Muck Rack

Nearly all PR pros say they are aware of diversity, equity & inclusion practices, and a large majority of them are comfortable advising clients and stakeholders on DEI issues, according to a new study from Muck Rack.

“The State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in PR,” which polled 434 public relations professionals, found that 97 percent of the survey respondents were at least “somewhat familiar” with DEI practices and 93 percent indicated that they were confident providing advice on DEI issues.

More than a third (35 percent) said that at least 20 percent of their pitches focus on DEI angles, with only 16 percent saying that none of their pitches focus on those issues.

The top DEI issue for respondents was race and ethnicity, with 78 percent calling it a high-priority topic for them, topping such issues as gender (69 percent), LGBTQI (59 percent) and people with disabilities (42 percent). Race and ethnicity was also listed as the topic that audiences cared the most about, coming in at 75 percent.

Muck Rack: The top DEI issue for respondents was race and ethnicity, with 78 percent calling it a high-priority topic

The biggest hurdles faced by PR pros when pitching stories to diverse audiences are a “lack of lived experiences” (23 percent), “lack of understanding” (13 percent) and “lack of context” (10 percent). However, 35 percent said that they don’t find pitching to diverse audiences challenging, and 10 percent said that they don’t pitch diverse audiences.

When it comes to who takes the lead on setting the tone for responses on DEI-related issues, only 13 percent said they look to leadership. Significantly more turn to mission and brand value (39 percent) or their own opinion on the “right thing to do” (35 percent) to inform their decisions.

That lack of direction from the top can also be seen in the fact that only 41 percent of respondents said that their organization allocates budgetary resources for PR toward DEI issues. In addition, more than half (53 percent) say that their organizations do not require DEI training.

However, most respondents (82 percent) still said that employees and leadership at their organizations are aligned as regards DEI values, and nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said they are optimistic about their organization's commitment toward DEI practices in 2021.

The Muck Rack study also looked at how often organizations make pitches tied to political issues, with eight percent saying they always do so, and 49 percent saying they usually or sometimes do so.

As regards the 2020 election season, 73 percent said that they had not pitched stories tied to the presidential election and 80 percent said that they did not have a contingency plan in place for the elections.

This survey was conducted in partnership with Angela Chitkara, lead researcher of The World in 2020 Project. Columbia University Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Robert Y. Shapiro served as advisor on the fielding and construction of the survey.

To see the complete study, which was conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 9, click here.