All Articles Tagged "public relations"
A former editor of Ebony has decided to strike out on her own. Award-winning magazine editor Lynn Norment recently announced the formation of her company, Lynn Norment Media. According to Target Market News, Lynn Norment Media will offer media relations and editorial services to individuals, agencies and corporations.
Norment already has some A-list client. She recently worked with Carol H. Williams Advertising, one of the nation’s largest African-American and female-owned full-service advertising agencies. Norment advised the president/CEO on media issues for the agency and its clients. She also helped to execute various projects for clients that included the U.S. Army, AARP, the Chicago Teacherr’s Union and FELD Entertainment.
Norment made her mark in media at Ebony, where she was editor for a number of years. In 2009, Norment was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions to journalism.
Norment, who taught journalism courses at Columbia College Chicago, continues to mentor young journalists.
With the launch of her new media company Norment is in good company. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the public relations industry will grow faster than other industries. Twenty-one percent percent in fact.
Drowning statistics in the United States are sobering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ten people die from accidental drowning every day and, of those, two are children aged 14 and younger. What’s worse is that this crisis disproportionately affects monitory communities. African-American children aged five to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts, says the CDC.
In the face of such depressing trends, Talia Mark has made it her mission to attack the problem head-on. As the Manager of Multicultural Marketing for USA Swimming, it is her job – and her passion – to generate interest in swimming and create awareness for the importance of water safety, particularly among blacks and Latinos. And it’s a sweet gig. She jets around the country with Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, organizing community swim events and private lessons with black and brown kids, and she just spearheaded a partnership between USA Swimming and the sorority Sigma Gamma Rho to spread the water gospel even wider. (Jones will also be on the “Make a Splash” tour come 2013.)
While it may seem like a responsibility too large for the 29-year-old Michigan native, Mark is cruising confidently on comfortable terrain. Before joining USA Swimming, she served as the Manager of Diversity Affairs for NASCAR, similarly working to increase minority interest in a sport that many of us overlook. Recently, we sat down with Mark to discuss her career path, why she’s so committed to getting more folks into the pool, and her advice for other aspiring women.
Madame Noire: You’ve held some pretty high profile positions at both NASCAR and USA Swimming. Did you always have a dream to work in sports?
Talia Mark: Actually, I wanted to go into event planning, but nobody told me out of high school that public relations was not event planning. So I studied public relations at Central Michigan University.
My first internship was with a place called PineRest Christian Mental Health Institution. One day my best friend called me because she was doing an internship at this place called TCG Campbell in Dearborn, MI, and they were having this big crisis. She was calling me to see how to fix it, and when I got off the phone with her I was like, “Look, I don’t know what it is that you’re doing, but I want to do that. This is not where I want to be, and I can’t sit in the office everyday.’ And come to find out, she was working with the Ford Racing team.
A couple weeks later I was able to get an interview with TCG Campbell, and they asked which department I wanted to work in. I was 20 years old, and I just knew that I wanted to travel, so they put me in racing.
MN: Did you have any preconceived notions about NASCAR or racing, in general, before you took the position?
TM: Honestly, I didn’t even know what NASCAR was. I had no idea. My first race was at Talledega, AL. That was my first experience, and it was actually during the taping of Talledega Nights, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was so big, and so loud, and so fast, and everybody was so nice. There was just so much happening that I couldn’t go back. I ended up staying at TCG Campbell for about 2 ½ years.
MN: How did you move from NASCAR to USA Swimming at the beginning of 2011?
TM: In my last position at NASCAR, I was the Manager of Diversity Affairs, so my overall goal was to get more people interested in the sport who weren’t previously interested. The goal was to bring opportunities to diverse communities that may not have thought about racing as a viable option for entertainment or for job opportunities.
Going into the Olympic year, USA Swimming knew that the world is evolving and its much more diverse, and since they are the leaders in the Olympic movement, they wanted to be ahead of the curve in terms of diversity. So they were looking for someone to develop a multicultural marketing plan and reach out to people who may not swim. Essentially I was doing the same thing at NASCAR, but now there was the chance that I could actually help save someone’s life.
MN: How did you get the call? Did you have to actually apply?
TM: I had a number of people – some of my mentors and other people that I know in the sports industry – tell me that USA Swimming was really looking to promote diversity in swimming and they asked if it was something I would be interested in.
MN: That’s interesting because I think a lot of people are still relying on filling out job applications to get hired, but it doesn’t often happen that way, does it?
TM: No, I don’t think I’ve ever filled out a job application.
MN: So what advice do have for others to best position themselves for career opportunities?
TM: I think the first thing is to recognize opportunities. When I first took the job at NASCAR in Florida, my grandmother told me not to do it. She said it was far from family, far from my home, far from everything that I knew. But you have to have confidence in yourself, and let that fear go. A lot of people don’t want to let go of what’s comfortable.
Secondly, networking is going to be a big thing. When I first got into NASCAR, I sent out notes to people who I respected in the industry, and I still do this today.
I’m not coming at them looking for a job – that’s what they’re used to. I simply tell them that I respect what they’re doing in the industry, and I respect [he/she] as a businessperson, and I ask if they would be willing to mentor someone like me. And I will tell you right now that I would not be able to do half of the things that I am doing without my mentors. They have opened so many doors for me and stopped me from going down the wrong path so many times.
MN: So what’s next for you?
TM: I definitely have big dreams and goals, but I’m very happy with what we’re doing at USA Swimming, and what we’re doing is so important right now. You only get that chance once in a lifetime to make such an impact on someone’s life, a culture, a community. And I’d love to do bigger things within USA Swimming, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that growth will bring.
Andrea Williams is a journalist and writer based in Nashville, TN. For more, follow her @AndreaWillWrite.
No doubt, you’ve been hearing a lot about the “fiscal cliff” that we’re perilously close to going over. On January 1, a number of tax increases and spending cuts will go into effect if this very divided federal government doesn’t reach a compromise. Faith in their ability to reach a resolution is low, which is impacting stock prices today and has been a factor for many business decision makers for months.
“Failure to reach a deal means tax increases and deep spending cuts take effect in five weeks — the fiscal cliff scenario that analysts fear could push the country back into recession,” says CNN.
The plan President Obama proposes would extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class while ending them for people making $250,000 and more. This infographic lays out who would be affected by the tax increase and who wouldn’t. (Those who wouldn’t include individuals making less than this amount and “97 percent” of small businesses.) The My2K hashtag refers to the $2,200 that middle class taxes would increase should we actually fall off this metaphorical cliff. The White House has also been pushing their proposal hard on their Twitter account, with videos and other media included, and on this website.
Of course, others who reject the President’s plan have also used the hashtag to make their point of view known.
President Obama is also meeting with small business owners, chief executives at corporations, and middle class Americans today.
The Republicans, of course, aren’t taking this lying down. They’re also planning a number of events in Washington, with small business owners and corporate bigwigs, and in their home states, telling everyone who will listen that the White House plan will cost jobs. They say there should be no tax increases for anyone and want to reduce the size of government. They’re also in favor of spending cuts and entitlement reforms, a break with a pledge that many Republicans made with Grover Norquist, an anti-tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform.
“This is the public relations phase of the latest fiscal showdown in Washington, where direct engagement is no longer viewed as the optimal route to reaching a deal. As Wall Street shudders and Congress once again risks looking feckless in the face of crisis, both sides are locked in a battle to win over key interest groups — and the public,” writes Politico. The website notes that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) haven’t met face-to-face in a while to discuss a compromise. Many believe they should meet, and meet often, in the coming days. But previous meetings over other issues yielded little. So the President seems to be opting for another strategy this time around.
A final compromise has to be reached in 33 days.
Welcome to another “Behind The Click.” We continue with the longest running profile series of African-American women in tech with Lauren Wesley Wilson. I’m a fan of hers not only because we both share the same first name but because of her achievement in creating a trade association, ColorComm, that brings together women of color working within the communications field, many of them involved in digital areas. I had the opportunity to meet the founder and chief networking officer as an invited guest at a tea the organization had in Washington, DC and I wanted to be sure that I shared information about their work with Madame Noire readers. Here we go!
Current Occupation: Founder of ColorComm, Inc.
Favorite website: Forbes Woman
Favorite read: Got What It Takes?: Successful People Reveal How They Made It To The Top by Bill Boggs
Recent read: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
2012′s ultimate goal: To evaluate my place in this world
Quote Governing Your Mission: “Surround yourself with people who light up your life and make you laugh till it hurts.” If you don’t surround yourself with people who make you feel good, how can you become the best version of yourself? And you need the best version of yourself to accomplish your goals and make an impact in this world.
Twitter handle: @ColorCommntwk
Lauren deLisa Coleman: How did you decide on Spelman and what was it like attending college there?
Lauren Wesley Wilson: Spelman was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; a choice that truly took me out of my comfort zone and provided an opportunity to interact with and learn from people who looked just like me, something I wasn’t used to. Growing up, my environment and upbringing included little diversity. I attended St. Louis private schools since kindergarten and had only one black friend. Spelman was what I needed to understand who I am and to know that there is an intellectual black community that exists in droves. I entered Spelman as an only child and graduated with plenty of sisters.
LdC: How did you decide on your major? What role did it play in your later position with public relations powerhouse Hill & Knowlton?
LWW: I majored in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. It was very fitting to have a well-rounded education with global experiences to work at a global company. Some of my clients included Qualcomm, SunEdison, and Wipro.
LdC: How did you transition from that to your work as communications director for a member of Congress?
LWW: I knew there was an opening for a communications director for a Texas Democratic Congresswoman, because the previous communications director came to work at Hill & Knowlton. When I was ready to move on from [the firm], I reached out to a colleague and friend in that office and became the new communications director.
LdC: You then went on to apply your skills to the Obama campaign. Tell us more about your work for Obama at the Florida campaign headquarters?
LWW: For the short time that I was in Florida, I learned so much about media booking and media relations. It was a great learning environment for me, because I’m used to being in control and feeling as if I know everything. Working in Florida proved that this wasn’t the case.
LdC: What led you to start ColorComm?
LWW: This answer is very long and I welcome any coffee meetings with folks who want to hear the true and uncensored story. The short version is this: I wanted to see more examples of women of color in leadership positions in my field. The PR industry is not dominated by women of color. Frankly it’s just the opposite. It is important for us to come together at the mid to executive level to share our brainpower and resources to better ourselves professionally and personally.
ColorComm started off as an invite-only luncheon series in May 2011 and transitioned into a membership organization in July 2012 with a chapter in Washington, DC and a presence in New York and Chicago.
LdC: What is the mission for the organization? What is the biggest challenge you have in running ColorComm?
LWW: [As it says on the website], “The ColorComm mission is to personally connect women with other like-minded individuals to build a strong network of leaders by creating mentors/mentees, business relationships and friendships. ColorComm offers a unique opportunity for women to share experiences and learn from one another to enhance their personal and professional development.”
The biggest challenge is balancing it all with our full-time jobs and extracurricular activities. ColorComm has such a great leadership team that we are able to make this work, despite all our crazy schedules. We carefully plan each program several months out, because the most important thing is to continue maintaining the quality of our organization and to service the needs of our members.
LdC: Describe the membership base for me.
LWW: Our membership base is pretty diverse in age and background. We have members that are [ages] 25 to 60-plus and that are in all industries of communications (PR, media relations, advertising communications, small business owners, digital communications, etc). It’s an environment where we can all come to the table and learn from one another.
I would say that if you’re involved in ColorComm, most likely you use digital strategies on a daily basis to service your clients. You also use digital platforms to connect with members outside of the programs. It’s great to see members connecting online and supporting each other’s events and activities.
LdC: Why is it important to have organizations like this for women of color, particularly in the digital age?
LWW: Women bring a unique energy to networking and to the conversation. Because there are few of us at large PR companies and in the industry as a whole (in comparison to the majority), it’s truly important for us to know one another and to collaborate with each other.
A woman of color in this field will experience a different set of challenges because of who we are and our perspective. ColorComm provides an opportunity for us to come together and learn how to navigate our way through this industry. The programs and events are unique experiences that challenge our thinking and allow us to form meaningful relationships with like-minded people.
LdC: What advice might you have for women who are particularly interested in the convergence of tech and politics?
LWW: Read, read, read, read some more. Follow the people who you strive to emulate and join organizations. As a woman of color working in policy, my challenges were met by having a strong outside network. This is something that anyone can create. Just remember that connecting initially should be genuine and less transactional.
LdC: What are your plans for ColorComm for 2013?
LWW: To continue building the ColorComm network and to focus on expansion in other key major cities.
So, there you have it! Be sure and watch for the next profile. In the meantime, please follow me about all things digi-social via my new Twitter handle @ultraLdC.
Welcome to another installment of “Behind The Click”, the longest-running profile series on African-American females contributing to the tech game. Meet Amber Allen who is the founder and head of a communications agency called Nella House. I recently had the pleasure of meeting her after one of my recent digital-speaking engagements in Washington, D.C. Her energy and achievements just screamed a “Behind The Click” inclusion, so here she is.
Current Occupation: Principal and independent consultant at Nella House
Favorite website: www.yellowtrace.com
Favorite read: Entrepreneur magazine
Recent reads: Champagne and Real Pain by Maggie Nolan
Some of My Best Friends Are Black by Tanner Colby
Stieg Larsson: The Real Story of the Man Who Played with Fire by Jan-Erik Petterson
The Secular Monastery by John Steinbruner
Quote that inspires you: “Be fearful of mediocrity.”
Twitter handle: @ambitiousamber
LdC: I read in your bio that you attended Spelman College. How did you come to select that school?
AA: I traveled a lot when I was a child, but I stake my claim to my hometown of Stafford, Virginia – a small suburb outside of Washington, D.C.
I selected Spelman College for two reasons: I wanted the HBCU experience – an experience that I thought would be unique and quite different from anything I had experienced before (and I really did fall in love with the school when I walked on campus); and I really wanted to be in Atlanta (I had relatives there, loved the entertainment scene, and I was aware that African Americans were really excelling in the city).
LdC: What lead you to pursue a Masters at Georgetown?
AA: Spelman gave me a first-rate education, and unforgettable cultural experience, and it is where I matured and met my “life friends.” I can go on and on about my school because I really believe and know that Spelman equipped me with career, cultural, and intellectual tools that are unique to the Spelman experience.
I heard about the public relations and corporate communications program at Georgetown through one of my best friends. She and I were both in that rather interesting phase of trying to transition from liberal arts degree-holders to corporate career climbers. We both recognized the need to take our publicity and event planning experience as student leaders and formalize it in the classroom… with an attractive degree. The program was amazing, had amazing professors, and in its first year (in which I was a part) was nominated by PRWeek.
LdC: So I know from there you went on to land a gig as press secretary for the American Security Project? What was that like?
AA: Working as press secretary for ASP was a hard, but rewarding, job. I recommend press secretary-ish positions for anyone seriously considering a career in communications. I was responsible for directing and implementing comms strategies and products for an entire organization with a lean team. ASP tackled issues of national security, from nuclear security to climate change, so it was a cerebral job that necessitated taking all that complex, wonky info and distilling it for public (and media) consumption.
Black Girls Rock! (BGR) in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and P&G’s My Black is Beautiful campaign has launched the Imagine a Future Project, a program that, according to BGR founder Beverly Bond, will “empower and touch the lives of one million girls over the course of three years.” Through this program, there will be a national and regional (and perhaps worldwide) push to continue BGR’s philanthropic work with and on behalf of African-American girls.
As you probably know, Black Girls Rock! is the nonprofit organization dedicated to mentoring and uplifting black girls while also tackling issues associated with media depictions of black women and girls. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the organization per se, you likely recognize the name from the BET awards show that airs annually. No doubt, you’ve heard of the United Negro College Fund (“A mind is a terrible thing to waste”), which has been around for more than 40 years. And perhaps you know My Black is Beautiful because you’re friends with it on Facebook. The campaign has 761,000 Facebook likes, a website and tons of exposure through P&G’s promotion. The partnership was facilitated by PR and marketing firms Egami Consulting Group and MSLGroup. If you’re unfamiliar with Egami, click here to watch our She’s The Boss video with CEO Teneshia Jackson Warner.
Bring them together and you have a program that targets and supports black women and girls in their personal lives and public portrayals.
A Partnership Focused on African-American Women and Girls
P&G’s My Black is Beautiful sponsored BGR Queens’ Camp for Leadership and Excellence, a two-week program that took place this month and hosted 50 girls between the ages of 13 and 17. On August 1, those 50 girls made a trip to Egami and MSLGroup, who hosted an event offering a “day in the life” of a multicultural PR agency like Egami.
“There’s an expectation for brands to have a presence in the communities in which they live,” Warner told us. “As we build campaigns, we’ll find synergies to bring in community partners.” Moreover, Egami wants to include staff members, which is why the firm participated in the event. And the young participants learned that the information they collect every day — what’s in, what’s new, what’s exciting — is just the stuff that’s critical to a career in PR.
According to Bond, she was approached with the idea for these sorts of partnered initiatives, something that happens quite often because of the unique, high-profile nature of her organization.
“We make sure people just aren’t supporting the TV show and the glam, but the work we do,” Bond says. Still, she says, she is the “majority owner” of BGR, the beating heart of the organization. “That’s probably the biggest misconception. BET doesn’t support our nonprofit,” she continues. “It’s tough getting people to recognize that we need the help. We’re doing everything that nonprofits should be doing, but it’s still tough.”
Over the past few years, with the growth of social media and other digital technologies, we’ve seen lots of new titles. “Chief Innovation Officer,” for instance. Or “Social Media Community Manager.” Now we can add “Chief Culture Officer” to the organizational structure.
Since the economic meltdown in 2008, companies have suffered because, internally, they also meltdown. A disorganized brand that doesn’t have a clear sense of itself, or a business that is trying to grow but, in the process, is losing the qualities that made it successful in the first place are two examples of a cultural failure. The chief culture officer is charged with making sure this doesn’t happen.
In this role, the executive is kind of a liaison between employees, customers, and top executives, monitoring the ways in which the company needs to change and overseeing the evolution of the corporate culture. In some cases, the job also means finding ways to hang on to key aspects of the company culture even as the business changes.
“ [A] company’s culture changes constantly, which makes it a challenge for companies trying to define it and make sure it’s progressing the way they want,” writes Fortune magazine. It’s a job that mixes business with HR with elements of branding and communications.
Does your company have a “chief culture officer”? Is it a job you’d be interested in?
Time for another “Behind the Click” profile. This time I’m checking in on Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, co-founder and managing director of a social media and management agency in New York City, Digital Brand Architects. Kendra is proof that there is no such thing as the “conventional” route and, in that, is a source of inspiration for all who are currently in transition and wondering how to leverage themselves in the digital game.
Working at both an agency and a brand were a perfect combination for me because each had its own unique experiences, challenges and opportunities to learn different facets of the business from pitching, to reporting across different departments, strategy, [and] management. It was an incredible, enriching experience and truly brought my understanding of digital media full circle going from the lens of an agency to in-house and understanding the nuance of both. It was challenging and rewarding but necessary to guide me to where I am now.
Have you seen those new Best Buys ads yet? You know the ones that showcase a variety of contributors to the tech space from the guys who created Words With Friends to the man who enabled your phone to be able to take a photo? Well, they are all the same gender and same ethnic type; leading one to believe that this is the standard in digital. Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t. And with that, welcome to another installment of the longest running profile series on African-American females in the tech space. This time the spotlight is on Tynicka Battle. She is the co-founder and CEO of ThinkTank Digital, a New York City-based digital marketing agency. Under her direction the company provides digital branding, social media strategy, online publicity and web/app development solutions. The company’s clients range from cutting edge start ups to Fortune 500 names in music, film, media, beverage, government and telecommunications industries including Pepsi, Lady Gaga, Motorola. Tynicka shares with us the triumphs and challenges of being in her position.
Current Occupation: Co-founder and CEO of ThinkTank Digital. A boutique digital marketing agency in NYC.
Favorite read: Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.
Recent read:“The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick DeWitt, an awesome shoot-em-up Western.
2012′s ultimate goal: To not die as I walk across the street in the city, texting
Quote Governing Your Mission: “Just the facts ma’m”. I feel I can solve just about any problem if I focus on the facts at hand and remove all subjectivity.
LdC: I always start off with education. How did you come to select Rutgers and how did you like it?
TB: I’m a Jersey girl. Plus my parents told me they could only afford for me to apply to 3 colleges. Once my best friend also got her acceptance letter to Rutgers College, the decision became crystal clear.
LdC: How is your psych major applied to your current occupation?
TB: My Psych degress have been tremendously helpful. I was always intrigued by human behavior. I play close attention to many digital marketing campaigns to help fine-tune my own philosophy of what works well with users, and why.
LdC: Where were you before you helped found this business and what did you do, specifically?
TB: I was handling digital marketing for another agency from 1999-2006.
Meet Danita King, the Principal and Founder of PR Noir, one of the fastest growing boutique public relations firms in New York City. Hailing all the way from Houston Texas, this young CEO opened PR Noir in 2007, with a mission to fill the void for innovative, brand-centric PR.
Graduating from Tulane University, magna cum laude with a triple major B.S. in English, Spanish and African Diaspora Studies, King later received a full academic scholarship to Boston University, where she earned a Master of Science degree in Corporate Public Relations in 2003. She then began her career as an apprentice at a contemporary sportswear fashion showroom in London, later moving to New York City to work in-house positions for fashion and luxury brands Joseph Abboud and Coach in New York.
Throughout her career, King has executed strategic PR campaigns and media-driven events for such notable brands as Bill Blass, Simmons Jewelry Company (Russell Simmons), Disney, August Silk, Bongo, VH1 and Target, among others. She has also worked with a number of celebrity, sports and music-driven campaigns and holds close strategic partnerships with celebrity management, publicists and record label executives.
PR Noir has a solid client roster of boutique and mass-market brands in the fashion, beauty, sports, luxury goods and lifestyle categories. King has worked hard to carve a unique, niche specialty and competitive edge: equal footing and relationships with both mainstream and multi-ethnic media.
Flip the script to see what advice King has to offer for young black women wanting to break into PR or start their own business.