An Open Letter To My Fellow Communicators:

Join us for the National Summit on Anti-Racism in PR and Communications Management




You’ve blown me away.


When our small collective put out the call for communications and public relations professionals to join discussions for an anti-racism summit, we had little more than a vision. Now, that vision is becoming real: the National Summit on Anti-Racism in PR and Communications Management: It’s About Time will be held on March 22 and 23, 2021.


This outpouring of support from the many people who have joined our conversation over the past few weeks has reaffirmed one of the things I most love about this profession: it draws people who want to make the world a better place.


Take a moment, and think back to what first drew you to communications or public relations.


I can remember the moment clearly. I was working in the research department, and one day my organization’s Director of Communications suggested I come to an upcoming team meeting. At the time, I saw the communicators as change agents; the opportunity to be part of their conversation, even as a only-sort-of-invited guest, was enticing enough to tamp down my anxiety around crashing their meeting.


To everyone’s surprise, when they had their next team meeting I walked into the room and pulled a chair up at the table. I don’t recall what we discussed during that meeting, but when the next position came available, I applied.


We talk a lot in this profession about getting a seat at the table. It’s a metaphor that’s always resonated with me, particularly since I got my start when someone in a position of power invited me to pull up a chair.


But when we look around the table that is our profession, we’re missing a lot of folx. The reality is, our profession is disproportionately people like me: white, cis-gendered, able-bodied women (or those who present as such).


Based on the response to our call to action, many of you agree that we need to pull more chairs up to the table. I expect you also recognize that it’s not good enough to bring folx to the table—we need to listen and tap into people’s diverse perspectives to meaningfully influence strategy and systems.


Just imagine what we can achieve with a bigger and more inclusive table where everyone truly belongs.


Communications leaders (and yes, I mean all kinds of “leaders”, including those whose job title doesn’t spell that out) have a powerful opportunity. As the stewards of an organization’s relationships with people and communities, we combine a cross-functional approach to strategy with a central focus on the public good. Put simply, you can’t develop a sound strategy without listening, and you can’t deliver on that strategy without social licence.


To do this well, we need to ask: who are we listening to? And who is doing the listening?


There has never been a more important time for communications management and public relations. Over the last year, we witnessed a country-wide conversation about the impact of Reconciliation on resource development (or lack thereof), moved into global pandemic largely mediated through public communications, experienced a summer of deep discourse around racial justice, and went through elections in multiple jurisdictions where all of these themes were front and centre.


The thread that binds all of these conversations is communications. As a society, we use language and story to build narratives that award power to some groups and oppress others.


Many of you see the impacts of these systemic injustices every day, in the form of health, social, educational, economic, and environmental outcomes. Some of you have been aware of these injustices for your entire lives, because you live it. Others, like me, have come to this understanding through your education, your career, your own self-work, or even the events of this year.


No matter how you got here, I am glad you’re here now.


So I ask you: do you want real change? Do you want to change our profession, our organizations, our communities, our society for the better?


To realize our potential as a profession, we need to do the work in ourselves and in our profession, so that we can take that leadership role in our organizations and in our communities.


Are you up for that?


Sign up now to get notified once we open registration for the National Summit on Anti-Racism in PR and Communications Management. It’s about time.

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