PR: No diversity training

“Public relations professionals rarely receive diversity education in preparation to enter the public relations field.”

– Elizabeth Toth, Institute for Public Relations, 2009; “Diversity and Public Relations

Given how many PR crises are caused by disagreements of gender, sexuality, race, and other diversity issues, why are public relations professionals not better educated and prepared to handle them?

As a recent graduate, I can attest to Toth’s statement.  Don’t get me wrong, I value my education and feel prepared to enter the work force, but aside from a couple case studies and a couple of ethics stories here and there, there wasn’t a class titled “Handling Diversity in PR”.

This bothers me.

Just for fun, I browsed the Public Relations Society of America’s “Learning” page of it’s website.  Yeah, I know. If this is fun to me, I really need to get out more.

Anyway, an overwhelming majority of all available training classes offered by the PRSA had to do with writing or social media.  A few titles sounded like they might have something to do with diversity training, but I couldn’t find one course listed that had the word diversity in its description.

This also bothers me.

In all fairness, the PRSA website does have a whole page dedicated to diversity.

But, again, there is very little on this page that talks about educational opportunities in regard to diversity.

The PRSA’s “Diversity Video” talks about how PR is a good career for diverse people to get into, but does not say how we’re trained to handle PR situations when diversity is in play.


In a time when a crisis could erupt at a moments notice, like it did for MAC cosmetics recently, the news is filled with stories about disagreements over diversity issues, and we are an industry that is global, shouldn’t we receive better training on how to deal with diversity? 

Up for Discussion:

  • Do you think that colleges and universities with PR programs develop courses that solely address diversity issues?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea for all PR pros to take diversity training courses?
  • If you’re a PR pro, how well are you prepared to handle a crisis regarding diversity?


As usual, all respectful and constructive dialogue is welcome and needed.




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