Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week on the PRmoment podcast, in the latest of our life stories series, I’m pleased to welcome co-founder and CEO of Diffusion Daljit Bhurji.
Diffusion was established 11 years ago and has a turnover of £5m and employes 60 people - 30 in London and 30 in the US, with offices in New York and more recently LA.
It has a range of consumer, travel and technology clients. From about 26 minutes onwards, Daljit has some interesting things to say about diversity in public relations.
[00:01:14] How starting his career as part of a startup agency meant Daljit always wanted to own his own business.
[00:03:10] What it was about Ivan Ristic's and Daljit's friendship that meant they trusted each other sufficiently to go into business together.
[00:03:27] How Daljit ended up starting a business with one of his best friends.
[00:04:22] Why Daljit stared Diffusion at the age of just 27.
[00:05:44] How Diffusion launched just after the Northern Rock scandal at the height of what became The Great Recession.
[00:06:17] How Diffusion planned to work with startups at launch, but ended up working for Primark and L'Oreal.
[00:09:54] Why it is that some agencies have created so many PR entrepreneurs.
[00:13:25] How over-servicing is contributing to stress and mental health issues in communications.
[00:13:32] Why the agency model needs to be governed by processes that makes the transaction between “what clients are paying and how much time you're having to devote and the value of those outputs as clear as possible.”
[00:14:08] What agencies need to do create a positive environment for employees to thrive, be confident, creative and serve client requirements.
[00:15:18] How the work of successful modern PR firms is about increasing the business value of clients, not about doubling the size of your coverage or doubling the size of your instagram account.
[00:16:35] How Diffusion was part of a British wave of independent PR firms that attempted launch in the US around 2012.
[00:16:52] How Daljit and Ivan have built a business in the US.
[00:17:24] How the media landscape and client expectations are fundamentally different in the US to the UK.
[00:19:52] Why it is probably easier for a British tech PR firm to launch in America than a British consumer PR firm.
[00:21:49] What Daljit and Ivan have learnt from launching Diffusion in the US.
[00:22:27] Why Daljit and Ivan always wanted to develop Diffusion at their own pace and retain its independence - they didn't want to be part of someone else's five-year investment cycle.
[00:23:47] Why Diffusion decided to set up a Los Angeles office last year.
[00:26:32] As a successful Asian man who runs his own thriving PR, why does Daljit believe there are not more senior BAME people working in communications?
[00:26:41] Why diversity in the PR industry such a big problem for the sector.
[00:26:53] How the work of Elizabeth Bananuka at BME PR Pros means Daljit no longer feels “like the only person who looks like me in the room.”
[00:27:17] Why the work of Elizabeth Bananuka has meant that Daljit has met so many fantastic BAME PR professionals
[00:27:50] How 13% t of the UK population belongs to an ethnic minority but, according to censuses carried out by both the PRCA and CIPR, only 8% of the PR profession belongs to an ethnic minority.
[00:28:08] How PR’s diversity issue centres around London: 60% of the PR industry is based in London and 40% of the London population is an ethnic minority or from a mixed ethnic background.
[00:28:59] Why as a sector of marketers and communicators PR does not represent the community we are supposed to be marketing to.
[00:29:35] The lessons that Daljit learned from setting up Hotwire's, and then Diffusion’s graduate schemes that might help increase the diversity of PR's talent pool.
[00:30:10] Why there's not enough BAME people who want to work in PR: As Daljit says: "There's lots of good work being done on factors like blind recruitment, but fundamentally if that funnel of BAME talent coming into PR is as narrow as it is now, it doesn't matter what processes you have to reduce unconscious bias it's not really going shift the needle in getting more BAME people into PR."
[16.6] [00:30:56] Why Daljit believes the intersectionality of PR’s diversity problem is important to consider. If we want to get more BAME people into PR we need to look at how we get more men into PR, for instance.
[00:31:25] Why the dominance of the middle classes working in PR also impacts in PR’s diversity problem
[00:33:58] Why, perhaps controversially, Daljit doesn't believe the solution to increasing diversity in the PR industry is to lower its standards. He says we “need bright, smart, articulate, literate, presentable, hard-working people in PR and there are a lot of those people who are also part of the BAME community but at the moment we are just not doing enough to reach out to them.”
[00:34:21] Why amongst the BAME community “there is a lack of understanding about what do we do as a profession, what does being an in-house communicator involve, what does working in an agency involve and what does working for as a PR for in the third sector involve?”
[00:35:02] How the clearest way of encouraging BAME people into the industry is for them to see role models who they can relate to - “who looks like them, has a similar background, talks their language and is seen to love what they do.”
[00:37:29] How can we find charismatic individuals that can tell our industry story?
[00:39:10] Why if PR wants to compete with law firms, medical schools, teaching and accountancy firms, we need to more effectively promote PR being about business and social good.
[00:42:17] Why the task of communicating PR as a great career should not fall solely on BAME people working in PR
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