The BLACK paPR Report

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PR from an African American Perspective

Contagious

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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. 

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Terri Vaughn

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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

robin@thejstandard.com

 

 

 

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

Sold on Social Media: Lessons from Gustav

I followed reports on Hurricane Gustav and called my clients, Raney and Carla Antoine. Thankfully, they were preparing to evacuate and gave me a first-hand account of the chaos and madness in New Orleans and surrounding parishes. Carla shared as she picked her children up from school that she and Raney, a minister, took the time to visit members of their congregation who are elderly and sick and helped them prepare physically, emotionally and spiritually for the evacuation. On top of this, she told me that they had a host of relatives in the area to check on before leaving for her brother’s home in Atlanta.

During her drive back to her subdivision, Carla described the panic in the streets; gas stations running out of fuel and even noted when she saw a fuel truck unloading fuel at a gas station; she spoke to a neighbor about their evacuation plans and how they would pick up loose objects off of the ground before leaving so no one would be hurt by them in the storm. Carla told me that FEMA’s contraflow would begin on Sunday at noon, but that was when Gustav was at Category 2. I took note of everything she told me and then I …

Micro-blogged that information on Twitter.com so that people with New Orleans and Gustav-related concerns could receive it and know how to proceed. The responses I received were phenomenal and gratitude-filled.

Soon on Twitter folks stopped “tweeting” or micro-blogging about Sarah Palin and Barack Obama’s speech and began tweeting about Gustav. It was incredible.

Today, people like Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, asked “tweeters” or micro-bloggers what should craigslist do to aid in any evacuation effort. He gave out his personal email addie.

Another tweeter, @urbanreporter (urban reporter) posted live video footage he’d taken during his assignment as a reporter for HDTV and he used another social media site Ustream.com to run it. By the way, Ustream is the official video streaming site of the Barack Obama campaign.

One of my favorite uses of social media is this: http://gustav08.ning.com/ and it was tweeted several times by me and other tweeters, including CSI actor and social activist Hill Harper as well as social media consultant, James Andrews. This ning site is astounding and was developed to keep people abreast of Gustav activity but also give families a central online location to post their concerns and check for their loved ones whereabouts. Freakin’ genius created by A. Carvin.

There are other social mediums working away to report on this effort and to even give place for activism. What I’ve witnessed so far has been short of astounding and proof that gurus, experts, fanatics and even novices like me can do great things with information technology to make a really bad situation bearable. I’m officially sold on social media as a grassroots communication movement, and sadly I have Gustav to thank for that.

 Best, Robin Caldwell

robin@thejstandard.com

Filed under: Crisis Management, Media Relations, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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