Monday, October 12, 2009

The New World Order
2010 Census Recognizes Demographic Shifts

Today’s Advertising Age story about the major shift in American demographics provides a revelation to all who thought the United States was a monolithic society.
If you truly believed that, you’ve been living in the dark ages, to say the least.
For those of us who have known the deal for decades, it’s old news.

Alas, that’s okay. It takes some of us a while to become fully awake, particularly marketers charged with taking the easy way out and trying to sell products and services to us as a single group. Today’s audiences demand unique, true pitches to obtain their hard-earned dollars. And, since dollars are limited in this economic downturn, it’s even more important to listen to customers.

To develop your own perspective on American demographic shifts, check out the complete story at

Marketing minds may want to pay $249 for the white paper, or just wait until the info is published by the government and crunch your own numbers. Pay attention to the signs, in today’s info overloaded marketplace, data is king. Learn to understand numbers and how to make them work in your favor. If you’re still in school or considering a graduate degree, a course in statistics could prove invaluable!

Since my entire career has been built on niche, one-to-one marketing to special audiences, I feel like a true pioneer. It proves that it’s important to build a career around your passion. Trust me on this one; it can result in untold rewards. For me, I combined my love of writing and talking with event management, advocacy and public service. Voila! A career in public relations was born in the early 80s; that was back in the day when no one really knew what that was and my journalism friends thought I was selling out.

A quarter century later, friends and the industry at large is finally catching up and it's a beautiful thing.

Listen: The New Buzz Word

If you’re a communications panel junkie like me, you begin to quickly spot industry trends. It’s common sense, but as we know, common sense is not common. So, here’s the tip of the day—listen to your audiences.

By listening, you will:

> Understand what makes your customers/readers/students tick;
> Be in a better position to develop products/services to meet their needs;
> Grow your own business/consultancy;
> Feel good about the info you’re sharing because you’re not simply taking people on a meaningless ride to nowhere;
> Realize time is money and you must have something valuable to impart or you’ll loose customers to a more engaging conversation, website, pitch or tweet.

A Decade Can Fly By
Y2K > Y2K+10

It just dawned on me that it’s nearly a DECADE after Y2K. Time is flying; a decade has passed in a nanosecond. For those of you who are two young to remember, there was predicted gloom and doom when the calendar changed from 1999 to 2000. It was suspected that computers might crash. Multinational companies called in scores of consultants to make sure their infrastructures could handle the threat of computer espionage.

Nothing earth-shattering happened. On January 1, we’ll welcome Y2K+10.
Pride & Perseverance
To Those Whom Much is Given (or Earned), Much is Expected

President Barack Obama’s selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize causes us all to take pause. Here’s a man who crafted an educational, career and public service plan, followed his dreams and became the leader of the free world.

Talk about a high achiever!

Now the Nobel Committee has given him the nod and encourages him to make even more of a mark on the global community by helping to bring about world peace. A tall order, but short, steady steps can result in forward progress.

One thing’s for sure, you never know who’s paying attention. Once you do a few good things, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

Let us all leap forward to accomplish all we’ve been put here to do.

To learn more about my encounter with the President and First Lady, scroll down to read about Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Weekend experience.
Always Take Time to Enjoy the Ride

Usually I use my train time to decompress and collect my thoughts. A few weeks ago, my subway seat mate was joined by Peter Kinoy, a film/video editor and colleague at The City College of New York’s Media & Communication Arts Department.

What a treat! We reminisced about the growth of agencies and the impact of new technology on the communications profession. Notably, we thought back to our days as young professionals, and how there were more apprenticeship training programs.

Today’s training program appears to be a graduate degree. Communicators and filmmakers must hit the ground running in order to contribute and keep up with the fast changes in the marketplace. While challenging, these are exciting times!

Film/Video students are fortunate to have him in their midst. Tip: learn all you can from this knowledgeable artist!

Careers in Social Media

I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Check out Peter Himler’s excellent Oct. 6 Art of the PR Career post.

Peter and I worked together years ago, when we were both at Hill and Knowlton, a global communications firm. There, we honed our craft. And, if I might say so myself, we’re both still going strong.

Thanks Peter, for sharing your wisdom with our students!
CBC Foundation ALC ‘09

I recently heard President Barack Obama speak during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (CBCF-ALC), Sept. 23-27 in Washington DC. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to personally set eyes on the Commander in Chief, personally witness his vision for a new America, healthcare for all citizens and witness him and First Lady Michelle Obama in action!

The President was the main attraction for the Phoenix Awards gala, honoring distinguished service in the political arena, including an award to DC native, Rhodes Scholar and US Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Susan Rice.

Founded in 1976, the CBCF has evolved to become Capitol Hill’s premier voice and powerhouse, multiethnic gathering for the politically aware who aim to improve life for underserved audiences.

What Obama said:

> Don’t believe the naysayers or be distracted by the “noise;”
> In 9 short months, there has been positive change and progress in America’s dire economic forecast;
> Affordable healthcare for all Americans is possible; and
> Obama Care can put America on a physically sound path to wellness.

It’s important we learn about these and other important issues affecting our communities. To learn more, visit --

What we can do:

In a word, ACT!

Always work to advance the conversation and create a dialogue with neighbors, community leaders, clients, influentials or elected officials. Millynneum Insight has developed “ACT” a simple, 3-step process to guide your grassroots to global community engagement efforts. How can you or your community group take action?

> ACT: Advocate, Communicate, Tackle

1. Advocate: Serve as an advocate for important issues you believe in, including health care, wellness, safe neighborhoods, better schools, more money for higher education, etc.

a) We must participate in the 2010 “mid-term elections.” According to the CBCF, 20 seats in congress (various districts) could be lost if we don’t get our act together.

b) Make sure you and your neighbors take part in the Census. Do you realize that an accurate census count allocates dollars for health care? An inaccurate count could result in an emergency room near you being closed.

2. Communicate: Share what you know via conversations, word of mouth, face-to-face meetings and sit-downs.

a) If I attended the CBCF-ALC weekend, then it means I have to share the important messages with the CCNY students I teach, academic/business colleagues, family/friends and associates.

b) It sounds simple, but we must rev up the substance of our dialogue and have the discipline to be more effective and get the job done get the job done.

c) This can happen in the barbershop, at your house of worship, in the subway car or shopping mall.

d) We must use each and every opportunity to communicate key messages and make an impact via substantive conversations rather than trivial pursuits.

3. Tackle: Take the initiative to find solutions to difficult problems at home, in your community or on the job.

a) Don’t complain, roll up roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Don’t complain, just bite off one more hour of work. Everyone is overloaded and has limited time. Now is not the time to be lazy, we’re too close to the finish line and too many people throughout the country are counting on us, particularly those without jobs.

b) If you see an opportunity, create a business. Put your neighbors to work.

c) Expand dialogue between diverse audiences. Forge alliances outside your usual circles of impact and influence. Stretch, soar, and do more!

d) Tolerate setbacks and challenges that propel you to the next phase

e) Join Susan Taylor & Co. and participate in an organization like National Cares Mentoring Movement Network

Personally seeing the President and First Lady was a moment my husband Roland and I will cherish for a lifetime. Make plans to attend next year’s CBCF-ALC or simply own your special part of the “Obama Era” by doing your part to make our collective national vision a reality.

The man certainly can’t do it alone. But with all our help, we can change America and we can get to the promised land!

Other CBCF-ALC conference highlights:

Midterm Elections

During a rousing panel titled “From Lincoln to Obama” featuring Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), elected officials pondered where we’ve come and where we must go in order for real change to be woven into the tapestry of American society.

All agreed that it’s critical Americans work together to get out the vote on the local, state and national level this fall and in 2010.

Through the 2008 Presidential Election, there was an electric rallying cry via Candidate Obama, a national “call to action.” Change was the watchword of the day. Now that he’s in office, all Democratic leaders encouraged everyone to do their part to stay motivated and keep the momentum strong.

That will take work, but we are up to the task.

Emerging Leaders

The Emerging Leaders conference track featured strategies used by elected officials under the age of 35 to mobilize and engage all audiences. Know this: Dynamic young people of all races hold a wide range of positions on the local, state and federal level.

It’s a beautiful, humbling and inspiring thing to see!

One panelist mentioned that she was complaining about something in her community, and her mentor encouraged her to run for office. The young woman ran and she won! Now she is charged with implementing policy that can have a positive outcome for her neighbors.

Do something, but don’t disengage. Add to the mix and fix things if you don’t like what’s going on in society.

Tribute to Ed Kennedy

We’ve come tremendously far, but until all Americans are able to partake in the prosperity afforded to some, then we must still continue to march forward. This message was emphasized in a stirring CBCF tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), a champion of issues affecting the downtrodden.

Reconnecting with Old Friends and Making New Alliances

The event was a great way to reconnect with mentors, colleagues and protégés from my 30 years in the media, communications and education business. I felt a sense of pride to just be in the Washington Convention Center and have the opportunity to soak it all in.

Former Howard University classmates are attorneys, lobbyists, activists and business leaders. CCNY Alum Maquita Poole was among the busloads who attended with the staffs of Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY).

I usually attend events like this in proud support and service to clients, working to get their messages across to constituent audiences. In this case, I was present on behalf of my company, Millynneum, in dedicated service to my entire client roster as we develop new programs in service to diverse audiences.
After Caucus Catch Up

Coincidentally, my last official blog post focused on the inauguration. While I managed to at least digitally capture reflections throughout the summer, time was at a premium and I’m just now carving out a few minutes to post those thoughts online.

As we approach 4th quarter, I’m making a commitment to be a lot more regular with my blogging and do even better in 2010. The trick is to get back on track when you get derailed. That goes for blogging or any other important project.

AirTran: A Lesson in Customer Relations

Despite an extensive delay due to mechanical trouble at LaGuardia recently, I have to give the New York gate agents credit. They remained cool, calm and collected as they rebooked nearly 100 customers, and shuttled to a local hotel for a brief rest before departing the next morning.

No one wants to ride plane that hasn’t passed muster by the mechanics. And, we got a free roundtrip!
Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction

If you’re a tri-state are resident, check out Georgia O’Keeffe’s (GO) excellent exhibition at the Whitney Museum. I’ve always been drawn to this dynamic artist, a woman who was truly ahead of her time. Venturing to NYC as a young woman to launch a career as a commercial artist, her mentor/lover was Arthur Steiglitz, a CCNY alum.

A key point to remember is that she maintained ownership of more than half the work she created during her lifetime; she lived to be nearly 100. Now that she’s in the other realm, her work tours and monies go toward supporting the foundation she started which benefits other artists who want to be the next GO.

To be blunt: GO after your dreams. You never know where they make take you.

It may sound morbid, but it’s never too soon to think about your legacy. If you don’t make all the coin, then those you love or causes you care about can ultimately benefit from what you put out into the world each day. Consult your accountant, attorney, estate or financial planner to learn more.

Frank Lloyd Wright: 50th Anniversary of the Guggenheim

This summer, I helped thousands of others celebrate the Guggenheim Museum’s 50th Birthday during the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition. What a priceless Sunday afternoon in Manhattan!

Wright designed the Guggenheim and as an architect was truly ahead of his time.
Exhibitions included a sketch of what I feel is definitely the design for the new Freedom Tower, slated to the built on the former World Trade Center site.

Yes, it’s a new building, designed by contemporary architects. However, I think it’s a testament to Wright’s free-thinking, pr-driven genius and connection of the environment to people and the influence he’s had on generations of artists.

With each generation, we do get better.

If you didn’t catch the exhibit, then buy one of his many books. Or, simply treat yourself to any exhibit at the Guggenheim, where you can marvel at the circular exhibit hall, allowing light, environment, people and beauty to mix in exquisite harmony.

Walking for Wellness

NYC’s recent Indian summer alerted me that I have to get back into my “walking zone;” by body feels best when a have a strong exercise routine. An evening stroll along Central Park West, Columbus Circle and the West Side was simply glorious.

Thinking back, I had a similar stroll last fall. Cherish the simple beauty that is right in front of you. Don’t miss opportunities to take simple snippets of relaxation. They can offer a world of solace and provide sustenance during those days when your body and brain is literally on the run.

And yes, I supported the economy with a few purchases in support of local shopkeepers, hopefully doing my small part to keep them in business.
Alas, patches of the metropolitan streetscape are bare (even ritzy Madison Avenue)
in that businesses can no longer afford ground floor Manhattan office leases.
Brooklyn Block Party: Good Times Meet Tragedy

It’s important to keep your ear to the ground. I have the good fortune of seeing many young people on my block grow up and develop into talented young adults. Some even have children, and it’s wonderful to see them blossom as the next generation of community advocates who are mobilizing communities for positive change.

If you’re a young city-dweller, you eagerly await block parties, which are literally a rite of passage. When collecting donations for our recent block party extravaganza, here in Bed-Stuy, a neighbor shared that a young man she knew was recently killed – I repeat killed during an exchange at a block party in a nearby neighborhood.

Devastating doesn’t begin to explain it. The young man was the boyfriend of a young woman she knew.

Understand that everything doesn’t make the news, but it’s worth noting. Lives cannot continue to be senselessly lost. Whether New York or Chicago, we simply must take back our neighborhoods.

What I’m most proud of is that this young mother, in her 20s, and I went on to have an extensive conversation about values and the importance of raising kids right.
Her parents did such a wonderful job!
August Reflections

Last evening I had the pleasure of submitting grades for my outstanding Entrepreneurship for Media Communications class at The City College of New York. The class of 19 young people was an invigorating mix of talented apprentices in the areas of entertainment/restaurant management, online marketing, retail, home/commercial security and other businesses.

While most are CCNY Media & Communications majors, I had the pleasure of meeting new students in psychology, math, engineering and business.

Field trips included visits the to NYC Business Solutions and the New York Public Library’s Science Business and Industry Library. Both offer year-round advice and complimentary seminars on e-commerce, database development for customers, financial/accounting advice and a wide range of

Our summer semester culminated with winning presentations of business plans and “Entrepreneurial Icon” book reports. Students relayed info about captains of industry during an informal business breakfast exchange at Harlem’s Sylvia’s Restaurant.
The Power of Conversations

Whether it’s at the dentist or at the laundromat, take the time to exchange conversations with those you come in contact with. Connections and human interaction count big.

For example, my dental hygienist, Ala, originally from Russia is a huge Michael Jackson fan just like me. Together, we recounted events of the past 40 years of enjoying his music. In the tradition of Marshall McLuhan’s classic work, The Media is the Message, today’s new world order is a well-connected a global village.

At a recent visit to my neighborhood laundromat, I chatted with neighbors about street scapes and new businesses opening along the Nostrand Avenue corridor.
This as a new friend surveyed a Daily News piece about a man who found $16,500 worth of artwork in the trash.

Always take the time to think and look out of the box. Sometimes there’s a big payday. You creative types understand what I’m talking about. Yesterday, I took a few hours to craft a plan for a new business, including a franchise idea. Then, I took a few extra moments and purchase the domain name.

It only takes a few minutes to get started. We all know that online real estate is the first step towards pay dirt, right? After that, momentum takes over. Even if this idea doesn’t turn out to be a gold mine, I’ve kept my mental juices going and created my own gold rush of imagination and excitement!

What’s your new business idea? Go to and start building an enterprise for $10.

Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion

According to author Gary Vaynerchuk, a 33-year-old self-trained wine and social media expert, anyone can cash in on their passion. He recently appeared on CNN’s Your Money show, which airs Saturday afternoon.

Gary made a fortune by adding a digital component to his family’s New Jersey wine business. Business exploded and he revolutionized the wine industry in the process. How? By caring deeply about his audience and understanding the lifestyle, likes and dislikes of people who are passionate about wine.

I may check him out during his Oct. 13 book launch at the Borders at 10 Columbus Circle. Of, if we miss that special event, we can always order Crush It! via

Walter Cronkite—That’s the Way It Is

Alas, another icon has gone to the other realm. Many younger media professionals aren’t familiar with the impact Walter Cronkite had on the media industry.

Catch tonight’s CBS tribute: “That’s the Way it Is: Remembering Walter Cronkite,” commemorating the newsman’s signature nightly sign off; definitely a good lesson in personal branding. Watch the special and develop your own style with sensitivity to fairness, accuracy. Above all, Cronkite was passionate about all that he did.
Listen Up! African Americans
Obama’s NAACP 100TH Anniversary Speech

If you haven’t heard it already, check out President Barack Obama’s 100 Anniversary Speech to the NAACP. It’s a classic and a keeper—something you’ll want to share with family members, friends and all in your community.

In sum, it’s a mission driven speech to his “own folk” that’s full of passion. Bounce the link far and wide:

Fresh on the heels of his trip to Ghana, the speech crystallizes the transition of Africans to the new world and the pioneering work the NAACP has done since 1909.
Founded by famed scholar W.E.B. DuBois and others under the Niagara Movement banner, the multicultural organization is something all Americans can be proud of

As Obama said during his address to conferees, “I stand on the shoulders and backs” of those who walked before me.

We all do.
Mid-Year Catch Up and Lessons from Michael Jackson

As “Michaelmania” subsides, I’d like to shed a little perspective on what we’ve witnessed over the past two weeks since Michael Jackson’s death.

Full Disclosure: I've been in serious "MJZ/Michael Jackson Zone" as I’ve taken in the personal branding / image building / barrier breaking / crisis communications story of a lifetime. Yes, I purchased CDs and DVDs, baseball caps and t-shirts from street vendors for myself, family and friends. I was proud to be on 125th Street in Harlem to experience the Apollo Theater tribute. You just had to be in the mix to experience the cool vibe ... there were satellite trucks to beam the celebration throughout the world in all languages! Those waiting in the bright sunshine were huddled masses that represented the cross-cultural mosaic of MJ fans.

Sales/media visibility wise MJ totally displaced President Barack Obama for two weeks -- which is simply mind blowing! It shows the power of the entertainment business and influence of global pop culture. If something resonates in your soul (as MJ’s music did for his fans), you just can’t get it out of your system until the feelings cycle through and pass on. MJ’s death was Topic A for conversations in my Entrepreneurship for Media Communications class at CCNY, as well as at barbershops and bus stops.

However, don’t think we’re totally “We are the World” yet. There’s still a lot of work to do right here in the US. Just this week, 65 young African Americans and their chaperones from a summer camp were asked to leave a pool outside Philadelphia this week after flack from members who preferred not to have their kind in the water with them, despite a personal invitation from the president of the private club. However, the president was forced to rescind the swimming offer after pressure from his board of directors.

Now they’re in hot water and a Michael Jackson soundtrack can’t make these stories sound any better because ethnic people of a certain age have seen this before. Racism and lack of respect are messages that resonate deep inside your soul.

Or, consider that African American photographers from the Black Press were denied press credentials to cover the MJ Staples Center memorial this past week (July 2009). The arrogant denial of the contributions made by leading ethnic media is something I’ve also experienced in my career. We must stay vigilant.

Scroll down for the full story from the LA Sentinel.

As a consultant working on the Listen Up! Quincy Jones documentary years ago, I politely had to explain to studio publicity/marketing execs why Ebony, Jet, the Amsterdam News and other ethnic press had to be credentialed for the Apollo premiere, in addition to Entertainment Tonight and other mainstream outlets.
Thankfully, the Warner Bros. execs listened.

Years later, Spike Lee pressed Warner Bros. for ethnic firms to be included in the marketing mix for the promotion of Malcolm X. Purposefully, we all kept pushing. The result: a wildly successful African American Media Day whereby the Black Press got a “sneak peak” at the film, which was a public relations first and publicity/goodwill media bonanza!

Change happens … one step at a time. Everyone is a foot soldier to ensure that our rights, images or messages don’t get stomped on.

We must to remember to pay attention to the subtleties of all the news and work to right the ills of society in our own backyard. Don’t let people get a “pass;” press forward to break barriers. That’s what MJ did; that’s an important lesson to learn.
As PR practitioners, we have the opportunity to move the discussion forward and channel new solutions to age old problems that have taken on slightly different tones.

I’m someone who grew up on MJ’s music and still remember talking about the Jackson 5 in the church parking lot after choir rehearsal. Yes “Right On” magazine covers and fold out posters covered my bedroom walls.

Michael Jackson had impact. Not only as the world’s greatest entertainer, but as a humanitarian and celebrity entrepreneur who can also teach us a little about the importance of work-life balance. We should all take a look at our lives and push ourselves a little bit harder – just not to the breaking point. We have to understand too much of any one thing (even work) can send you off kilter – and sometimes be a killer.

Dodson on Jackson

Check out Howard Dodson’s blog for an insightful perspective on the life, legacy and emotional struggles of MJ. Dodson is Chief of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Located at 135th Street and Malcolm X (Lenox) Boulevard, the center is the nation’s leading repository of black history and literature and part of the New York Public Library. Artists, scholars, musicians and rappers consume a wide range of resources to insure their creations are historically accurate. Never underestimate the power of research!

Get in the Know—At the Library

Thursday, my CCNY Entrepreneurship for Media Communications class visited New York Public Library - Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th and Madison;

Director of Training Janet Bogenshultz, provided an excellent primer of what’s available at the world’s largest business library open to the public. SIBL features databases and resources comparable to what’s available at leading university business schools. All info is complimentary – paid for with your tax dollars. You can also take advantage of free courses in e-commerce, list creation/database development, green jobs and other important business trends.

This just in from the Los Angeles Sentinel

Black Press Photographers Denied Access at Michael Jackson's Memorial - Was it AEG or the Jackson Family?
by Yussuf Simmonds
Assistant Managing Editor, Los Angeles Sentinel
Originally posted 7/8/2009

LOS ANGELES (NNPA) - Historically the Black press has been covering Black artists, entertainers and other well-known personalities when no else would, primarily out of a sense of duty, responsibility and pride in order to showcase their talent to the world. That included Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, when they were at the beginning of their rise to stardom.

So it was not surprising that the Black press came out in full force to cover Jackson’s memorial at the event that was described as a virtual sea of Blackness. Yet, photographers representing the Los Angeles Sentinel – the oldest and largest Black newspaper on the West Coast; Ebony and Jet magazines – two of the largest Black publications in the world; and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) – a federation that represents more than 200 Black publishers across the United States were not credentialed to take photos inside the Staples Center during the memorial of Michael Jackson.

“This is a recurring theme; this is constantly happening to the Black press all over the country,” says Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., the newly elected chairman of the NNPA (the Black Press of America) and executive publisher of the Sentinel. “This has got to stop. I am declaring today on their behalf that we are going to take on companies, associations and media outlets that overtly disrespect, disregard and devalue the Black press.”

It was rather apparent that the promoters of the event (AEG, the company that owns the Staples Center) did not think it was important to allow access to all the credentialed media personnel - particularly those carrying cameras. Three African-American photojournalists related their experiences to the Sentinel – three similar incidents that happened separately to three different individuals whose only common traits were that they were Black.

As a photojournalist for many years, Malcolm Ali has covered many events throughout the country. He said, “While at the memorial, I was contacted by the Sentinel to get my credential from Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was just arriving at the gate. As I left the area, the police confronted me and I told them I was going to get my credentials, and that I already had my LAPD press pass.” After getting his pass, he still was not allowed to get inside the Staples Center. “I learned that there were press cameras in there (the Staples Center) that were authorized by AEG included Getty Images and other Wire Services,” he also said.

“They’re the biggest photo distribution house in the world; they sell photos,” Ali continued, “They send their photographers to major events, capture these images and they upload them on their website, then and sell them to (Black) newspapers, and magazines throughout the world. To do this, they have to make a deal with AEG that they (Getty Images) will provide the pool of photographers (for the event) and everyone has to buy from them. And this locks outs the smaller newspapers especially the Black press.”

Expressing similar sentiments Bakewell commented, “We understand that AEG sells the exclusive rights to photography to wire services. One time before, Black reporters were denied access to a concert with Prince because they have an exclusive with some of the artists. The problem however, is that many of the Black artists, who we love, on the way up; they go up on the ‘elevator of the Black press’ and when they reach the top, they won’t let the elevator back down to pick the Black press up to shoot them anymore.”

Shon Smith is a professional photographer with D’Angelus Photos; she was another photographer who was denied access to the memorial. “When I got there the first set of officers saw my blue wrist band (identification for the media) and let me through the barricade,” she said, “That was to allow me access to places where others were not allowed. I was following other photographers when an officer called me to get out of the line.

There were a group of White photographers ahead of me.”

According to Smith, she made a left turn nearby where more of the press corps was located, an individual in a red jacket – Staples Center security personnel – asked her to stand on the other side. She told him, “All these other photographers are right here and he said ‘that’s them, you need to stand over here.’ Well who are they with?

‘They are with us’. We all have blue bands. ‘I could get you arrested’. I told them that I was with the Los Angeles Sentinel, but that did not seem to matter.”

The police officer then told her to go behind the barricade. Smith, who was also shooting photos to be published by the NNPA News Service, said she was not allowed to go places where other White photographers were taking pictures. Eventually she came to the realization, “It was because I’m Black; I’m a woman and I wasn’t all dressed up, but I had on a professional jacket and I was carrying a $3,000 camera. It was obvious what I was doing. They never let me into Staples Center, but I believed they did let a female Black photographer in but they took her camera and then her wristband and made her exit the building. I believed I was singled out because I was a Black woman with dreadlocks.”

Bakewell went on to say, “The irony of all this is that the Black press was covering Michael Jackson and his family over the last 40 years with endearment, accuracy, affection and pride when no one else was covering him. The Black press defended him when no one else defended him. Now, at his final tribute, the Black photographers are denied. Furthermore, after the Black press helps many of the Black artists to reach the top, they do not use their status and their influence to require parity to the Black press.

When they make movies, plays and records, they do not demand that the Black press be included in the budgets to promote their work. And that’s unconscionable, a violation of their own family ethic; while the Michael Jackson is front and center, this is a malignancy that exists in Black America.”

Valerie Goodloe is an ace photographer; she shoots for Ebony and Jet magazines, and she was denied access to the Staples Center. Goodloe said, “We’re made invisible when it comes to large events that are African-American driven; we are shoved to the side. Even though Revs. Jackson and Al Sharpton were working on my behalf to get me credentials along with the pool photographers from the L.A. Times and the New York Times, it just didn’t work out.” Though she went inside with Rev. Jackson she was not allowed to take any pictures. “AEG sent a person downstairs and said that I was not going to be credentialed.”

Rev. Jackson was the only individual who stood up to demand that the Black press have equal access to the Jackson memorial. The staff of Rev. Al Sharpton also pushed for credentials for the NNPA News Service, but to no avail.

Calls were made to AEG but there was no response.

Perspective: Our Mission as PR Pros

Many reputable organizations commented on this summer’s New York Times Story, Spinning the Web: PR in Silicon Valley.

In my view, it's all about perseverance and staying goal oriented -- these types of "thorns" and other worldly thinking will always be out there. The strategic contributions are key but the social media implications are only going to increase. The thoughts of this young woman will gain traction with some folks, no matter how you slice it!

As educators, we try to teach students to connect the dots, aka critical thinking.
Young professionals must gain knowledge, stay nimble and understand "nuance" in order to succeed in service to their clients, constituencies or communities.

Father’s Day Reflections

Remember to take time out for Dad, not just on his special day, but throughout the year. While my Dad is no longer in the “land of the living,” his lessons live on: a love for learning, work, perseverance and patience.

Me, I’m more of a risk taker. But I’m able to take those risks after being guided in the fundamentals of success, based on wisdom from my husband, parents, in-laws, former bosses, professors, mentors and other great men in my life.
Take an “LSJ-Day”

While I’m a self-prescribed workaholic, today I took what is hereby dubbed an “LSJ-Day” or a few hours of downtime to rev up my game.

I love to write, teach and run my business. The great thing is none of these vocations seem like work to me, it’s simply how I make a living. Today, I just took time to reconnect with myself, my family and fuel my passions.

Everyone, even a workaholic needs fuel (read: remember to eat) to keep going!

Support the Economy (If You Can)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve supported local entrepreneurs including:
> Abu’s Bakery (Bedford & Fulton – Bed-Stuy)
> Nepal-born jeweler (West 3rd & Sullivan - Greenwich Village; exquisite work)
> Numerous Harlem street vendors (125th & 145th Streets)

The economic melt-down encourages us all to scour the streets for deals. For me, an eclectic shopper, I look forward to obtaining great deals in little known places.

Retail & Restaurants: In the Ditch

“Space for Rent” and “Out of Business” signs everywhere here in New York. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not gloom and doom, you just have to hunt for bargains. And, the good news is if you have a little cash, it certainly is a buyers market. Whether you’re in an uber cool urban area or suburbia, now is the time to sign a long-term lease, if you’re able.
Open Your Mind

During a recent neighborhood walk I was energized by the Muslim Community as a group left the neighborhood mosque following mid-day prayers.

This was on the heels of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world and again makes me feel proud to be an American and to be alive during this exciting point in history. I bought a copy of the Qu’ran to learn more. Always be open to new schools of thought; don’t allow yourself to be misguided by old ways of thinking.

Soar … learn more!
We Act for Enviornmental Justice

As many of you know, my “main mission” is Distinguished Lecturer, Ad/PR at City College. Part of that work includes service as faculty advisor for WE ACT @ CCNY, a student club.

This week, I attended the 20th Anniversary gala for the club’s “parent” organization, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, founded by Peggy Shepard, coincidentally, a Howard University alum.

Start something. You’ll be amazed at how far your advocacy work can take you and how many people you can help. My blog post won’t do them justice; visit the website to learn more about how you can get involved in climate change initiatives, environmental/food injustice and other important uptown efforts.
LaGrant Foundation :: Pure Inspiration

The Spring 2009 LaGrant Foundation Scholarship Awards at New York University’s Kimmel Center was truly inspirational. It’s wonderful to pause, reflect on how far we’ve come and understand the industry in the hands of distinguished, multicultural students poised to enter the field.

Conceived 11 years ago by Founder/President Kim L. Hunter, the awards ceremony honors up and coming communications talent. Hunter’s goal is “to get these students placed at top firms.”

Their accomplishments are already tremendous. As I spoke with this group of “high achievers,” I thought how fortunate I was to not only be in their presence, but to not have to compete with this crew for a job!

I must offer kudos to CNN American Morning’s Jason Carroll, who stayed more than an hour past his master of ceremony duties to “hold court” with pre-professionals and their families. Sharing, giving, and advising— that’s what it’s about!

Stay on the lookout for exciting plans by a variety of communications orgs who wish to make an impact and take things to the next phase. There is always room for additional scholarships or training programs for sharp young people.

Hats off to McCann Erickson’s Toni Thompson for sponsoring the reception; other
corporate supporters include a long list of contributors such as Hill & Knowlton, one of my professional alma maters.

And, of course the event wouldn’t have been possible without John Doorley and Renee Harris of New York University, and their colleagues Guiliane Blaisane and Fadia Angrand, among others. Kudos to the Lagrant Foundation’s Ericka Avila and a big welcome to Joy Hunter, the foundations new executive director!
What’s On Deck for the Summer

As soon as one semester ends, another begins. Things are moving fast and furious with summer school planning, projects and a preview of what’s to come for the fall.

Make Plans NOW to Attend the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF)
Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) Weekend
September 23-27 :: Washington, DC

This isn’t rocket science. This year’s conclave of politicos, business leaders, entertainers and emerging leaders promises to be the hot ticket. Now that President Obama is in office, we must each chart our short and long-term plans for lasting change.

What better way than to do this on a collective basis?

To register and book your hotel and take advantage of early bird pricing, visit
Early June Reflections

It’s just a wonderful time to be alive! The spring term has ended; summer sessions are in full gear and the world is bustling with options and opportunities. Often, you must take a moment, reflect on recent accomplishments and chart your future course. This helps solidify your action plan for what’s to come. My writing and communication students know I’m BIG on planning and research.

As President Barack Obama addressed the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, visited the Buckenwald concentration camp site in Germany and participated in D-Day celebrations with world leaders in Normandy, France—it reset the worldview of East/West relations.

These actions also cause us to consider what’s possible and probably, if we take a risk, step up and answer our own “calling.”

Soldiers risk life and limb for our freedom on a daily basis. In their honor, we should memorializing their efforts by stepping up on a daily basis to do what we do best.
Org Development & Human Nature

We know planning leads to progress, action and success! Similarly, no plans and no motivation lead nowhere!

Me, I’m a catalyst. As per my company motto: Millynneum is your catalyst for connections in a climate of change! If change isn’t forthcoming, then you have to take your own steps to move your own life forward—no one is going to do it for you, that’s for sure.

Worry is just a big waste of time. Action speaks louder than words.

It’s time for us all to KNOW that anything is possible. But, one thing is probable, nothing will happen without hard work and commitment. Thus, I’ve had to take my own advice and let of some things that aren’t working. Yes, I tend to be somewhat of a perfectionist and workaholic. If I’m not hanging with like minded folks, I tend to not work at my best.

Thus, it’s time to evolve, let go and grow. It’s okay on all fronts and leaves more time for those to work with capable others who share areas of influence and success.

Growth is good!