organized.

Overall, it appears that we truly are in the “long game” when it comes to science PR, with the discoveries of today possibly curing illnesses years, maybe decades, into the future. That’s why keeping our eye on news coming out of St. Jude years down the road will be facincating.

About the guest: Marvin Stockwell

As the director of media relations at St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, Marvin Stockwell is at his best when making a case for causes he believes in and collaborating with others in his beloved hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Connect and follow Marvin on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.