The BLACK paPR Report


PR from an African American Perspective

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, , , , ,



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:

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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?


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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


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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, , , , , , , , , , ,

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 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 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: 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

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