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It’s no secret that America’s cultural landscape is rapidly changing which has had a major impact on everything from the way we speak, to foods we eat. From a business standpoint, diversity has also had a major impact on how we work and how we train an ever-changing, culturally diverse workforce. The U.S. Census estimates that by the year 2050, new immigrants and their offspring will account for 83% of growth in the working-age population. Diversity has many benefits including a broader service range, multiple viewpoints, a more skilled workforce, and even lower employee turnover.
Diversity can also present unique and downright frustrating challenges like workplace hostility, resistance to change, and communication issues. If addressed properly, overcoming these obstacles can not only provide a company with new opportunities and insights, it can also help strengthen a brand from the inside out.
What happens when employers face multiple major diversity issues like language and religion? States like Minnesota and Ohio are home to many of America’s largest corporate headquarters. They are home to the nation’s largest Somolian immigrant population. For companies in these areas, both language and religion come into play, when it comes to managing their Muslim, Somali-speaking workers. Many employers are left scratching their heads as they try to strike a balance between productivity and their employees’ right to worship.
Even workers’ traditional dress requirements can come into play. Earlier this year, Diane’s Fine Desserts in Le Center, Minnesota, lost dozens of Somali workers after the company put a dress code in place that restricted female workers from wearing long skirts. Keeping the body covered is a religious custom that is strictly followed by many Muslim women however the company viewed the long dresses and skirts as a safety violation. The workers were told to either stop wearing long skirts or leave, a move that resulted in the resignation of over thirty workers who cited that the new dress code conflicted with their religious beliefs.
Employee tension and resentment from both native English-speaking employees and their non-native English-speaking counterparts is not uncommon. A major retailer in Columbus, Ohio has had difficulty managing employee relations. Native English-speaking workers have asked management to require that only English be spoken in the workplace. Many of the workers feel uncomfortable around their Somali-speaking co-workers and believe that their Somali colleagues are talking about them in their native tongue. This naturally, has angered the Somali workers, some of whom speak poor English and would find it extremely challenging to speak English for an entire shift.
The Islamic prayer call has also presented an issue for companies in this region, particularly for those whose Somali employees work primarily in production. During the Islamic prayer call, which occurs five times a day, Muslims must stop what they are doing and pray. The prayers usually last about 5-7 minutes.The prayer call has presented several issues, the first being the most obvious, production. Companies must decide how to walk the line between not infringing on employees right to worship and not letting this right interfere with the company’s bottom line.
In November, DHL management in Cincinnati created a PR nightmare for DHL after they recently fired 24 Muslim workers for praying on the job. The new head manager at that location recently made changes to the company’s flexible break policy, which allowed Muslim workers to take their break during their prayer time. DHL is currently investigating this issue but the backlash could be huge for the international shipping company.
These recent cautionary tales begs the question: What is the best way for a company to navigate these delicate diversity issues? Here are a few options:
What tips or suggestions to you have for addressing the issue of diversity in the workplace? Share them in the comments section below.
We have all asked these questions. What is Public Relations? Why should I be on social media? How can social media and public relations help my company?
If you were not introduced to social media when it first made its debut, you may only think of it as networks that people join to keep in touch with friends or upload pictures of their memories. Yes, some people do use social media networks for this purpose, but if you are a young professional or an owner of a developing company, social media may just be the answer to your prayers.
Here is a list of some of the things social media has to offer you as a professional:
– Connects the world
– Promotes you or your brand
– Spreads news
– Teaching source
– Communication tool
– Networking tool
– Populate an event
– Source for hiring and firing
Social media has the power to connect millions of people in a split second. For example, Kony2012 swept over every social media site you can think of in March of this year. The viral sharing of videos and photos were encouraged throughout friends and colleagues to help get media attraction to stop this war criminal in Uganda.
This image spread through social media like wildfire overnight and the Stop Kony 2012 video made by Invisible Children has over 93 million view just on YouTube alone.
Today, people are more likely to login to Facebook to read about worldly news then turning on the TV. Social media is famous for spreading news and promoting everything from products to campaigns over the Internet. One reason why it is so famous is because it is free. Using networks like Facebook and Twitter can shine light on you as a professional or the brand of a company.
Social media being a resource to build a brand is not something anyone can accomplish successfully. This is where the power of public relations enters.
Despite what you have heard, public relations is more then planning parties and meeting celebrities. You have to do research and communicate with people. Networking and marketing may be the most acquired skill a PR professional can have. Along with social media, the skills of public relations specialist can turn your brand into a success story. These specialists have been taught to utilize their skills to help improve the quality and promote the purpose of your brand.
If public relations professionals know the ins and outs of social media, that is a double whammy.
Here are just a few things PR professionals have the power to do:
– Social media
– Build relationships
– Deal with the media
– Community engagement
Public relations and social media can be power tools in any company or brand that wants to become successful.
Public Relations experts are optimistic that the industry will see considerable growth in 2011. Social media’s explosive evolution over the last several years and 2010’s multitude of communications calamities have highlighted public relations as a necessary management function for any company with a customer.
After a stagnant job market, it is exciting to see an optimistic outlook for the New Year.
Unfortunately, our industry has developed the reputation in some circles for being spin-doctors or flacks. I wince whenever someone mentions that I tell people what to think for a living. On some level I suppose you could look at it that way, but I prefer to think most pros let people know what is going on with their organization and let the public can decide for them what they choose to believe.
Despite naysayers, I genuinely believe that most of PR pros are trying to influence the opinion of their target publics for the betterment of society not to just make a buck.
Establishing and adhering to your own code of ethics makes you a more credible professional. Bonus: you just may like yourself a lot more too.
PRSA members are required to follow the Code of Ethics set forth by the association. Take a look if you’re curious: (http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/CodeEnglish/)
Here’s (http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=prsa-eq-quiz–2010) a quiz to help you evaluate your behavior. Take a gander to see how you measure up.
The practice of avoiding media exclusives has been a general rule in public relations for eons.
Most PR pros believe that exclusives, the act of promising one reporter sole access to a story, limits the coverage range of your pitch. But, what if that promise turned into more in-depth exposure in one large publication instead of a few mentions in several smaller ones? Is upping the value of your story to one reporter worth it in the end?
Constant news coverage and cutbacks in steady jobs in traditional media outlets over the last several years have forced journalists to hone their time management skills like never before.
Exclusives give journalists some insurance that they are going to be valued as the only source for the story and in turn the opportunity differentiates them in an oversaturated market.
Our firm came face-to-face with this issue when a local journalist told us that he was more likely to be interested in pitches if he was offered the exclusive access to a story.
Leyl Master Black, a Mashable.com contributor and Managing Director at SparkPR in San Francisco, recently predicted that more journalists that will require or request exclusive agreements for news about your company. Black suggests that the trade off might be more in-depth articles with thoroughly covered content.
We would love to hear what you have encountered in your area. To investigate this trend, we would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to participate in a poll. Click here to go straight to it. Tune in soon for a full report of our findings.
Life can be unpredictable—personally or professionally. Planning for the unknown could help relieve some of the headache should the unthinkable occur.
Recently, a client came across a personal issue that became a public relations nightmare. The business enjoyed a solid reputation as a staple for families in the community. Overnight a situation arose that rocked the foundation of their brand they spent decades refining. As an active supporter of the community with a strong following, the brand had a lot to worry about.
Like many businesses, prior to the crisis, no one within their organization had foreseen the possibility of such events. Lack of planning left them vulnerable to the elements of the media and public opinion.
Here are some wonderful tips on crisis planning from Lauren Barton’s “Crisis in Organizations II”.
1. Prepare contingency plans in advance.
2. Immediately and clearly announce internally that the only persons to speak about the crisis to the outside world are members of the crisis team.
3. Move quickly. The first hours after the crisis breaks are extremely important. Reporters often build upon the information in the first hours.
4. Use crisis management consultants (advice by objectivity of PR consultants is important, bring in specialist corporate image expertise.)
5. Give accurate and correct information. Manipulating information will backfire internally and externally.
6. When deciding upon actions, consider not only the short-term losses, but also focus on the short-term effects.
Numerous businesses love to contribute to causes for the betterment of their communities. When a successful partnership ensues, funds are raised, goals are met and warm, fuzzy feelings are felt all around. An added bonus: the partnership brings forth public relations opportunities that enable both parties to potentially receive free publicity. A win-win situation for all involved.
Sometimes, the business world and nonprofit world run into difficulties communicating due to the very structure of their organizations. To companies, time is money. The success of the campaign and profitability depends on effectiveness of planning and execution in a timely manner. While not all operations work this way consistently, these circumstances are ideal.
Nonprofit organizations often consist of many other components than just the few designated shot callers. Bureaucracy, decision by committee, tight budgets, unusual time frames and mounds of paperwork are some of the frustrations aid organizations often face when accomplishing day-to-day tasks. Due to legal implications, some situations must be handled in a manner that complies with the rules for nonprofits that differ from traditional businesses.
The secrets to a successful joint venture include common goals and flexibility.
o Ensure the organization you are planning to work with has the same ambitions for the project.
o Plan ahead and give extra time to make decisions.
o Realize several individuals will make changes if not more before edits return to you, the vendor.
o Be aware that budgets are tight. Educate your partner about cost effective alternatives that may be new to them.
o Better yet, meeting opportunities can be difficult to schedule for any organization. Schedule lunch and learns to discuss the project and show them what you do.
o Communicate to the nonprofit that you are available to discussing concerns anytime.
Colors evoke feelings. As children in art class, we learned to use reds, yellows and oranges to depict the warmed landscape in a sunny, beach day painting. Blues, greens and purples provided cool, refreshing tones of the water where children play.
More than just the sense of touch, colors elicit emotion as well. Red can make you feel excitement, energetic and passionate. Green reminds of us good luck, nature, and renewal. Blue stands for peace, trust and confidence amongst others. Yellow is reminiscent of joy, happiness, betrayal and optimism.
When crafting your online image, be conscious of the colors you choose in design. Do not select your favorite color just because you like it. Ensure it evokes the image and feelings you want your personal brand to portray to the world.
Web sites, portfolios, blogs and social networking sites are integral portals of your brand. Each platform should create the same look and feel if possible. (Some social networking sites do not allow for design modifications.) Your site starts the communication process with design before a single word is read. Conflicting color usage confuses the viewer. As in all good relationships, clear communication is key—even visually. Keep your messages consistent and future clients will thank you.
Many people are confused about what is public relations. Even the editors of Wikipedia (which could be anyone) seem to have a narrow perspective. Below is the website’s definition of the practice:
“Public Relations (or PR) is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, commercial businesses and organizations, non-profit associations or programs…”
The definition posted by Wikipedia implies that PR is only concerned with high-profile people or businesses.
Today, anyone with social media profile is practicing public relations on some level. Users are sending forth the message, “Hello cyber-world. I’m here!” with every tweet…post…update…whatever you want to call them depending on the platform like mini press releases informing their “target publics” about their activities. No matter what kinds of information people disclose about themselves, they are conducting a public relations campaign—good or bad. (A crisis communication plan may need to be implemented later, but that is a topic for another blog post.)
More and more PR professionals contact traditional journalists and influential bloggers through social media to generate buzz for their organization. Someone tweeting about their involvement in a project or interest may alert the media just as easily.
The difference between public relations professionals and the average person is that hopefully the professional has learned how to effectively manage relationships with the target audience in a positive manner. Not all truths may be perceived as good initially, but hopefully with the guidance of the skillful professional the outcome will be rosier than the starting point.
It’s not schmoozing. It’s not creating spin. A good PR pro will consult their client on the best possible way to conduct their communications regardless of the scenario.
Organizations need to be clear about what public relations is for the sake of their reputations. A name is hard to repair once damaged. It’s always easier to prevent a mess than clean it up.
For more information on what public relations is NOT, please check out this video: YOUTUBE URL.
A study by the Oriella PR Network found that approximately 75 percent of “targeted” press releases were still useful according to an article from PRNewser.
As a reminder, follow these crucial tips to ensure your press releases don’t go unnoticed.
1. Find the appropriate contact. Pinpointing the contact that will care the most about your message is vital. Journalists are pressed for time. If you send your press release to the wrong person, chances are the message you have painstakingly taken the time to craft will progress no further. If you don’t know for sure who to send it to, find out!
2. Proofread, proofread, PROOFREAD! Grammatical errors damage your credibility. We have all read an article and found a typo that leads us to question the integrity of the writer or the publication. Journalists will do the same to you if they find a press release riddled with mistakes.
3. Give them a reason to care. Sending out press releases when they aren’t warranted is another way to earn a less than desirable reputation for you or your organization. If your message has been seen before, find a way to make it relevant. When in doubt, research, research, research!
The press release’s numbers may be down from the year before, but it’s not gone. Traditional public relations practices are still pertinent to know in a world of emerging new media.