Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU and Hampton U Team Up to Host Diversity Webinar

SDSU as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Hampton U as a Historically Black College and University united to plan and execute the Broom Center's 4th annual Allen H. Center Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations.

SDSU and Hampton U Team Up to Host Diversity Webinar

4th annal Allen H. Center Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations

by Alexa Gutierrez

April 5, 2021

SAN DIEGO – While brands used to shy away from taking stands on social issues, the rules changed. To help communication professionals adapt and activate their sense of purpose, the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development of Public Relations tapped into Troy Blackwell Jr. to provide a full playbook on how to speak out for your company.

On March 11, Blackwell delivered the keynote at the Broom Center’s 4th annual Allen H. Center Distinguished Lecture in Public Relations. The webinar, co-hosted with the Public Relations Society of America, attracted registrations from 120 schools across nearly 40 states.

Given that Blackwell is PRWeek’s Most Purposeful Person Under 30, he had the resume needed to help PR professionals use their voices on behalf of their organizations and advocate toward social justice and equity.

“You are never too young to be a leader. A leader is someone who sees a challenge and takes on that challenge regardless of any status,” Blackwell said during the keynote.

Leadership such as that, according to the Broom Center, can come in any form. Companies and organizations are being called out by their employees and the people they serve to act with purpose, not just lead by example.

“Today people expect brands to take a stand,” said Kaye Sweetser, director of the Broom Center. “People want more than just a social media post. They want action, and they want to know how brands are a part of the solution.”

With Gen Z making up 20% of the U.S. population, it is important to know they want more than lip service. Data shows 67% of Gen Z are concerned that companies move onto other issues without making their promised changes regarding racial inequalities.

“By attending the lecture, we’re not only learning to be the best advocate we can be, but we’re teaching the circle of people around us how they can be advocates too,” said PR senior and Center Lecture campaign lead Gabi Romero. “When we use our voice, we teach others to use theirs too.”

That approach to “show, don’t just say” was so ingrained in the webinar that even the event planning served as a model to the industry.

An ASL interpreter and live Spanish translation reduced barriers to participate in the webinar.

To plan the event, the Broom Center tapped seniors from the senior PR capstone course at San Diego State University, which is a federally-designated Hispanic-Serving institution. Through a partnership with Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, the Broom Center grew the lecture event team by recruiting eight students from the east coast Historically Black College and University to assist in promoting the event.

“Because we planned the lecture event with support from students at SDSU and Hampton, we had an opportunity to see how diverse perspectives and backgrounds can add richness to our campaign,” said James Dunn, an SDSU PR student who managed talent and resources for the campaign.

Others on the team echoed that sentiment.

“The Broom Center’s work in diversifying the PR industry mirrors the message we heard from Blackwell at the Center Lecture,” began SDSU senior and Broom Center team member Totyana Simien. “The Broom Center isn’t just making statements about creating a more diverse industry, they are investing heavily in ways that support PR students of color. The Broom Center uses its platform to promote successful practitioners of color and develop new talent from traditionally marginalized communities.”

The webinar is archived at

The Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations improves the public relations industry through investing in the people who practice it. With programs aimed at untenured PR professors, PR students and practitioners, the Broom Center focuses on the people who will shape the industry in the coming generation. Founded in 2012, the Broom Center is housed in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. The Center takes its name from the iconic professor Dr. Glen M. Broom, who wrote Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations, which is the most used PR textbook and defined the industry.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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