Students Inspire PR Industry to Stand Up for Social Justice

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Discussing social issues, activating a sense of purpose and teaching practitioners how their organizations can make a stand: that was the playbook for the spring 2021 capstone campaign shared by public relations students at San Diego State University and Hampton University.

To plan the 4th annual Allen H. Center Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations, the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations took an unprecedented approach by bringing together students more than 3,000 miles apart. Students from SDSU, which is a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution, worked in partnership with peers from Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, an HBCU, to plan the event. Though the students spanned six time zones, they worked together in an agency setting to plan and host the lecture.

“Because we planned the lecture with support from students at SDSU and Hampton, we had an opportunity to see how diverse perspectives and backgrounds can add richness to our campaign,” said James Dunn, an SDSU PR student who managed talent and resources for the campaign.

The campaign focused the annual event on inspiring Gen Z public relations students to take a stand. Troy Blackwell, Jr. delivered the keynote address, which was held via webinar due to COVID restrictions.

“The Broom Center’s work in diversifying the PR industry mirrors the message we heard from Blackwell at the Center Lecture,” said SDSU senior and Broom Center logistics lead Totyana Simien. “The Broom Center isn’t just making statements about creating a more diverse industry, they are investing heavily in ways that support PR students of color. The Broom Center uses its platform to promote successful practitioners of color and develop new talent from traditionally marginalized communities.”

The lecture was a partnership with national Public Relations Student Society of America, and attracted 416 registrants. The webinar event attracted college students from 120 schools across 37 states.

“The boost of registrants we had in 2021, compared to past Center Lectures, was overwhelming in the best way. It was so rewarding to achieve this growth, not to mention this was during a pandemic,” said Broom Center research lead Daniella Rodiles.

“This campaign has taught us that we are never too young to be leaders. We learned to take on challenges when we see one, regardless of any status. We’re not only learning to be the best advocate we can be, but we’re teaching the circle of people around us how they can be advocates too,” said PR senior and Broom Center campaign lead Gabriela Romero. “When we use our voice, we teach others to use theirs too.”

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