Letter from the President

When is the last time you really considered the language used in your writing or in your interactions with others? 
While you may intend one thing with the words you select, have you considered the impact it may have on the diverse audiences on the receiving your message? 
Language matters. This was a central theme of our latest Akron PRSA monthly luncheon with Dr. Tameka Taylor, CEO of Compass Consulting Services, LLC. Her program,"Language Matters: Communicating Effectively and Reluctantly with Diverse Audiences," not only examined the business case for diversity in the workplace but examined language and its impact on others. This was my second time in my career working with Dr. Taylor in this capacity, but it was a good reminder and a great refresher to be held accountable for not only the diversity, but inclusion, in my choice of words and actions. As Dr. Taylor pointed out, "if diversity is the noun, inclusion is the verb. Inclusion is about our behaviors."

As communications professionals, we rely on our words, language and behaviors to transmit the message of our clients, but even the most well-intentioned person can get it wrong. It is critical in our profession that we not only look at our own perspective, but the perspective of those on the receiving end of our communications. We must consider the impact on the many diverse audiences.

But what is diversity?

Dimensions of diversity can be internal and include things that neither change nor tend not to change, such as gender, race or physical ability. Diversity can also include external factors which can change. External dimensions can include marital status, income, educational background, religion and appearance. How will your message impact individuals in each of these dimensions?

Dr. Taylor provided some tips to address language, a few of which I will share:
1) Ask about pronoun usage, don't assume you know an individual's pronoun preference.
2) Keep up with language as it evolves - new words are created, and older words can carry new connotations.
3) Beware of the word "normal".

While these tips just scratch the surface on communication and language, they provide valuable insight into the impact that language can have on a person. 

Throughout the luncheon I heard words that impacted individuals in many ways, yet had no impact on myself. I will be making a conscious effort in my career to choose language that makes a positive impact and I hope that you'll join me in this effort of inclusivity.


Angela D. Bennett
Akron Area PRSA President, 2018

< Back to news