- Social enterprise model offers paid, work-based training for refugees and immigrants to learn the field of communications
- New agency also pursuing partnerships to scale its impact
- Incubating company honored as PR Team of the Year by PRSA San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter
San Diego CA— It’s the classic David versus Goliath scenario – a slow-moving industry being challenged by a plucky small business to address the industry’s diversity struggles. In this case, the underdog is a communications agency in San Diego taking this on within the public relations industry.
Mixte Communications has officially launched its social enterprise agency, Tracks Public Relations, which will provide paid, work-based training jobs for refugees and immigrants (New Americans) to help create a new career pathway for this population, and welcome diversity into the industry.
“For years, the public relations industry has discussed its lack of diversity, but we’ve made little progress in welcoming new voices,” said Tracks CEO and founder Jamie Hampton. “Without an inclusive workforce, the industry of public relations simply cannot offer the creativity and services needed to help companies sync with communities across America. As the messengers for brands, products or services, it’s not just a good thing to do: it’s just good business.”
Opportunity is Not Created Equal
Hampton says the idea for Tracks began during Mixte Communications’ strategic planning in March of 2017. Mixte, which turns eight next year, follows the business model of traditional agencies, but with unwavering dedication to community-driven values, such as fighting for equity and cultural humility. Hampton’s team suggested the company reinvest its profits back into the communities that it served, leading to the incubation of Tracks, which has operated since late 2018.
“Everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue a thriving livelihood for themselves and their family. But opportunity is not created equal – especially in the public relations industry, which is 83% white,” said Director of People + Creative Angela Rivera, who transitioned from Mixte to lead Tracks in June. “That doesn’t send a message to someone like me that you’re welcome in this industry. We’re changing that.”
Tracks Will Be More Than a Local Agency
Tracks won’t stop at a locally based training program, says Hampton. With the vision of its Workplace Strategies Director Karim Bouris, the company is developing partnerships to measure effectiveness and to make the case to scale its impact. Tracks is in talks with a local adult education program to create English as a second language curriculum aligned to meet the needs of companies hiring communications staff. The company is also exploring a pilot partnership with a national nonprofit with a specialty in placing New Americans into the country’s workforce.
“We have a lot of work in front of our team at Tracks, and we have a lot of work to do within our industry,” says Hampton, who hopes to be voted into a three-year position on the board of directors for the Public Relations Society of America San Diego/Imperial County Chapter. She aims to chair the diversity committee. “We have to redefine how we operate as an industry – small changes in our traditional practices can translate to more applicants representing a more diverse talent pool.”
Hampton says small changes that she hopes her local industry will universally adopt include things like paying interns to open opportunities for students who need to work to support their education and intentionally distributing job descriptions into communities that have a lot to offer, but that might not follow PR job boards or be referred by the current workforce.
Mixte Wins PR Team of the Year
Last night, Mixte accepted the PR Team of the Year Award from the local PRSA chapter for its commitment to values, quality service and actionable effort to make a difference for others within the industry.