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School of Journalism and New Media
University of Mississippi

IMC Connect! panel discusses advocacy and social justice in public relations

Posted on: April 13th, 2022 by ldrucker

A panel of industry experts discussed the role of advocacy and social justice in public relations during the inaugural IMC Connect! event Friday, April 1 at The Inn at Ole Miss.

The panel was moderated by Professor Candice Edrington, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, and featured:


Steve Holmes, VP of Corporate Communications and External Affairs at The Home Depot

Renee Malone, President and Founding Partner at KQ Communications

Dr. Marquita Smith, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs in the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi

A panel speaks during IMC Connect!

A panel speaks during IMC Connect!

Edrington provided a topical introduction and background regarding her expertise in the role of advocacy and social justice in public relations. Dr. Edrington’s key finding from her research concluded that social media followers engage more when they see community-building efforts and when they identify with an organization, stakeholders demand movement beyond association, and corporate social responsibility has led to corporate social advocacy.

Throughout the panel, there was an emphasis on the importance of a value system, remaining true to yourself, and staying authentic. Steve Holmes urged the importance that what you are doing is sometimes more important than what you say.

Dr. Smith explained to attendees that when beginning your career or a new position, it is important to ask yourself if you can bring your whole self to the company. Asking questions is crucial because invisible identities in work culture will not appear until you ask questions.

Panelists also shared that representation and a variety of voices at the table can lead to respect and empowerment. Career professionals should never assume they are perfect, or the work is done. Making people comfortable and having conversations with all employees is essential as a leader. Without diversity in your organization, a crisis can be created.

The panel on social justice was just one part of the inaugural IMC Connect! Other panels included topics such as crisis communication, social media, and advertising/building a brand.

By Jordyn Rodriguez and Margaret Savoie.

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