Key to Achieving Diversity in Public Relations: Fill the Pipeline with More People of Color

An interview with Kimberley & David Rudd by Fredericka Davis

By Fredericka Davis

Our conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion was held in the midst of a pandemic and during the ongoing U.S. Presidential election. Although the focus of our conversation was to gain the perspective of the featured executives viewpoint on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to touch on the possible effects of the current life events and its impact on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for the field of public relations.

The ideas start here! With over three decades of experience in writing, marketing and communication, and public relations, Kimberley Rudd leads Rudd Resources’ clients in finding their voice and tone for internal and external communications.

Kim’s background in public relations firms and brick-and-mortar retail businesses showcase her ability to craft and communicate the intentions and visions of Rudd Resources clients.

Writing, listening, and cultivating results-driven communication. As Rudd Resources’ Vice President and Senior Counselor David Rudd commits to offering clients results-driven direction and guidance. With journalism, corporate communications and public relations agency experience, David provides clients the impact and expertise of a large firm with the individuality of the Rudd Resources experience.

Let’s Talk DE&I…

The number of people of color in the field of PR (especially in senior level roles) remains low; what steps would you suggest being taken to increase awareness of the various career opportunities in PR?

D.R.: “It’s a two-way street; we need to be more creative in the way we invite people into the profession and be intentional. Also, the profession needs be creative and find ways to bring people in who are not your usual suspects.”

Educate and inform: Help young people understand the power and importance of Public Relations and how the various roles the field can determine the outcome of today’s media.

K.R.: “Pipeline. More people of color could succeed in Public Relations if more agencies helped fill the pipeline with more people of color.”

Has the pandemic (COVID-19) changed the DE&I in public relations or the way you’ve gone about business in your organization?

K.R. No, the pandemic caused a small shift early on with a few setbacks (in March) with projects being halted, but overall, the pandemic has only mildly affected our day-to-day business and certainly has affected the way we work as a team.  However, the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, which triggered a racial justice crisis affected our business. Many of our clients were asking, “What should we say? Should we do anything?” It accelerated clients’ needs to take bold stands on racial justice.

With the former President’s Executive Order regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, have any of your clients expressed concern or feedback as to how it may impact their DE&I efforts?

D.R. “The short answer is No.” We have a client that represents a company that does a lot of federal work and that client has been wrestling with the position it needs to take. Our client wanted to have an independent review of their position on Diversity Equity and Inclusion or as they call it “Racial Social Equity” with the goal of figuring out, “How do we get better at this? How are we treating our employees? Are we making sure the workplace is welcoming?” How do we get better with our supplier diversity?”. The company had a DE&I position but with the events of social injustice this past summer

We’ve had exposure to clients who are wrestling with this issue. Especially those who have a military background / training to follow orders of the Commander in Chief regardless of personal feeling and those in the same company that feel the organization should take a stand in opposition of the executive order if they’re serious about diversity, equity and Inclusion initiatives and culture in the organization.

At the end of the day the President’s executive order on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training may have an impact on our business as our clients are working out ways to message around the order and how to use the right approach to say to the outside world and their employees “We Will Stay the Course”, “We’re Committed to Diversity and Inclusion”, We’re Committed to the Fact it Makes Us Better”, We’re Committed to the Fact it Improves Our Performance as a Company”.

K.R. “This is a time from companies to put their stake in the ground and take a stand, even if it means risking funding (for those who can).”

Fredericka Davis is a second year graduate student in the DePaul University’s College of Communication Public Relations and Advertising Program. Fredericka is a 2020-2021 LAGRANT Foundation scholarship recipient. Along with being a full-time student, she is employed full-time in the financial service arena with goals to transition into public relations and advertising after graduation in Spring 2021. This is part of an ongoing series of interviews by students in Culpwrit’s DEI course at DePaul.


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