frankGender EqualityInspirationRacial Equality

Why I Am a frank Scholar

May 4, 2016   |   Natalie Tindall

As someone who is passionate about what she does and knows, I am in awe that any person asks me to participate on a panel, asks me to comment on their work, or invites me to be a part of a conference. When Dr. Linda Hon asked for me to participate in frank(scholar), I said yes without a pause and without knowing what I was getting into.

Later, when I saw the impressive list of international scholars who would speak and when I learned that we had to do a TED like talk, I didn’t feel the terror just the excitement. This was a different type of conference. The conference language affirmed that. This was a place where scholars with like minds could challenge, discuss and promote their ideas. As an isolated scholar of color in a department without colleagues who share research interests, I needed an intellectual oasis like frank(scholar) in the middle of my semester.

My conference talk focused on connecting the dots within my research and to the research of other scholars attending the conference. Little did I know that as I prepared my presentation and played many games of Dots that I would launch a project that blended my research, my budding innovation and entrepreneurial interest and my concerns for underrepresented PR students.

Once upon a time, I had a blog centering on diversity and public relations, The Requisite Variety. According to the Wayback Time Machine, the blog started in 2009. One of the first original posts outlined the goals of the site: “a blog to discuss ideas, topics and research related to difference in public relations practice. Now is the time, and although I may be the primary author, all of us have a chance to contribute to the discussions of diversity.”

I knew that I wanted to do something bigger, but my time and talent became wrapped up with tenure and job success.

When I mentioned this idea of The Requisite Variety as a hub to connect students and practitioners at frank(scholar), I thought it would be an offhand remark. Who was I, a regular academic with a lot of papers and theories, to do something like this? And who could I partner with to get this off the group? What group of people could help me launch this idea and help with outreach, logistics and planning?

I received my answer after I stepped off the frank(scholar) stage. At that conference, I received warm, enthusiastic feedback from the scholars and a willingness from frank to help with the launch. Without the help of frank to get this idea out of my head and off the ground, I would still be thinking and trying to connect the dots.

February 2016 saw the relaunch of The Requisite Variety as a blog and as an information repository. Inspired by 2020 Shift and Diversify Journalism With Me, I wanted to do the same thing for PR with The Requisite Variety, a database initiative to assist students and practitioners of color who are seeking job and professional development opportunities and to assist hiring managers and HR leaders in PR find diverse candidates. 

One of the intentions for frank(scholar) is to be an incubator for great ideas and initiatives, and I am pleased to be the first frank scholar to launch a public communication-facing project.

Thank you, Dr. Hon for the request for me to speak, and thank you to frank(scholar) for helping me turn my passionate cause into a reality.

Natalie Tindall
Natalie T. J. Tindall, Ph.D. APR is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Lamar University. Her research focuses on diversity in organizations, specifically the public relations function, and the situational theory of publics and intersectionality. Follow her on Twitter @dr_tindall.