COVID-19 is uniquely impacting Blacks in communications due to organizational shifts brought on by the virus combined with the heightened social justice climate. Media Frenzy Global, in partnership with the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS), released its 2020 survey, COVID-19’s Impact on Black Communications Professionals, highlighting challenges faced by Black professionals during COVID-19.
The survey administered online from June 9, 2020, to July 6, 2020, analyzed insights from communications professionals with connections to seven regional affiliate NBPRS chapters encompassing agency, corporate and independent practitioners in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
The study intended to uncover potential roadblocks experienced by Black Americans working in communications-related professional settings during COVID-19’s arrival in the United States and subsequent spread between January 2020 and the present. In exploring the experiences that black communication professionals have faced since the onset of COVID-19, the research sheds light on several factors:
- More than 52% of respondents said they felt more pressure to perform at a higher level than their white counterparts during the pandemic;
- Almost 72% of those surveyed said they felt stressors from the surrounding community impacted their job performance;
- An increase in stress and a decline in productivity were common findings, with 76% percent of respondents revealing anxiety at their jobs increased during the pandemic, with perceived declines in productivity even across the board.
As of Spring 2020, over 33 million Americans lost their job during the pandemic. A recent report from Pew uncovered Black workers with bachelor’s degrees continued to lose jobs in May 2020, even as the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions led to job gains for white professionals.
“COVID-19 has a grave impact on the Black community, especially in the professional realm,” says Katie Kern, Partner of Media Frenzy Global. “There is a clear need for data to be compartmentalized and addressed so that we can take the necessary steps to find and create resources to assist our most vulnerable communities,” adds Kern.
Black communications professionals are not unlike other American minorities navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Blacks are five times more likely to be hospitalized by the virus than Whites. Job loss and insecurity, underemployment and increased stress are also among the significant impacts felt by this group and reported in the survey.
“As black media professionals, we are constantly under pressure to perform at a higher level than anyone else,” said Neil Foote, president of the National Black Public Relations Society. “Now, the COVID-19 pandemic only reveals that we are getting hit hard. This survey provides us important data that reveals the hard truths of this disruptive period, and how black professionals must take the necessary precautions to stay healthy to manage the stress and get the help we need to be successful at our jobs.”