The BLACK paPR Report


PR from an African American Perspective

Colleague to Colleague

The Pitching Arm

Some of my journalist friends don’t believe publicists think or read. They base that opinion on the pitches they receive from publicists asking them to produce news and feature content for their publications and broadcast/cable programming. A business reporter really does not want to receive a pitch for an entertainment story that is short on business content, and does not have a business angle. By the same token, an entertainment reporter or editor really won’t appreciate hearing about your client the dentist who once filled a tooth for Usher. 

There is a wonderful reason why PR/publicity programs are integrated into journalism programs on the college level. Both journalists and practitioners should know a lot about one another’s industries. The best publicists I know have worked at PR agencies and/or publications as journalists. 

Moreover, the very best practitioners are news junkies. They read and watch everything. (I’ve been known to receive inspiration and an idea or two from actually reading encyclopedias.) Call us know-it-alls but it is imperative to our success to know who is who and what is what and where to find who and what, which is pretty much how a journalist thinks and operates.

That stated, keep your ‘pitching arm’ in great shape to serve our clients. Here are a couple of Web sites that help me tremendously:

Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

Practitioner Peter Shankman has revolutionized the pitch by presenting queries from editors, journalists and even bloggers in need of sources. In effect, HARO offers the reverse pitch and the story comes directly to the practitioner. Shankman writes on his Web site:

“Each day, you’ll receive up to three emails, each with anywhere from 15-30 queries per email. They’ll all be labeled with [] in the subject line, for easy filtering. If you see a query you can answer, go for it! really is that simple.

I built this list because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources. Rather than go through my contact lists each time, I figured I could push the requests out to people who actually have something to say.

These requests only come from reporters directly to me. I never take queries from that other service, I never SPAM, and I’m not going to do anything with your email other than send you these reporter requests when they arrive in my in-box.”

Your Pitch Sucks?

ysp“YPS? works with a leading team of senior public relations professionals to help you craft the perfect pitch. That’s where we come in. We’ll take a look at your press release or pitch and fine tune it for you to ensure that it’s the best it can be.”


And one other strategy helps a lot in perfecting your pitching arm: Take an online publicity course or register at the local community college for a refresher course. 

Best, Robin


Filed under: African Americans, Colleague to Colleague, Help for the Practitioner, PR Standards & Practices, Public Relations, , , , , ,

Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter

To hear me tell it, Twitter is not for the faint at heart or the impatient person. It’s just something you cannot over-analyze, you just have to do it. I’d had a Twitter account (@thejstandard) for months before I took the plunge and decided to tweet or post my updates. Like most things, I took a day and played with Twitter, studying how to follow (add) and be followed (be added); how to engage other tweeters and how to maneuver around the page.     shaq_twitter2

Quick tutorial: Twitter is a micro-blogging system that allows a person (tweeter) to post (tweet) short messages (tweets) up to 140 characters (not to be confused with 140 words). It’s a really great way to tweet random thoughts that can actually be used later in a larger blog, which is how my friend Ty uses Twitter. Or you can use tweets to post links to articles, photos, music and almost anything under the Internet sun. 

You can also use Twitter to communicate with other people. Some of the most irritating tweeters are people and businesses that tweet their sales, product info and other forms of advertising without engaging the people who follow their tweets. Tweeters will let you know when you’ve crossed that precious line. 

There are a few athletes using Twitter but few are actually tweeting for themselves and have interns or personal assistants micro-blogging on their behalves. But there are a few exceptions and the most recent is Shaq. If you are on Twitter or thinking of joining, you can go here to find Mr. O’Neal. His Twitter I.D. is @THE_REAL-_SHAQ and as of this writing Mr. O’Neal has 9,175 people following him though he only follows 159 people. Not a great ratio for engagement but easier for him to navigate. That 159 is an elite group who will be able to communicate back and forth with @THE_REAL_SHAQ on Twitter. If Shaq doesn’t follow you back, he will not be able to see your tweets to him unless your tweets are unlocked and on the public timeline. (That’s how Twitter works, folks.)

Here’s a great story on by Adam Ostrow about a Twitter user, @lord_b who didn’t believe that Shaq was actually on Twitter. He obviously caught @THE_REAL_SHAQ at the right time because his doubtful tweet turned into a telephone call from Mr. O’Neal.

I think a certain doubting Thomas is going to a basketball game now. 

Best, Robin

Filed under: African Americans, Public Relations, Social Media, Sports PR, , , , ,

Contagious 2

royaleLast week I introduced everyone to the amazing vlogs I’d discovered on There are more and this vlog by Royale Watkins somewhat explains the power of these videos on — they engage and connect:

If I had the embedded code I’d share one of the most poignant vlogs recorded by Royale addressing the suicide of Abraham Briggs, the 19 year old Floridian who took a lethal dose of pills on-camera and then laid down on his father’s bed to die as people observed via a camera he’d set up. That camera ran for over 12 hours and someone finally had the courage and sense to contact the company hosting the streaming video to report what happened to Abraham to authorities. 

Comedian Stevie Mack created the FBTV Network to serve as a hub for the vlogging talent pool on the social network. Members of the group are privileged to information regarding intellectual property issues and video hosting.          

Last night I discovered another gem, a real GEM (Good Enough Mother), René Syler, the author of Good-Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting (Simon Spotlight Entertainment). René spent four years as an anchor on CBS’ The Early Show, and is a spokeswoman for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Read about René HERE. René’s vlogs are incredibly smart and witty, they also incredible marketing tools that engage readers of her book and engage a legion of new fans. (PR Tip: Wanna sell a book? Sell the author first.)

Watch here:

Connect and engage. Vlogging as a marketing device or networking device will not work without making an effort to connect with people and then engaging them on a personal level. The beauty of these wonderful vlogs is that people, famous and infamous, are building the field and people are showing up. This is real reality TV. 

Best, Robin

Filed under: African Americans, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

Colleague to Colleague

barack_obama_01I’d already posted my blog last week before reading this article by the NY Times’ Jeff Zeleny, Lose the Blackberry? Yes He Can, Maybe. Zeleny points out that Mr. Obama, our president-elect, will have to give up his beloved Blackberry before he takes the oath of office in January 2009. Zeleny writes, 

“But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.

For all the perquisites and power afforded the president, the chief executive of the United States is essentially deprived by law and by culture of some of the very tools that other chief executives depend on to survive and to thrive. Mr. Obama, however, seems intent on pulling the office at least partly into the 21st century on that score; aides said he hopes to have a laptop computer on his desk in the Oval Office, making him the first American president to do so.”80997358MW006_OBAMA_RETURNS

Do I think this is funny ha-ha or funny peculiar? I think it’s both. Mr. Obama is evidently quite fond of that Blackberry. His entire campaign was based on technology and digilization, so that’s the ha-ha funny. The peculiar part has to do with him having to give up something that brought him some semblance of normalcy, but that goes with the position. We will see what happens and I have no doubt that he will comply.

The spin on this topic has been incredible. Here are a few articles to read:

Why Obama Should Keep His Blackberry – But Won’t (Wall Street Journal, 11/21/08)

Barack’s Gadget Blackout (Sky News, 11/17/08)

Let Obama Be Obama (Motley Fool, 11/20/08)

By the time this story broke about Mr. Obama’s Blackberry, it was reported that his Verizon cell phone, a flip phone, had been hacked by employees of the company. 

Should he have to give up the Blackberry? 

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Barack Obama will also be posting weekly YouTube broadcasts, which I think is a wonderful continuation of his viral or contagious social engagement. Of course, I am geeked (no pun intended). In the event you’ve missed them so far, watch below:

Saturday, November 15 Address

Saturday, November 22 Address

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This week’s guest contributor is an old friend, Terrance (Terry) Harris, a sports columnist with The Houston Chronicle. If you’ve followed this blog since its humble beginnings, then you know I love sports and anything to do with sports PR and publicity issues. Terry’s blog post is a reprint about the lack of African American college/university football coaches at majority schools. That’s a serious PR issue that should be addressed though Terry doesn’t deal with the public relations aspect directly. I saw the spin. 

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Thank you, Alfred Edmond for your comment on my blog. Your words only confirmed your graciousness and willingness to share. Alfred wrote, 



Thank you so much for your encouraging assessment of where we are taking We have a long way to go, but we share your view that we are headed in the right direction.

However, I do want to echo Pam: kudos not just to me, but to a great staff, including Interactive Media Director Alvaro Muir, Interactive Editorial Director Deborah Skinner, Online Reporter Marcia Wade, Copy Editor Janell Hazelwood, Editorial Assistant Renita Burns, Ancillary Editorial Sonja Brown and contributors from our magazine, design and television teams.

We are all enjoying a boost of confidence and are reenergized in our mission to make the forum and source for business and wealth-building success on the Web. Please continue to share your feedback (both positive and otherwise).


And on that note, thank you to Alvaro Muir, Deborah Skinner, Marcia Wade, Janell Hazelwood, Renita Burns, Sonja Brown and the rest of the contributors on the new 

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I’d also like to thank Pam Purifoy, my colleague. This past week, Pam introduced me to Ken McGee, a former political flack who worked on Carl Stokes‘s bid for mayor of Cleveland in the 1960s. It was a pleasure connecting with Mr. McGee who knew my uncle, Kenneth Clement, who was Carl’s first campaign manager and a prominent physician in Cleveland. And I discovered as did Ken that as a child I played with his children who were often at the campaign headquarters. Small world. 



Filed under: Colleague to Colleague, Public Relations, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,