Cone Communications has taken a proactive approach to highlight and improve diversity in public relations. The agency’s Diversity Inclusion Committee takes a multi-faceted approach to address the issue. In addition to seeking greater diversity among full-time Cone employees, the agency is also cultivating a more diverse pool beginning with high school students.
Through a partnership with the Boston Collegiate Charter School, in Dorchester, MA, Cone helps train a multi-cultural group of high school students through mock interview skills to assist them with future employment opportunities. Those that express an interest in PR have an opportunity to apply for a two week job shadow to further enhance their talents and increase their exposure to the profession.
- Mock interviews with high school students teach them the basics of an interview: what to wear, how to shake hands, what questions to ask, etc.
- The relationship with the Boston Collegiate Charter School provides a host of students with various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds to guarantee a diverse group.
- Those high school students who express an interest in PR are offered a two week job shadowing with an employee at Cone.
For college students who seek an internship or eventually full-time employment in the PR industry, Cone developed the PR Career Boost event. This is a competition where students are placed into groups, each with a Cone mentor, and together they create and pitch a Cone executive with a mock proposal. It is an opportunity for active learning and engagement in PR. Cone offers the students who participate in the PR Career Boost the opportunity to interview for an internship for a semester.
- PR Career Boost aims to make a lasting relationship with college students through networking.
- Cultural groups, GLBTQ, and disabled student groups are all contacted at various Boston colleges by Diversity Inclusion Committee members to promote the event.
- A Cone professional is included in each group during the competition to guide the students.
- All those who participate in PR Career Boost have the opportunity to interview and network with Cone.
- The number of participants has increased each time from five, to twenty-five, to thirty-five.
Through the PR Career Boost, Cone has hired two interns and has seen the number of participants rise in each competition. Cone holds the event three times a year and reaches out to many of the Boston-area schools to join.
Cone’s strategy to increase diversity begins with those entering the job market for the first time. By targeting high school and college students, Cone’s programs foster an interest in PR and provide an opportunity for the participants to continue that path. This results in a more diverse intern pool and eventually account staff.