The BLACK paPR Report


PR from an African American Perspective

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. 




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A New

alfred edmond, jr.Alfred Edmond, Jr. is the social media mentor. Anyone who is in business and connected to him via MySpace, Facebook and on other social media networking sites knows Mr. Edmond not only graciously shares his knowledge and an encouraging word, but he knows how to optimize technology to build a brand. Of course, he has earned the branding brag rites for being the approachable and nice editor-in-chief, but he has also turned attention to and Black Enterprise Magazine to a cross-generational group of Internet users.    black-enterprise-beta2

Days before Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, launched a 2.0 beta site. The new is easier to navigate than its previous incarnation and far more engaging. The whole point of a Web site is not only to attract people there but to keep them there as well. And is winning at keeping people on their site.    

The new has clean pages and eye-soothing fonts and colors. The site’s minimalist aesthestic is current with Web design trends that evangelize building sites that are psychologically easier for a user to stay for extended periods; foregoing music that has to be turned on and off, and blaring video that jars the senses. has embedded video and other content that gives the user the ability to read without overlapping sounds and color confusion – sensory overload.

black-enterprise-beta3Another element in keeping with social media philosophy is the user’s access to the editors and contributors of Public relations professionals should thoroughly enjoy the contact, which is refreshing given that we are often frustrated on sites, trying to find the right person to send pitches or feedback. And has done a great job in categorizing their content, another access-friendly move on their part. 

The greatest lesson to glean in changing its site is the recognition of what people/users think and how they process information in this Information/Technology age. It’s not enough to have the site with the most bells and whistles, it is more important to have content that actually speaks to people and engages them in an exchange – a useful exchange that benefits both parties. It’s about building a relationship based on mutual need and not on a one-sided perspective. We can learn this lesson for our clients by’s example and by the example of our president-elect.  Relationships are everything in PR, right?


~Robin Caldwell 

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