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Why are Public Relations agencies not fond of black peopleI was a keen follower of the PRISM awards which took place at the Maslow Hotel on the 6th of April 2014. According to the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA), the PRISM Awards are Africa's most sought after awards in the public relations industry. This is precisely why I had an interest in them as I value PRISA’s contribution to Public Relations in Southern Africa. Some of the top media personalities had the following to say about these awards.• Kevin Welman, Chair: PRISA Public Relations Consultants Chapter, and FleishmanHillard South Africa MD, said these were the biggest Award to date with 174 entries. This, he said, was testimony to the hard work of everyone involved in the awards and the PR agencies themselves as well as their clients. • Jeremy Maggs, said: "PR is at the centre of the communication mix today and an effective part of the communication mix." He pointed out that three years ago only seven of the top advertising agencies had a PR offering; today 19 agencies do. "This shows the importance of PR.While I commend the growth of the industry and the role these companies play in their corporate client’s PR needs, I have one major concern which I believe needs to be addressed if we are to move forward as the industry and as a country. I took the liberty to do more research on the aftermath of the 2014 awards to see who were the victors and get to know more about them. My concern was the outright dominance of white people at these awards which is in direct contrast of the race demographics in our country, while I do not have a chip on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but get a sense of skepticism as a young black male who has ambitions of being one of the best PR experts in the country.We cannot shy away from the fact that if we are to have highly skilled PR and Communication professionals in South African companies and government entities, the best place to get your work experience is at a PR agency where you work with clients from different industries. We could attribute the communication failures of some of the government entities to the fact that those in the communication department do not have PR agency experience. When viewing job vacancies for PR jobs, I have noticed how some agencies stress out the fact that they need someone with experience from a PR agency thus resulting in some of us making sure we are in line to get that experience as well. I do not believe working in Public Relations is a bread and butter issue, I believe it is for those who want to influence people’s perspectives in the modern environment. Now what could contribute to the fact that as black people we are not well represented in these agencies? Could it be the fact that having to many black people could spook out potential clients when pitching at our agency offices? Could it be the fact that black people are lazy? Could it be that white people are more effective when performing PR duties? Could it be that black people do not have the experience? Could it be the fact that a large majority of PR agencies are white owned so black people do not have the connections to get?What I know is that when a company hires it staff it always looks for those who are best capable of doing the job and what we can say right now is that white people are best at executing PR duties. If that is the case then surely as black people we need to be on par, what can be done to make sure we can execute those duties as well? What is it that white people are doing right which we are doing the complete opposite of? There are more questions than answers and if we are going to get to the bottom of this I believe there should be a platform created to cover this topic. I have absolutely no problem with race as I believe that in South Africa 2014 we should all be on par. I just wanted to get to the bottom of the problem and hopefully initiate a discussion that will see it alleviated.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Thabiso, we really appreciate the time you took to put these well written topics to a forum. From the gallery photos on biz, it looks like the event itself was quite racially representative, but maybe this is not accurate. I hope there are people in the industry qualified to address all your questions.