How Reading Diverse Voices Can Help You as a PR Professional

April 3, 2024

There are more diverse voices in media than ever before, yet when taking a snapshot of the PR profession, our industry comes up short in measuring up with the larger consumer audience. In fact, in 2023 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 81.4% of public relations specialists identify as white, 12.2% identify as Black, 2.4% identify as Asian and 11.9% identify as Latino or Hispanic. The journalists we interact with are also a largely white-identifying group. According to a 2023 Pew research study, 76% of all reporting journalists identified as white, while 8% identified as Hispanic, 6% as Black and 3% as Asian. 

I began my career in PR aware that I would be in the minority as a Venezuelan-American woman, and as I’ve continued to progress in this field, the need to amplify minority voices has only grown in my eyes due to our profession being historically white. While others might not see the same need, it should be noted that PRSA highlights diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts as an important aspect of PR. PRSA even created a DEI toolkit with various resources geared toward helping PR professionals become better educated about underserved populations. In my own journey of personal and professional growth, I found that one of the best ways to understand those with different backgrounds than me is by reading. 

For that reason, I created a book list of award-winning and nominated books by authors of color. I set out to create this resource for those at Bospar who have a shared love of reading with the aim of introducing minority narratives. But besides being educational, how can these books help PR practitioners and others working on public relations in a professional sense?

Empathy helps PR pros make more connections

A study on reading done by researchers for The New School for Social Research found that reading has all types of benefits, from stress relief to improving theory of mind, and has “the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires…Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies.”

Understanding the mental states of others is not only a skill to be used in our personal lives. It is essential to being a well-rounded business professional. Empathy, in other words, can empower you in making connections with those you might not have been able to previously. 

Reading can improve emotional intelligence

Many of the books in the list are literary fiction, which might be a surprise considering that I mentioned this list is useful for professional development. But interestingly, research cited in Harvard Business Review suggests that while nonfiction is certainly valuable for gaining knowledge, it does little to develop emotional intelligence.

However, literary fiction can open our minds, and the workplace benefits when that happens and employees improve their EQ.

Books can also spark PR pros’ creativity 

Novels can also enable readers to comprehend other people’s motivations, which is quite the superpower. It creates a more understanding workplace dynamic. 

It also can help people think outside the box. Creativity is essential in PR, a profession in which you must find new angles every day to pitch more reporters and develop authentic angles for clients. That skill is also necessary for branching out and working with diverse communities.

And they can bring more authenticity to our work

In February, Bospar had the opportunity to hear from Shaun Saunders, founder of Graffiti Creative Group. He spoke about how honoring Black history and valuing diverse cultures should be a year-round endeavor in our profession. He also said what could make us stand out as PR professionals is branching out from the calendar hook mentality and asking ourselves whether what we’re pitching has authenticity. Can we connect the pitch to a movement and/or data? 

Authenticity can only come from a regular stream of exposing yourself to diverse stories. I feel lucky to work alongside wonderful colleagues who share a similar desire to lift diverse voices and learn from them. In Bospar’s book club last month, for example, we read Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot. During our meeting, we talked about what we learned from the experiences of Black women in the book and realized things we had never even considered before. The discovery of another person’s reality was very impactful, and I think about how my actions affect those around me in my day-to-day life while at work and at home. I also recognized an influx of new ideas and a desire to expand my network. 

Take another step in your professional development. Make room in your life  to read diverse voices. Lucky for you, this can be fun. Dive into any book in any genre you’re interested in. 

Need a little help to get started? Use our book list – with our shortened versions of summaries from Goodreads – to start your journey into the wonderful world of diverse narratives.

Award-Winning and Nominated Books by Authors of Color


Fantasy & Sci Fic

Mystery and Horror

Historical Fiction


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About the author

Rebecca Agurto is an Assistant Account Executive at Bospar. She specializes in consumer and B2B healthcare and AI tech. Rebecca is a native Texan, and currently resides in Utah where you can find her rock climbing with her husband or cozying up on the couch with the latest historical fiction novel.