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What Agencies Can Do—Right Now

March 25, 2022

Ad Industry,DEI,Events,News,Public Relations,RAF,Recaps,Rochester,Speakers

Dear Rochester Advertising Agencies, 

The ball is in your court. Especially for those who lead their companies and have networks that reach various individuals in our community. There’s a sh!t ton of DEI work to be done. 

And many of you heard it firsthand during Black History Month when we gathered three insightful panelists and one inquisitive moderator to celebrate the contributions of Black PR leaders at the local level. We covered topics around:

💼 Reimagining employment

📊 The need to engage Black consultants to support and—better yet—lead diverse projects and scopes of work

💪🏾 The importance of committing resources to help widen the lens 

📣 The ongoing need for consistent advocacy around reimagining employment

ICYMI, we gathered some key takeaways you can begin working on in the immediate and near future:

  • Expand Your Circle. 40% of Rochester is Black! If your networks aren’t overlapping with Black people, then that’s kind of a big deal. Invite Black people into your circle and attend events you don’t usually go to. Which leads us to our next point …
  • Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable. How often are you the minority—at work, networking events, restaurants, public spaces, and more? Black people do this every damn day. It’s time to put yourself in their shoes. 
  • It’s Smart To Step Aside. Rightfully so, having a certain amount of diversity is sometimes required for RFPs. Instead of out-sourcing or partnering with Black-owned companies (and giving them their required 2% of the pie), why not pass the RFP directly to them—especially if they’re equally or more qualified for it—and give them a 100% shot at the work? Especially if the target market for the project/message is POC, they’ll do it much better than you.
  • Don’t Keep DEI On Its Own Island. Stop having diversity, equity, and inclusion as its own special, separate thing. It needs to be implemented into every effort, every initiative. It’s not a solo side project. 
  • Stop Making Excuses. Whether it’s time, money, ‘I don’t know anyone,’ it’s too much effort, etc., this is 2022. The ideas above are not new. 

To make life even more convenient for our membership organizations, you can find the panelists’ information below. They’d LOVE to hear from you!

  • Jessica Lewis 
      • CEO, LáLew Public Relations 
      • Specialties: PR, marketing, branding, writing, media relations, social media, and website management
      • LinkedIn  |  Website
  • Rashad Smith 
      • Creative Communications Consultant 
      • Specialties: media, branding, marketing, advertising, and community engagement
      • LinkedIn  |  Website
  • Tiana Mañón
    • Owner, Mañón Media Management 
    • Specialties: writing, editing, content strategy, media, branding, marketing, media coverage, and public speaking
    • LinkedIn  |  Website


Stay tuned for continued dialogue and future partnerships with other local organizations. Up next, we hope to hear from you (our local agency leaders) about how you plan to address some of these key themes we shared. 


Jill Duff

RAF First Vice President