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? 

~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ 

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. 

~ ~ ~

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 

~ ~ ~

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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Patrice Hale's YouTube page

Social media PR is indeed hot, but it’s proving to be the wave of the future in PR and publicity practices. It’s as simple as connecting the dots between various computer technologies and social networking forums.

However, I won’t oversimplify it in this space, but I will share that I’m incredibly impressed with the way some celebrities and even businesses are using social media to build brand loyalty and followings.

One of the most impressive uses of social media use was during the presidential campaign process by Barack Obama’s campaign. Brilliantly, they engaged (a primary rule of social media) a legion of voters and supporters by sharing (a primary purpose of social media) information on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. Moreover, they utilized their own Web site in a manner that included live streaming video (Ustream), events pages and blogging space for supporters. And the most talked about use of social media was the 3 a.m. cell phone text message announcing Barack Obama’s choice for vice-president.  

Barack Obama Campaign Twitter Page (note the followers/following)

Barack Obama Campaign Twitter Page (note the followers/following)


Celebrities such as CSI: NY’s Hill Harper utilized social media to promote voter literacy and rights, as well as to record video messages urging people to vote.

I had an opportunity to talk to Jason McCall, a special director for the Obama campaign, whose job it was to recruit celebrities to not only support the now president-elect but to also use social media to promote voter registration and voting. Here is a sample of his projects for Vote for Change

Lately, I’ve seen some really interesting projects on Facebook using the virality of social networking while engaging “friends” in a meaningful dialogue. 


Terri Vaughn


Royale Watkins

Actress, producer Terri Vaughn’s use of vlogging or video blogging is absolutely brilliant. Terri is transparent and she actually engages by talking directly to her viewers about life as a black actress in Hollywood, motherhood and about future projects. You can find my favorite vlog by Terri here.  Actor-comedian Royale Watkins produces a vlog, My Life Online, which is also smart and incredibly funny. What I love about Royale’s vlog is that while he’s funny he taps into serious subjects and gives us another side of a comedian’s life.  It’s rare to see a comedian in a multidimensional way, My Life Online is indeed a multidimensional view of Royale. I love smart anything and these vlogs are truly smart in terms of engaging fans/supporters, attracting fans/supporters, and my favorite thing of all – bringing the publicity. Of course, they are also useful for career transitioning and image change. According to the hundreds of comments Terri and Royale receive, their vlogs also help them appear “real” to people. In later editions of my report I will discuss what happens when a vlog goes wrong, really wrong.  

Patrice Hale, a Facebook friend is also attracting a lot of hits to her page as well as friends and supporters. Miss Hale, a screenwriter, who possesses the charisma of a Sherri Shepard and the wit and intelligence of a scholar. Yes, she’s that smart but she’s incredibly funny tackling a serious topic (again one of my favorites) – the lack of black images on broadcast/cable prime-time shows. Here’s Patrice’s infamous and viral vlog:

If there’s anything to learn from these projects it’s imperative that the relationship between the user and the producer of vlogs and other forms of social media is a two-way relationship. The hotness factor in the above was the openness of all to receive and acknowledge feedback, which in turn engages an exchange. It just doesn’t work when you talk at a user. 

Best, Robin




Filed under: African Americans, Mass-Mediated Images, New Methods, Social Media, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Colleague to Colleague

2008 Campaign Staff DiversityDo you think there will be a public relations text book about Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency? Oh yeah, it’s probably being written or edited as I type. I tried searching and that was a funny ordeal as I noted that many authors have tagged the poor man to increase hits to their pages. Guess I can’t blame them.  I do know this: David Plouffe has earned a place in history for his strategies and the brilliance in which he structured a campaign utilizing social media and the press, to not only attract people to the change message/messenger but for also engaging people in a way unprecedented. David Plouffe created the standard, and we all know how I feel about ‘the standard.’ Read Brian Solis’s PR 2.0 blog post about Obama and change. And visit:

  ~ ~ ~

Photographer Deirdre Wilson-Redmond and I were chatting back and forth on about this footage of Barack Obama during his first visit to the White House as president-elect. We decided that he has swagger. How do you read this footage? Do you feel the same?

I see a man who is confident and more concerned about how he feels about himself. He appears less concerned about cameras and media attention. And that’s a great thing.

Maybe it’s time we encourage our celebrity client’s to be less posed and more relaxed. Maybe it’s time we tell them to stop being happy to be invited and to act like they belong at the party. (That’s a blog post in and of itself.)

While I’m on the subject of Barack Obama… What do you think of these images?


~ ~ ~

ebonyjet1I love the new It’s amazing to watch transform before our very eyes. Does anyone remember when Ebony was about 13 by 10 inches in size? Does anyone recall when they converted to their new size? A lot of their loyal readers protested. They thought they were receiving less. is new too. They’ve joined the ranks of Web sites with networking communities. The genius of their community is that it can be integrated with other social “ning” sites, giving users the ability to invite their friends to join and that optimizes and publicizes’s position on the Internet.   essence1


~ ~ ~


Okay, need a Twitter tutorial? Hit me up and I’ll explain how it works. Twitter is a must-do for PR/publicity professionals. It comes with a variety of Twitter “clients” or tools to navigate the micro-blogging site and integrate it with other Internet sites. Plus, it’s fun. In the coming posts, I’ll blog more about Twitter as well as the importance of guarding your online persona.

Best, Robin

Filed under: Colleague to Colleague, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

A New Image

It’s been almost ten years since I stood in a college classroom to teach mass-mediated images of African Americans. The subject is one I love but have few instances where I can discuss my knowledge of black images. That is until Michelle and Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, June 3, the world was a witness to Barack Obama taking center stage at a rally in Minnesota with Michelle by his side. She looked elegant, strong and extremely supportive. He looked confident, secure and if I can share my bias, he looked quite presidential. In my mind, the world caught a gander of our nation’s next president and first lady. 

The thing that struck me as more beautiful than their appearance, in and of itself, was the sight of Michelle and Barack giving one another dap, pounding their fists together in a symbol of unity. And as she walked away, he came centimeters close to patting her on the behind, another symbol — a symbol of love and affection.

Some of the scholarship I’ve read posited that the image of a healthy black love relationship was missing in our movies, television programs and in our literature. My students — black, white, Asian and Hispanic — always dismissed that fact until they were given the task of disproving it. The only example most could find were Claire and Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show. That was it in a nutshell.

Fast forward, ten years later, the story remains the same with a few more examples. The most recent example would be Barack and Michelle.

They don’t want their relationship on a pedestal, which is wise. Anyone free to hold up the pedestal is also free to kick it from underneath them. Still, they, albeit inadvertently, represent an image — a model — of love in any color that is healthy and long overdue for most black people.

Pounding fists didn’t occur between two lawyers but rather between two people who obviously like one another. Two people who share a history and perhaps, a secret or two. The fists colliding represented the words we’ll never hear. 

“I’ve got your back.”

“We did it!”

“Let’s do this…”

My hope is that art begins to imitate life and we begin to embrace the stories of a real black love (and like) between a man and a woman. No more TV shows with widower black men raising kids on their own, or men whose wives are on crack, or sisters who have baby daddies and no husband, or bitter single black women who refuse to support a black man. 

It’s time for a change in images we can believe in, too. 

As a PR professional, how will you commit to making those images happen?

Best, Robin

Filed under: African Americans, Mass-Mediated Images, Public Relations, , , , , , , , , ,