UNO public relations team working to bring more diversity and inclusion to their field


Kamrin Baker

Photo courtesy of UNO PRSSA Bateman Team

The Public Relations Student Society of America at the University of Nebraska at Omaha has developed its team for the annual Bateman Competition– and they’ve got their game faces on.

The Bateman Competition is an annual project that invites students in the public relations and communications sectors to compete across the country. Each year, a different client is selected, and each student team works to develop a campaign for a winning title.

This year’s client is the Public Relations Society of America Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that promotes racial and ethnic diversity in the PR field. UNO’s Bateman team’s task is to promote the Foundation’s book: “Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership” and form a campaign that speaks to its mission.

The members of UNO’s team, Okina Tran, Ameres Groves, San Juana Paramo, Philly Nevada and Maya Solarana, have worked since November to create Talk Not Talking Points, their version of a campaign aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in their field.

Ameres Groves, Philly Nevada, San Juana Paramo, Okina Tran, Maya Solarana. Photo by Kamrin Baker/the Gateway

“Talk Not Talking Points is centered around creating authentic conversation between professionals in their workplace,” Tran said. “The reason we chose the name is because diversity and inclusion should be an ongoing conversation, not just talking points when a workplace messes up and it needs to be brought to their attention.”

The campaign included a research component, where Groves, the group’s research director took the lead.

“According to Data USA, 81.5% of public relations specialists are white. This has immediate implications, one of them being the effect is has on the culture within the workplace,” Groves said. “As a black man, these statistics don’t surprise me, rather it is intriguing how we’ve gotten here.”

While the campaign dove deeply into race and ethnicity, the team also looked into other diverse characteristics, like gender, sexual orientation, age and more.

“Research shows that we can look to the mindset and approach to hiring diversity, which a lot of times is equal opportunity-focused or diversity management-focused,” Groves said. “The equal opportunity approach looks more like enforced policies such as Equal Employment Opportunity or Affirmative Action, rather than embracing diversity for what it is like when managing diversity.”

Much of Talk Not Talking Points is devoted to having authentic conversations about diversity in a way that celebrates the differences of others for what they are; not for their explicit use in the workplace.

“Sometimes it may be challenging to enact change when not properly educated on the particular subject,” Groves said. “The goal of this campaign is to help educate or further one’s education about how to incorporate diversity in the workplace, as well as create a healthy work environment for diverse voices.”

To incorporate this educational piece, Talk Not Talking Points also showcases a variety of creative assets, including posters that have quotes from diverse student leaders and a deck of cards that encourages conversations with peers on the topic of inclusion.

Photo courtesy of the UNO PRSSA Bateman Team

The Bateman Team is also responsible for presenting their research findings and campaign in multiple avenues. Their work was seen at the Nebraska PRSA Luncheon in February, as well as UNO’s annual Student Research and Creative Activity Fair. On March 5, the group will host a student-focused event that puts their campaign into action. It will include respectful dialogue and food among peers, designed to raise awareness for diversity in the workplace.

Solarana, the team’s event planner, said she has been responsible for organizing the details of the event, as well as gathering students during the making of the creative assets. Solarana said everybody she works with is on a different schedule, “so it is crucial to find a time that works best for all parties involved.”

This organization and cameraderie, Tran said, has been vital for the success of the campaign.

“Our team consists entirely of people of color,” Tran said. “That means we are the ones with firsthand experience with discrimination and feeling marginalized, so I think this campaign really means a lot to us.”

The advocacy does not stop at a certain amount of recognition, though. While the campaign will end in mid-March, Tran hopes the team’s work remains, well, a place of conversation.

“I am hoping that the PR professionals in our local area will hear us and are inspired to take the steps forward in being vectors of change,” Tran said. “If we win or place in the competition, cool, but more than anything, we want to make an impact in our community.”

Students interested in the Bateman team’s upcoming event can learn more here.