The BLACK paPR Report

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PR from an African American Perspective

Guest Contributor: Alfred Edmond, Jr.

Memo to Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Learn Before You Launch

As found on BlackEnterprise.com

Entrepreneurship is one of the most important keys to wealth creation. However, too many people—laid-off or forced to take a buyout, eager to leave jobs they hate, or hungry for fast money—start businesses without taking the time to really learn the industry related to their respective businesses first. At Black Enterprise, if we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times: “I’ve found a location, written my business plan, invested my life savings, and chosen the name for my barbershop (or fashion design firm, event planning business, music production company, etc.), but I don’t know anything about the business. Can you tell me what to do?”

 

What?! Come on, now! Memo to all you aspiring entrepreneurs: Learn before you launch. Even the editors of Black Enterprise, as expert as we are, can’t tell you everything you need to know about how to make a success of your business in a phone call or e-mail. You have to do your homework. If you’re thinking about starting a business (or, heaven forbid, you’ve already started one), but you haven’t done any of the following, you’ve got work to do:

Get A Job
Get at least two years experience by working in or for a business similar to or directly related to the one you want to start. Ideally, this would be paid, full time work, but if you have to take unpaid work to learn an industry on nights and weekends, do it. Also, this is the time to find out about any licenses, training, certification or degrees required in the business you’re interested in. This is also a great way to find out if you’ll even like working in the business every day. If your dream business is a natural hair-care salon, you don’t want to wait until after you’ve quit your secure job and taken out a second mortgage on your home to find out that you can’t stand being on your feet for 12 hours a day, six days a week, braiding hair. True entrepreneurs work to learn, not just to earn.

Read Industry and Trade Publications
Subscribe to and read trade publications, whether digital or print, for the type of business you want to start. This includes books, newsletters, magazines, blogs and websites. There are almost no businesses that do not have at least one how-to book on the ins and outs of success in that industry. If you don’t know what they are, you don’t know enough to compete in that industry. It’s time to get started with your research.

Join Trade Groups
Join and become active in a professional or trade association for your industry. A few minutes with a search engine such as Google should help you to identify the right groups for your business. These groups often have useful websites, offer informational and education seminars, and may provide member benefits such as discounts on purchases for your business or group health insurance. Most importantly, these associations keep you connected with others in your industry, including prospects, strategic partners, customers, industry mentors, potential employees and sources of financing. You should join national groups, as well as be active in their local chapters. If the trade group for your business has no chapter in your area, maybe you should be the one to start one.

Participate in Conferences
Attend conferences for your industry as well as conferences for entrepreneurs in general. You’ll find out about these through the aforementioned trade associations, most of whom have national and regional conferences and events. In addition to industry-specific events, you should also be attending programs devoted to entrepreneurship across all industries.

For example, the annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference is the largest gathering of black business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in the country each year. The 2009 conference, hosted by General Motors, is from May 17-20 at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance & Detroit COBO Center in Detroit, Michigan. This is a must attend for aspiring entrepreneurs who are serious about business, not just playing at it. More than 1,000 business owners, ranging from the CEOs of the Black Enterprise 100s–the nation’s largest black-owned companies–to many of America’s most successful small business owners, will share information on financing, launching, and growing your company. They are joined by hundreds of representatives from America’s largest corporations, all looking for businesses prepared to provide products and services to their companies. (Go to Black Enterprise Events to register or for more information.)

Now, to do all of these things will take time, money, and effort. In fact, it feels a lot like work. The question is, are you serious about starting a business, or are you just talking about it–or worse, playing at it? If you don’t want to study the industry, read about the industry, spend time around other people in the industry, work in the industry, why in the world are you trying to go into business in that industry?

Too many businesses fail almost before they start because entrepreneurs want to first do, then learn. It works better, with less risk and less expense, if you do it the other way around: Learn the industry, then launch the business. And this is not only for the start-up stage, but for every stage of your enterprise—the learning must continue even after your business is established, or it will never reach its full potential for growth and profitability. There’s nothing I can tell you in a phone call or e-mail that will change that.

alfred-1Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com

Alfred A. Edmond Jr. is senior vice president/editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com. He is responsible for the long-term planning and development of the Website’s content, as well as the hiring and overall supervision of the editorial staff, which consists of editors, writers/bloggers, and contributing editors.

Edmond sits on the BLACK ENTERPRISE editorial board and is also responsible for helping to set and enforce quality standards for the editorial content of the major franchises of BLACK ENTERPRISE, including BlackEnterprise.com; BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine; Black Enterprise Magazine’s Keys to a Better Life podcast series; live networking events, such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo and the Women of Power Summit; and the Our World with Black Enterprise and Black Enterprise Business Report television shows.

 

 


Filed under: Help for the Practitioner, PR Standards & Practices, The Business of PR & Publicity, 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? 

~ ~ ~

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, 

 

“Robin,

Thank you so much for your encouraging assessment of where we are taking BlackEnterprise.com. 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 BlackEnterprise.com the forum and source for business and wealth-building success on the Web. Please continue to share your feedback (both positive and otherwise).

Alfred”

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 BlackEnterprise.com. 

~ ~ ~

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

A New BlackEnterprise.com


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 BlackEnterprise.com 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, BlackEnterprise.com launched a 2.0 beta site. The new BlackEnterprise.com 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 BlackEnterprise.com is winning at keeping people on their site.    

The new BlackEnterprise.com 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. BlackEnterprise.com 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 BlackEnterprise.com. 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 BlackEnterprise.com has done a great job in categorizing their content, another access-friendly move on their part. 

The greatest lesson to glean in BlackEnterprise.com 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 BlackEnterprise.com’s example and by the example of our president-elect.  Relationships are everything in PR, right?

 

~Robin Caldwell

robin@thejstandard.com 

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

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