PR Vet Plans Hunger Strike to Protest Industry’s Lack of Diversity


First, the indisputable fact: PR has a diversity problem. This is not breaking news.

PRSA and other organizations have long attempted to encourage greater diversity within the industry via various outreach and education programs, but as MWW SVP and PRSA national chair Joe Cohen told PR Week, “It’s no secret that ethnic and racial minorities are underrepresented…the actual numbers are staggering.”

One guru, however, has chosen to take action: today we received a release from Mike Paul—better known as The Reputation Doctor—announcing his plans to stage a two-day hunger strike protesting the lack of diversity in “PR Firms, Advertising Firms & Corporate Communications Divisions of Leading Corporations.”

Paul, who most recently spoke to The Today Show about Justin Bieber’s reputation problems, told O’Dywer’s that he’s “increasingly approached by well qualified minority executives” who can’t find good communications jobs.

In the release, he writes:

“I’ll be fasting, praying and in meditation w no food for 2 days Feb 12 and Feb 13 to bring attention to the crisis…The track record for 50 years is horrible.”

He also clarifies that the fast won’t be about winning more attention for himself:

“This is not for me. I am an entrepreneur and happy being one now for 20 years. However, I did start my career at two of the largest global PR firms and a major global corporation.

This fast is for all those younger, middle level and senior professionals of color in PR, corporate communications and advertising who deserve someone to stand up for them…I found that solely talking about this issue now for 25 years has not brought change.”

Paul also scheduled the fast to coincide with Black History Month. His goal is to encourage a direct conversation between execs and himself (along with other leaders of color within the industry):

“I am asking global PR firms, advertising firms and global corporations to meet with me to establish true solutions to this crisis. I am willing to sit down with leaders in PR, advertising and corporations willing to make change. But true change in real numbers has to come and come soon. It is time to walk the walk.”

We’ll bring you more from industry experts and insiders on this issue, but for now we’ll open the conversation: what do we think of Paul’s fast? And what should the industry do to increase diversity within its ranks?

[Pic via MGP & Associates]

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.