National Black PR Society - State of the PR Industry SurveyThe National Black PR Society Inc. released a white paper at its one-day summit last week in Washington. D.C., showing that while progress has been made among black PR professionals there are still few black communicators in leadership roles where they work.

The white paper, titled “2015 State of the PR Industry: Defining & Delivering on the Promise of Diversity, generated 199 responses among PR professionals. It reminded the industry that diversity—or lack thereof—remains something of an Achilles’ Heel throughout the PR field.

Dr. Rochelle L. Ford, professor and chair, Newhouse School, Syracuse University, and Cedric Brown, research assistant, Syracuse University authored the white paper. Clarke L. Caywood, full professor, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, worked with Ford and Brown on analyzing the results.

There were four major themes to the white paper:

Blacks are found in all market segments including: corporate (20.6 percent), agency (23.8 percent), government (6.3 percent), nonprofit (12.2 percent), education (10 percent). Blacks also are well represented at mid-level positions in agencies.

However, there are still few black communicators in leadership roles where they work, the survey said. “There needs to be greater opportunities for black professionals to get access to workshops that will enable them to stay current with digital and social media technology and tools. They also want tools to help create and/or grow their businesses.”

Black practitioners are looking for assistance from the profession for networking, professional development and career advancement, particularly understanding the risks and benefits

There’s a greater need for the industry to focus its attention on enhancing vendor relations and supplier diversity, creating more subcontracting opportunities for large agencies to collaborate with small and minority owned businesses.

“There is no one root cause for the diversity crisis,” said Richelle Payne, president of NBPRS Inc., in a statement “We need a multi-layered, collaborative approach between the industry and black communicators. The time is right to position this organization as a critical partner in transforming agencies and corporations, and empowering black-owned businesses for the global opportunities of the future.”