Sunday, September 14, 2008

Election Focus: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
Open Letter to Politicos and Millynneum Insight Blog Fans*

During a recent BPRSNY event here in NYC, CNN Analyst and Political Operative Jamal Simmons (President, New Future Communications) offered “behind the scenes” insight on his fascinating career in governmental affairs and revealed what PR pros can do to get out the vote during this historic Presidential Election year! Tips include:

> Encourage people to vote early (before work)—particularly in precincts of color where heavy turnout is expected due to the > Be prepared to “wait it out” … there may be long lines;

> Check the weather … take an umbrella;

> Help seniors and others obtain absentee ballots if they can’t make it to the polls;

> Drive or accompany friends and relatives to the polls … take a day off (if possible);

> Understand the issues and candidates’ positions (see websites);

> Make your views known via posts on mainstream blogs like The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Talking Points Memo;

> Political journalists and producers track these blogs for hot topics … if you feel there’s an important election issue that should be covered—start blogging

*Share this post and link with everyone you know:

Here’s a recent Huffington Post gem that touts ways to enhance your “Get Out the Vote” strategy! Take heed, believe and get the job done. We all can have an important impact on this election and the future of our communities. Get your mind in the mix and step up your game.

Frightened by McCain’s Post-Convention Bounce?
Three Things You Can do to Personally Affect the Outcome of the Election

By Robert Creamer :: The Huffington Post :: Posted September 9, 2008 | 01:32 PM (EST)

Over the last couple of days I've received more calls and emails than I can count from people with fear in their voices. They want to know what to make of McCain's post- convention bounce in the polls. They want to know if Obama can still win. Most of all they want to know what they can do to help.

McCain's post-convention bounce resulted from two factors:

First, was three days of the Republican Convention, during which large numbers of viewers watched Republicans and fellow travelers like Joe Lieberman repeatedly deliver a carefully crafted message. They blasted Obama. They postured about change. Their kids looked adorable. Subject anyone to largely one-sided messaging for a week and some will be convinced. Some of that will stick; much will disappear as memories of that experience fades.

Second - and more importantly - McCain's pick of Sarah Palin moved a lot of white women. The Washington Post poll released today showed white women shifting from an eight-point pre-convention lead for Obama to a 12-point McCain advantage.

What does this mean for the outcome of the race?

The race today is about even, with McCain having a slight advantage in the popular vote, and Obama having an advantage in electoral votes. The effect of exposure to the convention itself will likely diminish over the next several weeks. In 2004, Bush moved to a nine-point lead after his convention and most of that gap disappeared within a few weeks.

The long-term effect of the Palin factor is less certain. Much depends on what all of us choose to do now.

There are about ten likely electoral vote scenarios that could develop in this race. In eight of them, Obama is the winner. The underlying desire for change, and the overall disgust with the Bush-Republican administration of the last eight years, is just as real as ever. The website employs a sophisticated projection model to predict electoral outcomes, and it still gives 61.2% odds that Obama will win in November.

But this week's polling numbers have certainly given a wakeup call to lots of Progressives who might have become complacent in their views that Obama's victory was a lock.

What did we think - that the gang who has run this country for the last eight years would simply roll over and surrender without a fight? These guys are very good at running elections and they will bite and claw and gouge eyes to win.

Luckily, we don't have to just sit by and watch from the sidelines, and hope that someone else makes the right call or runs the right TV spots.

There are three steps that every one of us can take that will actually impact directly the ultimate outcome of this race.

1). Remember that you are Obama's best campaign commercial. Obama made a good deal of progress at his own convention in convincing swing voters he is not just an agent for change, but a "safe" choice. But there are still a lot of voters who worry about Obama. They aren't really too worried if he is "experienced" enough (though they may say so). The movement of white women to Sarah Palin should put an end to any thought that "experience" is the main issue. They are worried if he will "safely be on their side."

The message that is most persuasive at convincing someone that Obama is "safely on their side" is having someone who is like them talk to them about why they support Obama - and why they are against McCain-Palin. "If Mary or Sarah likes Obama I guess he must be OK."

If you want to help win this election, it means you might have to break the "taboo's" about not talking about politics with your neighbor or your co-worker. It means you have to bring up the campaign over the lunch table or the backyard fence. It means you can't just go along when someone says something like "Palin is such a breath of fresh air." No, you must tell them, actually she's never been for "reform" and she embraces all of the economic policies that allow big companies to make tons of money while incomes of people like us fall.

Want to make calls to swing voters like you in swing states? The Obama campaign can hook you up with lists to call and get a report from you on the outcome through their website, And don't feel like the conversations you have are just a drop in the bucket. There will be hundreds of thousands of other volunteers around America who will be doing the same thing.

2). Don't unwittingly contribute to their narrative. Most swing voters aren't excessively focused on "experience." They think the gang with lots of experience has done a pretty crummy job, at least for them. They want someone who is "on their side." One reason that many white women like and identify with Palin - at least at first blush - is because they think she identifies with them.

When Progressives make "elitist" attacks on Palin, they just reinforce the right wing narrative that the "Elitist Eastern Establishment" is the problem. Don't patronize the very people we are trying to convince.

From most people's points of view, the problem with the McCain-Palin ticket isn't so much that Palin is from a small town in rural Alaska and hasn't got the experience to run the country. The arguement that is convincing to normal people is that neither McCain nor Palin are what they claim to be - reformers or agents of change. Their campaign is being run by lobbyists for the biggest corporate interests in America--the same people who ran the Bush campaign. And they are committed to the economic policies that make average people's incomes drop and reward the very rich.

McCain and Palin act as though they identify with the interests of the guys in the NASCAR grandstand and the women at the PTA - but they are doing the bidding of the guys from Wall Street and the women wearing $4,500 outfits like the one Cindy McCain donned for the Republican Convention.

Our assault on McCain and Palin must never be done from an elitist perspective, but from a populist perspective.

3). Take personal responsibility to win this election. More than any election in modern political history, this election will be decided by the work of millions of people who talk to their neighbors, make small donations on the internet and - most importantly - demand that every voter go out to vote.

And I mean demand that every voter go to the polls. To win, we need to change the electorate. In this election, friends don't let friends not vote. There is too much at stake. The damage of another four years of Bush-McCain economic and foreign policy would be catastrophic for the future of our children, and children all over the world.

The key point is this: don't just whine to your friends about what the campaign should do, or the party should do, or the candidate should do. Take personal responsibility to do the two things that will win: persuade swing voters, and mobilize voters who won't vote unless they are motivated to do so.

The Obama campaign has the best field operation in the history of presidential politics. Join it. Take an assignment. Make contributions on the Internet. Hold a fundraiser. Write a letter to the editor. Most important: don't sit on the sidelines.

The recent polls should provide a call to arms to everyone who wants change in America or believes in progressive values.

Don't think what you do is inconsequential or can't affect the outcome. My firm, the Strategic Consulting Group, ran the field operation for a wonderful congressional candidate in south Florida in 2000. We did a great job. We knocked on every door. We pulled out lots of votes. But we lost by 550 votes. It was the same 550 votes that beat Al Gore and gave us George Bush.

If we had just dragged out one more Democrat per precinct in the closing hours of that Election Day, America would have been spared the nightmare of the last eight years. Each of us could decide the outcome of this election, too.

In 2008, Progressives in America are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally change the direction of American politics. As I argued in my book, Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, we could be on the verge of a new progressive era in America. If we win, progressives will be able to take the offensive and reshape the political and economic structures of our society for the first time in four decades. We can come out of our defensive crouch and help shape a democratic society infused with progressive values, with the fundamental principle that "we're all in this together" not "all in this alone."

But to have that opportunity we have to win - and winning requires that we all stand up now and take the future into our own hands. The game is on. Get out of the stands and onto the field, into the arena. The work we do over the next 56 days could be the most important that any of us will do in our lives. Let's not miss this precious opportunity to make history.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on

Saturday, September 13, 2008

“The Code” of Politics, Class and Cultural Conflict

Politics is a brutal game. Folks often speak in code. While I have my own strident views, sometimes it’s more prudent to help others spread their messages. Following are thoughts on what I believe is “backward” Republican thinking.

My goal: to help you “crack the code.”

The good news is nearly everyone’s talking politics. Say what you will and support who you want, but this … my friends … is a very good thing.

Wise minds understand issues and challenge fiction with facts. Discuss the election not only among like minds, but reach out and challenge those whose worldview differs from your own. Watch the competition and learn to understand how they think.

Only then … can you win at the “chess game” of politics and civic affairs.

If this election doesn’t challenge us all to get off our duffs, then what will? Use your voice and your vote to participate and sway the national conversation and outcome.

“The Code” of cultural and class warfare is a powerful tool to keep us at odds with each other.

Understand what’s at stake and vote to “Remake Americain a contemporary fresh image. Change the conversation to include both coasts, all races, north and south, urban and rural.

If not, we could embark on another brutal “Culture and Class War”, with enslaved minds, backward thinking and a lack of freedom-oriented, forward action.

The Civil War was not pretty and there’s no need to shed more American blood (or time) over the pettiness of “us” vs. “them.” As Americans, let’s learn from our mistakes and take a great leap forward. We’ve embraced the unknown before—and look what a great country our ancestors built.

Let’s celebrate our differences and play to our strengths in order to win the global game, instead of participating in the madness of devisive, separatist thinking.

This link comes from communications colleague Nelsena Burt:

> 100,000 + posts so far
> Join the conversation

These following two humorous and “biting tidbits” are widely circulating on the Internet; everyone knows how I am about attribution!


"Speaking of Sarah Palin, she said she's a life-long member of the National Rifle Association. Which may explain why she's in favor of shotgun weddings." -- Conan O'Brien

Source: Unknown … but a definite keeper!

The beauty of this post is that we’ve all participated in similar conversations over the past two weeks since Sarah Palin’s selection as the Republican VP nominee. It’s important to put our “American Selves” out there. Real change comes when you discuss the issues and ask tough questions while devising real solutions.

If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a 'game changer.'

Black teen pregnancies? A 'crisis' in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A 'blessed event.'

If you grow up in Hawaii you're 'exotic.'
ow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential American story.'

Similarly, if you name your kid Barack you're 'unpatriotic.'
Name your kid Track, you're 'colorful.'

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the
individual you're 'reckless.' A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a maverick.'

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator
representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified
to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an 'arrogant celebrity'. If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are 'energizing the base'.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are 'presumptuous'. If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a 'shoot from the hip' maverick.

If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are 'an elitist 'out of touch' with the real America. If you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a hero.

If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an 'empty suit’. If you are a part time mayor of a town of 7,000 people, you are an 'experienced executive'.

If you go to a south side
Chicago church, your beliefs are 'extremist'.
If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man
made, you are 'strongly principled'.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your
disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years with whom
you are raising 2 beautiful daughters you're 'risky'.

If you're a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her
water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent,
endangering the life of your unborn child.

But if you're a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you're spunky.

If you're a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you 'First dog.'
If you're a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you 'beautiful' and 'courageous.'

If you kill an endangered species, you're an excellent hunter.
If you have an abortion you're not a Christian, you're a murderer
(forget about if it happen while being date raped)

If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents.
If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the
proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

This brilliant piece forwarded by communications colleague Fern Gillespie:

Obama and The Palin Effect
From: Deepak Chopra | Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in MinneapolisAlaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

--Small town values -- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

Ignorance of world affairs -- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.

Family values -- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.

Rigid stands on guns and abortion -- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

Patriotism -- the usual fallback in a failed war.

"Reform" -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Your Political Diet
Meat and Potatoes or Moose Stew

It’s official! Democrats had about 8 hours to bask in the historic spectacle of the DNC Convention (and it was truly grand) when John McCain leveled the second round of his “one, two birthday punch.”

His congratulatory ad to Barack Obama celebrating his historic bid for the Presidency: Classy!

McCain’s pick of conservative pro-life Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate: Brassy!

According to politicos, conservatives and heartland evangelists throughout the US applauded McCain’s pick of an accomplished, attractive gun-toting, oil-drilling 44-year old mother of five who embodies the “new generation” of politics.

It was a shrewd move on behalf of the RNC.

Sarah’s hit an emotional chord with Republicans and Independents, courting the “Hillary Vote” right out of the gate and added spice to what could have been a lackluster RNC convention. She seems comfortable in her own skin, which is a very good thing.

My husband Roland and I even commented that she looks a little like Elaine from Seinfeld. Arsenio Hall described her as “Fine!” last night on Jay Leno. Tempered and tough, she was dubbed “Sarah the Barracuda,” a high-school label that stuck. As a communications professional, I read this to mean, “We Republicans now have our own celebrity – a woman.”

Although I’m a registered Democrat, even I can somewhat relate to her as a working woman and “hockey mother” (you’ll recall my son Clinton was an ‘Ice Hockey in Harlem’ team member for years). However, I don’t drink Kool-Aid or eat Moose Stew (Sarah’s favorite dish); I look past the hype and encourage you to do the same this election season.

First, I’m pro-choice; Sarah’s pro-life. She may choose to have 5 kids … that’s her prerogative. I’m of the mindset that difficult personal decisions are made in a lifetime. Sometimes that includes the decision not to have a child. Abortions must stay safe and accessible; it’s every woman’s right.

Obama-Biden laid out their domestic and foreign affairs plan. They “get it” and I’m in their corner. But, be careful not to dismiss the impact Sarah Palin can have on the election; she’s knowledgeable about pipelines and the environment—and that’s not just a pipe dream.

Political campaigns are like a “hunt in the wild” and it’s not over until you kill your game and his or her head is literally stuffed and mounted for all see. As the daughter of a stanch Republican (my dad) and granddaughter of a hunter (by grandfather), I know the hunt for game is often bloody. But, the meal you get from the “kill” (if you win) sure is satisfying. And you can even mount the head of your opponent like a celebrity “trophy.” (In this case a deer, complete with antlers mounted in my mother’s den in Virginia!)

The stakes have been raised, and rest assured folks will not be staying home on election day. The battle will be fierce and the election will be close. If I can sense commonality between myself and this woman, then surely middle-American women and a few Hillary holdouts may be swayed.

Whether you prefer a healthy small diet or hearty fare, here are your menu selections for the Fall political season:

Appetizer: “Primaries”
> Tasty, but left you hungry for more

EntrĂ©e: “Conventions”
> Examine issues amid the pagentry
> Check out C-Span or YouTube for instant replay
> Discuss, delve into background to learn more

Chef's Selection #1: Meat & Potatoes (Democrats)
> Everyone “Get’s it”
> Dependable … think for the people, by the people

Chef's Selection #2: Moose Stew (Republicans)
> A bit exotic, but still favored by many and Sarah P’s favorite dish
> Overbearing & filling … think George W. Bush’s ascent into the White House
> Quells hunger yet leaves aftertaste … think sinking mortgages and our shrinking US economy in global markets

Dessert: Election Day!
> By voting Nov. 4, you provide the sweetest and most satisfying way to finish off a meal!

Choose your political diet wisely as you make your decision over the next two months.

Had your fill of current trends that seem to keep you treading for water? Perhaps it’s time to push the plate away and exercise your right to a better way of life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fall into Productivity
As We Return from Summer Hiatus

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me and there’s a lot of exciting news to report!

Last Wednesday, the Black Public Relations Society-New York (BPRSNY) and the National Association of Market Developers (NAMD) hosted an interesting mix of creative professionals Aug. 20 at Lola is Soul Restaurant in Manhattan’s fashionable Soho district. BPRSNY Visual Historian Gerald Peart shares the following pix for your viewing pleasure:

Digital Discipline: Writing & Media Relations 411
3-Part Communications Skills Boot Camp
Sept. 17, 24 & Oct. 1 @ Burson-Marsteller, NYC

Keep your writing, media and social networking skills fresh, by attending a 3-Part Writing & Media Boot Camp, FREE with $50 annual membership in BPRSNY, a multicultural, 501 ( c ) 3 nonprofit educational corporation.

To learn more about Digital Discipline: Writing & Media Relations 411, visit or contact any of the officers (list below). Classes will be held Sept. 17, 24 & Oct. 1, Burson-Marsteller, 230 Park Avenue South, Manhattan, Wednesdays, 6 - 8 PM. Please spread the word about this GREAT VALUE, for students, entrepreneurs, artists and for impact (nonprofit) associates, as well as those in career transition—particularly journalists and content developers.

Boot Camp participants members will receive e-tip sheets, media worksheets, personal consults and participate in real-time exercises to refine critical thinking and communications skills. Workshops will be led by the org’s executive leadership team who will explain how membership in BPRSNY and other professional industry associations can help advance your career.

Seminar topics (boot camp and future panels) include: Entertainment PR, Writing for the Web, Media Relations, EPKs (electronic press kits), Podcasts / Video, Talent and Artist Relations, Travel Publicity, Government Relations, Conference Management, Event Planning, Personal Branding & Reputation Management, SEO (search engine optimization), Maximizing Social Networks, Crisis and Emergency Communications, Investor Relations and Tax / Accounting Tips for Freelancers and Small Businesses.

This “been there, done that well expertise” is offered at a fraction of rates charged by other leading industry groups and driven by the BPRSNY mission—mentorship! The boot camp also includes presentations from (partial list) BPRSNY VP Diversity & Events Michael Millis, MX2 Media; Director of Membership Kimberlee Bradshaw, CPJ Communications; Co-President Gordon Balkcom, PR Practitioner; and Visual Historian Gerald Peart, photographer, who will share insight on special events, effective networking, corporate / investor / community relations and digital imaging.

Connect >> Communicate >> Collaborate

The Black Public Relations Society—New York (BPRSNY) is a 501 c (3) nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to the professional development of African-American and multiethnic public relations practitioners throughout the tri-state area. Also known as “Beepers NY,” the organization includes diverse talent from corporate America, leadership groups, government, public policy, entertainment and arts institutions. Membership is open to all and includes executives and entrepreneurs from the US and abroad; Contact:, or 212.614.4599.

> Renee Foster - Co-President;
> Gordon Balkcom - Co-President;
> Lynne Scott Jackson - VP Programs & Membership;
> Mike Millis - VP Diversity & Special Events;
> Kimberlee Bradshaw
- Director of Membership;
> Gerald Peart - Visual Historian;

Job 1: Get the Job Done
The Race is Swift

Michael Phelps made history at the Beijing Summer Olympics and we’re now in the midst of the Democratic National Convention.

Now it’s time for Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to win the gold. He used his summer vacation to wisely focus on Job 1: Get the Job Done and select a political partner who won’t drop the baton—someone who doesn’t make false starts, completes assigned tasks, crosses the finish line and is immediately ready for the next race.

By selecting Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate, he shored up perceptions about his leadership and management style. Here’s why Obama nailed the first major decision of his presumptive US Presidency. Biden has:

> Gray hair
* let’s get real, it’s generational … Gray Hair = Years on the Planet … that is with the exception of my man, Anderson Cooper
> Experience
*yes, we can ALL AGREE 35 years in the Senate counts and winning your first Senate election at age 29 is a huge deal
> Resiliance
* get the job done despite personal tragedy
> A narrative that resonates with blue-collar, middle America, middle-of-the road voters

And, Biden gives good PR. He’s a great orator; is persuasive and ready to lead. Obama and Biden both have great people skills AND they understand the “code” of Congress:

> Work together
> Reach across the aisle
> Bridge generations
> Get the job done

It works in Congress and it works for the American people. If the election were held today, I believe this would be THE winning ticket!

Today’s Candidates
Message + Tech = Success
Is Obama the First Cybergenic President?
You Decide …

Everyone knows Barack Obama has raised millions via the internet. Check the website for the latest dollar tally—the bank account grows by the minute and I can’t even keep track.

This week, organizers were hawking $15 Obama-Biden car magnets. Click, donate, believe and you shall receive.

Guess what? Each dollar is green and each dollar counts big in the click and tumble world of 2008 Election Politics.

Online fundraising allows regular Americans—like you and I to painlessly be part of the process. To feel WE have a small stake in the political game. So we can say we donated to a winner. To show that our money, when pooled, is a valuable piece of the political machine.

And you can comfortably do this from the comfort of your home or office; all you need is a computer screen. While some might still actually volunteer to work in a campaign, organizing door to door, most Americans are mouse potatoes. It’s much easier to make your voice heard through a “click.”

It’s modern communication, activism and political involvement.

We all understand the “VP Choice” text message was released around 3 AM Aug. 24 while college students were out partying. Hundreds of thousands were lured in by this creative promotion, including yours truly and thousands of journalists.

What was achieved by this creativity? The Democratic VP candidates names were kept prominently in the news for about two weeks. Not bad for a free viral publicity gimmick—that worked.

And yes, Springfield … the campaign now has your cell #.

Just like Master Card’s “Priceless” ads that generate mindshare with the public, Obama strategist David Axelrod has created a “Brilliant” IT political strategy.

As quoted Mark Leibovich’s Aug. 3 New York Times article “Hail to the Twitterer,” John McCain has a bit to learn about email and other tech tools:

“We’re not asking for a president to answer his own e-mail,” said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley futurist who teaches at Stanford. “We’re asking for a president who understands the context of what e-mail means.”

Further, the story went on to say …

“There’s a certain tempo to the thinking of someone who uses all kinds of new media,” said Mr. Saffo, who said he would anoint Mr. Obama, if elected, “the first cybergenic president,” just as John F. Kennedy was considered the first telegenic president.

The Power of “A” Words
Pride and Perseverance

As a proud African American woman witnessing the impending Presidential victory of Barack Obama, the past few months have been exciting and eye opening.

Most of all, I’m glad we’re learning to understand the power of the “A” words. Take your pick:

> Astute
> Accomplished
> Acceptable
> American
> Ageism
> Arrogant
> Articulate
> Aloof

“A-list” qualities are definitely conversation starters and can help your candidate get tons of media exposure.

Trying to insert ageism or chastise sitting US Senators because of the perception they are arrogant, articulate or aloof is simply a non-starter.

Frankly, the first three “A” words—astute, accomplished, acceptable—are traits that make Obama appealing to millions of middle Americans … traits that make America tick. Successful people use these as success drivers. Those at the top of their game are usually “Type A” personalities.

The last five A words could apply to Obama or Joe Biden, his Vice Presidential Running mate. Yes friends, it’s uber cool for a Black or Anglo man to have “A-List” qualities.

Let’s use a simple checklist to fact check a few red-blooded American traits held by Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain:

> Harvard degree? Yes.
> Service to country as POW? Yes.
> Patriot? Yes.
> Multicultural* heritage? Yes.
* Understand no American is “pure” … admit it … we’re a “motley mix” of cultures!
> Solid family life? Yes.
> Experience? Yes.

Please note that President of the United States of America is an exclusive executive management position. Few have held the position; most successful Presidents have used a "management team" approach including scores of individuals with a wide range of experience, i.e. the Cabinet.

Yet, the buck stops with the President. That type of "heady experience" befalls the individual elected to the "hot seat," which is the chair behind the desk in the Oval Office.

If you’re a student of culture and language, as I am, then you realize the power of words and the audacity of argument. Words can serve as weapons or friends. We’re at the apex of the information age, with ideas and insults transmitted at the speed of light.

The trick is to have vision. To interpret the meaning and not get swept into the fray of propaganda to obtain viewers, sell magazines or get the most eyeballs to a website.

Analyze the issues. Think and vote with conviction of the proud American you are. Don’t pay attention to every single word of madness that swirls around you. Pay attention to the word in the middle of our “A-List” – American.

We can no longer straddle the fence. We’re at a crossroads. Let’s embrace a blended society and get over ourselves. If Americans used HALF the energy expended to beat each other up (on the campaign trail, on the job or at home) we could create a cross-functional, multicultural braintrust of helping the Obama or McCain team solve some real American problems.

That should be at the top of everybody’s list. Clicking to donate is still uber cool; but don’t forget to get off your butt and get involved!

I submit it’s acceptable for America to elect an articulate, arrogant, aloof, accomplished African American or Anglo American as our next President. Just do your part to ensure it’s your candidate of choice.

Understand no one is the “Anointed One.” In America, if you’re running for leader of the free world or trying to snare you next gig, you’d better have good dose of arrogance or you simply won’t win. You must be audacious in your approach; the competition is stiff.

What folks don’t understand is that Obama, African Americans and other ethnic groups (in your neighborhood or on the job) are uniquely poised to run many races—and win. They're chameleons, champions who are always up for a good fight.

All Americans, in fact, have unique DNA that allows us to win big.

It’s that simple. "A" words should be at the top of any list. Remember that "A" denotes success, an outstanding grade.

American can no longer stand for “B” or “C” status. We need leaders and achievers of all races who are at the top of their game—people with experience and tenacity who play to win.

Asian Americans and African Americans
Advise … Advance … Achieve … Together

I got a personal glimpse of our “new America” this summer as my colleague Mike Millis of MX2 Design Force met with Kendra Lee, Executive Director of the Greater Chinatown Community Association (GCCA).

On behalf of the BPRSNY Board of Director’s, we’re smoothly diving into uncharted waters and forging creative alliances between leading African American and Asian American community and educational groups. Watch this blog and the BPRSNY website for exciting news about future collaborative programs.

In the words of Yanni, “We are One.”

DNC Strategist Jamal Simmons
Offers Grassroots Election Insight

Okay, you’ve heard all the hoopla surrounding the election and the need to become “one America.” But how to turn hoopla into the most important “A Word”—ACTION?

We have an action plan thanks to CNN Analyst and Political Operative Jamal Simmons (President, New Future Communications). He offers “behind the scenes” insight on his fascinating career in governmental affairs and revealed what PR pros can do to get out the vote during this historic Presidential Election year!

Jamal is behind the scenes and in front of the camera in his role as a strategist and advisor to the Democratic National Committee; BPRSNY members and friends were privileged to get the inside scoop July 9 when he shared words of wisdom with PR pros here in Manhattan.

Jamal’s Tips include:

> Encourage people to vote early (before work)—particularly in precincts of color where heavy turnout is expected due to the surge in new voters;

> Be prepared to “wait it out” … there may be long lines;

> Check the weather … take an umbrella;

> Help seniors and others obtain absentee ballots if they can’t make it to the polls;

> Drive or accompany friends and relatives to the polls … take a day off (if possible);

> Understand the issues and candidates’ positions (see websites);

> Make your views known via posts on mainstream blogs like the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Talking Points Memo;

> Political journalists and producers track these blogs for hot topics … if you feel there’s an important election issue that should be covered—start blogging!

Powerful and Persuasive Friends

Everyone who knows me understands I’m big on trends.

Latest trend: Folks I know are serious power players. They’ve earned it and it feels good to know them

Back in my reporting days at the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, my good friend Laurie Hollman Brutch and I tried to interject trends into stories we covered about Dunedin, Clearwater and north Pinellas County. She had I are both now in education; she in Pennsylvania and me here at The City College of New York. It feels good to use our love of writing, research and interviewing skills to pass info on to the next generation.

[Side trend: St. Pete is now all the rave and a haven for artists. They’re positioning it as the next Miami. I don’t think so, but we’ll see!]

For me, small town reporting was the BEST training a communications professional could receive. It stands me in good stead to this day. Writing is a core competency and something that has helped me achieve my goals over the years. As others taught me, I try to pass this skill on to others.

I was privileged to have great editors like Joe Childs, Bonnie Limbach and Paul Tash. Other colleagues are leading journalists such as Denver Post Editor Greg Moore (a mentor from my internship days at the Cleveland Plain Dealer), Washington Post Editors Vanessa Williams, Marcia Slacum, USA Today Editor Jackie Green, Philadelphia News Editor Karin Berry, New York Times columnist and MSNBC contributor John Harwood (check out his new book Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power) and Daily Press Sports Editor David Squires, who pines away in my hometown of Hampton VA. The Daily Press happens to a former employer of (the late) White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow.

To borrow a line from John McCain, the world, MY FRIENDS, is very small. I submit there are a mere three degrees of separation, instead of six.

Often, it’s hard to believe my reporting days were more than 25 years ago. We worked hard. We played hard. We learned from each other. We developed lasting friendships. We’re part of a generation who had access to our “dream jobs” and were afforded the opportunity to excel. We grabbed the brass ring with brash gusto and went for the gold. I chose the PR path; others like Judy Brennan went on to a successful career on the West Coast covering the business side of the entertainment industry, and then on to screenwriting.

For all of us, writing and a genuine “curiosity” about people is at the core of all we do.

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton Supporters
From Barack Obama Loyalist Lynne Scott Jackson

Dear Fellow Democrats:

I watched Hillary Clinton’s speech as she made a graceful stage left departure from the 2008 Presidential Campaign in June.

While my side smelled victory, as I put my ear to the community-at-large (ever the PR practitioner), I learned how passionate Hillary Clinton supporter are; they’re still smarting as the DNC convention’s second day draws to a close. I’ll be glued to the TV as she addresses an international audience this evening.

Hillary always gives “good talk.” I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person when she was First Lady, during a meeting of the American Booksellers Convention as she promoted her book It Takes a Village.

Consider Democrats we must act “as a village” and forge strong alliances in order to win the gold. Let’s learn from the Olympic athletes. Details count. We have to get over ourselves, pass the baton, stay in our lane and FINISH the race.

We simply can’t afford a DNF.*

*Did Not Finish, the score Olympic track & field athletes receive when they drop the baton and cannot finish the race

Before the Democratic primary ended, I received about a dozen Hillary Clinton emails. I’m a registered Democrat, college instructor, New York City business owner, a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Black Public Relations Society and countless other social networks. Folks can find me. I’m on everyone’s list and in the business of being known.

Full disclosure: I’ve gotten more emails from John McCain than I received from Hillary Clinton (makes you want to say huh?). I’m on everyone’s list and as an advertising/public relations professional, sign up for many promos to analyze and critique how candidates and companies handle everything from issues to new product intros.

I trust everyone reading this blog to make an informed choice for President in the fall. Examine the issues. Don’t blindly accept Hillary’s endorsement of Barack.

Barack Obama knows he has to earn your vote. Just because he earned mine long ago doesn’t mean he won’t work to earn yours.

And, with my politico friends, I’m the first to say when there’s a BOM – “Barack Obama Misstep.” Like 10 days ago during the Rick Warren faith based interview. McCain was on point, offering short easy-to-understand answers. News and opinions folks could use—not info that was over everyone’s heads.

But, true to form, Barack’s team (and he’s working with the best in the business, in my view) “went to the videotape”, analyzed their missteps, and are (undoubtedly) coaching their candidate to finish first by tweaking messages to bite size “Twitter” text blurbs (140 characters or less).

Keep an open mind. Analyze what’s going right. Discuss what you don’t like.

Examine the issues and then vote with conviction. Because I believe in the power of politics and effective persuasive techniques, I trust you’ll make the right decision on Nov. 4.

This historically unique election season provides an opportunity for multicultural educators and marketers like me, to dig deep and use what we know, passing along valuable insight to the next generation.

Our opinions matter and they can certainly affect change.

Pat Tobin
Founder, National Black Public Relations Society
A “Dash” of Brilliance

Marketing communications professionals gathered June 27 in Los Angeles for a fond farewell to Pat Tobin (1943 - 2008), business leader, community relations advocate and founder of the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS).

Pat expired June 10 after a valiant battle with cancer; she was 65.

A timeless spirit and tireless in her contributions, she seemed much younger than her chronological age. Pat was one of those souls who connected with everyone. We often shared professional stories and a passion for our young men (her grandson, Aaron Curry and my son, Clinton Jackson), trading photos and stories about ice hockey and baseball practices.

Known for her work on the Toyota account, among others, understand as American companies lost market share, Tobin & Associates work was and is responsible for the growth of that Japanese company’s market share among ethnic consumers. Pat’s daughter Lauren will continue that tradition, as community relations spokesperson—that’s a wonderful legacy Pat can be proud of!

In the world of PR it pays to know who has influence … who can make the connections … who has a pulse on the community.

The consulting world has always included a veil of mystique. By carefully examining the life of Pat Tobin, people are in a better position to understand the driving force of professional excellence.

At a tribute hosted by the Black Public Relations Society of New York, organization founder Teresa Lyles Homes said, "Make sure, as Pat did that the 'dash' means something as you live your life."

Pat will be missed, but the brilliance of her smile and contributions lives on in all who knew her.
Memorial donations may be made to the Pat Tobin Scholarship Fund or Pat Tobin Memorial Fund, 4929 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 245, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

Fiscal & Physical Fitness

Question: Is your fiscal house in order? Why not use September and the onset of fall as a motivational touchpoint to plan 3Q (3rd quarter) finances and budget projections for ’09 (it’s never too soon to plan ahead). As the summer winds down, I try to cross check finances, chart career/personal/business development, delve into new advocacy projects and devise ways to reach “the next phase.”

Here’s one thing I’ve learned in nearly a half-century on the planet. We all grow in unique ways. I find my attention wanes for those who don’t share the same trajectory. Wisdom comes in knowing that’s okay. Everyone won’t share your same goals. The trick is to keep moving forward. For me, these days it’s more fun to set a new course instead of following others.

That said, check out “Fighting the War Against Distraction,” a fantastic article in the July 1 edition of the New York Times.