PR agencies are falling short of providing excellence in client service by hiring – overwhelmingly – people who look like them. Suppose I don’t look like you?

Over the past three decades I have carved out a place for Barfield PR in our industry. My company provides highest-quality services in marketing, publicity, advertising, social media and events management for our clients.  That level of client service excellence is at the heart of my company’s impressive staying-power. And, it was within the PR agency world I learned this lesson: Never settle for anything less than excellence.

My challenge to PR agency leaders, therefore, is to recognize that until you hire PR pros of color you are selling your clients short – and yourselves.  To PR pros of color, I also offer a challenge: Learn to recognize your strengths, work diligently to bring your A-game to clients, and leverage the enormous value you represent to PR agencies.

Here are my reflections on what I believe are some ways to arm both the PR agency leaders and the PR pros of color with the tools required to move our industry to a new level of excellence.

 Arming PR Pros of Color

PR professional of color, I want you — with your smart, savvy self – to know that you have so much to offer any PR agency. Do not count yourself out, but instead, count yourself in! You may not look like the person who is doing the hiring, but you come armed with tools that have no barriers.

I’m not telling you to be “super person.” I’m urging you to simply be you.  Arm yourself with confidence and assurance; be the person who gets the job done.

As an African American woman who has been in the public relations field for more than 30 years, I have learned many lessons about how to stay at the top of my game. But among the most powerful of those lessons is this one:  Learning how to leverage the enormous buying power of African-Americans.

According to a 2013 Nielson study – commissioned by the National Newspaper Publishers Association —  our nation’s 43 million African-Americans are the second largest minority, with a whopping $1.1 trillion purchasing power, by next year. As if that wasn’t enough of a force to be reckoned with, African-Americans also represent a young market: A median age of 32 and nearly half (47%) are under 35 years of age. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/african-american-consumers-are-more-relevant-than-ever.html

That’s a consumer market that American and global companies want to woo!