Questions about BME PR Pros? No problem, here are answers to common questions.

So, what is BME PR Pros?

It’s my attempt to promote black, Asian and ethnic minority diversity in PR and comms. It’s a side hustle – a hobby that’s got a little out of control.

I pretty much manage every aspect of BME PR Pros alone and unfunded. I fund the majority of it myself and have so far spent around £13k of my own money on it.

I manage the website and the social media handles (yep, I take full responsibility for the Instagram gifs).

I developed the mentoring scheme, got PRWeek on board, secured all mentors and manage every aspect including admin. I have also organised all events and funded the first BME PR Pros event.

I am intern, FD, tea person and CEO.

For events and launches, I hand over the Twitter reigns to award-winning writer and content creator Maame Blue and Instagram to social media expert Esther Akinola.

Additional admin and project support come from Tarryn McKay and Kwey Le Marchant.

My trusted advisors are Nyree Connell, Daljit Bhurji, Ronke Lawal, Anouchka Burton, Isobel Bradshaw, Naomi Sesay, Jessica Hope and Henry Rowling.

I work full-time as a PR consultant (approx. 40+ hours a week) so the majority of my work on BME PR Pros is evenings, weekends and very early mornings (think 5am till 8am).

I know, it sounds crazy. But I am passionate about this diversity / representation thing.

I’m rooting for talented BME PR Pros to get the careers they deserve and for the sector to benefit from their talent.

So, you’re not a company? An organisation? Not a team? A business? A social enterprise?

Correct, correct, correct, correct and correct.

And who are you?

I’m a PR by day. I entered the sector in 2006 after six or so years in the charity sector managing events, campaigns, celebrity relationships and fundraising appeals.

I’ll be frank – though I’m still Elizabeth (sorry, lame joke) – I find talking about myself and my career pretty boring (even though it has been a pretty exciting ride). Also, yes, this website’s by me but I have no interest in it being about me. What I do speaks for itself. Want to know more? Google me – I’m easy to find.

Are you a diversity expert?

Nope. I’m just someone with an opinion and some ideas.

What are your thoughts on diversity?

You really want to know…? This is where I lose friends and alienate people…

Well, I think that there are some pretty crappy initiatives out there that do more harm than good. That a lot of work is tokenistic. That the D&I sector and consultants can be part of the problem. That recruitment consultants are part of the problem. That BMEs should be front and centre of BME diversity initiatives. That diversity in PR and comms isn’t a BME problem but a sector problem.

I don’t believe only people with white skin can write press releases, create creative campaigns, lead teams, run businesses etc etc.

If you don’t get BMEs applying for your jobs, then there’s a problem in your recruitment practices.

If you have a BME retention problem, then there’s something wrong with your working culture.

I could go on but if you need to know more, you can check out this PRWeek UK op piece, this interview with Clo PR’s brilliant Claudia Moselhi or, if you want to hear my gravelly, nasally voice and some bad jokes, you can hear me rant and rave on Manifest London’s Fresh Meet podcast episode on diversity.

I’d like to invite you to speak at an event / sit on a panel. Is that something you do?

It depends. On the subject, my capacity, the audience and the other panel members. I’m not interested in taking part in “why is diversity important” events or panels. I think that debate is older than my copy of Dr Dre’s The Chronic (i.e. c1992). There are numerous articles on the importance of diversity. I don’t see the point of regurgitating what’s out there and keeping the debate stuck in the 90’s.

I’m also keen to avoid creating an echo chamber. I’ve said quite a bit about diversity and I fear 1/ people suddenly thinking all BMEs think like me and are like me and 2/ becoming the “voice” of BME diversity in PR and comms. I am a voice. Not the voice. I don’t talk for anyone but myself.

Furthermore, talking about BME diversity issues can be exhausting, isolating and downright depressing and I need to look after myself. Hence a reluctance to speak at events and panels.

Still keen to invite me to speak? Drop me an email with details to: hello [at] bmeprpros [dot] co [dot] uk.

Better still, why not invite one of the amazing BME PR Pros profiled on here? Need help being introduced to them? No worries. I’m happy to make an introduction. Again, just drop me an email.

I’ve heard you’ve delivered workshops on BME PR Pros and diversity. Would you come and deliver one at our agency / company?

Sorry – not in 2019. I am working on three big initiatives: the BME PR Pros Mentoring Scheme, The Blueprint (a sector-wide initiative) and a special event.

Alongside my day job (and other commitments already outlined), I don’t have the capacity to do more.

It’s also a self-care thing. Yes, I want to make a difference, but I must also have some kind of work/life balance. In 2019 I am determined to have one day off a week and at least two evenings.

The BME work is rewarding but it can be emotionally and physically draining. Between August 2017 and April 2018, I had one day off (Christmas Day 2017). In December (2018) I pulled two all-nighters.

Working as I have done is simply not sustainable. At times it has impacted my health and wellbeing. Hence the need to establish and maintain balance in 2019 and beyond.

Can we meet for a coffee, lunch or drinks? Skype chat? I’d like to pick your brains.

I would love to, I just don’t have the capacity. Again, my views on diversity are covered in the articles and podcast interview mentioned above.

Further questions? Drop me an email with your queries and I’ll see if I can help/answer them.

Is it possible to become a corporate sponsor? A partner? Collaborate with BME PR Pros?

Not at the moment.

I’m currently working on a sector-wide initiative which – I hope – will enable companies and organisations to make a tangible difference.

However, I don’t have the capacity to take on a new project (that a collaboration or sponsorship would entail).

As for my logo? Sorry. It’s not for sale.

Can you help me recruit a BME PR Pro?

No, this isn’t a formal service I can offer right now. I share roles across the social platforms on an ad hoc basis as and when I can and for organisations I know, trust and respect.

I’m looking into a jobs board and perhaps a career event, but I can’t guarantee this will happen.

Can I volunteer with BME PR Pros?

I have a team I work with and hire when I need additional support (see answer to first question). I have no interest in exploiting BMEs, so I don’t use volunteers – I pay for additional support when I need it.

I also don’t have the capacity to manage volunteers but, more importantly, I wouldn’t ask anyone to give up their weekends or evenings for the BME work.

I should also flag, a lot of the work I do is “unsexy” admin work (e.g. coding, managing mentor enquiries, uploading content etc). Work for various reasons that I can’t “volunteer out”.

Can I be a mentor? Or an ambassador? Speak at an event?

I don’t run an ambassador scheme (again, a capacity thing) and I don’t take applications for speakers (I work with my advisors to develop events).

I don’t take applications for mentors. The BME PR Pros / PRWeek UK Mentoring Scheme mentors are nominated by mentors, mentees and long-term supporters.

This year’s mentors have been confirmed and no further mentors will be recruited. There are several organisations keen to recruit BME mentors including the Taylor Bennett Foundation and BYP Network. Keen to mentor? Do drop them a line.

So how do I support BME PR Pros? There are a lot of “nos” here.

Simple, do what you can to promote diversity in your organisation and the sector. The more initiatives? The better. More voices calling out the diversity problem? Even better.

Do what you can so that in a few years’ time BME PR Pros won’t need to exist – and I’ll be able to get some well-deserved sleep.

Any more questions?

No problem. Email: hello [at] bmeprpros [dot] co [dot] uk.

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