The Road More Traveled: Why Black PR Professionals are Creating Their Own Agencies

inspirational-quote-by-giantsqurlIt’s no secret that diversity is lacking in public relations, particularly at the executive level of agencies and corporations. Not only have Caucasian women struggled to break into executive positions, but black men and women have also found their challenges in the profession as well. I’ve talked about this issue in a previous blog post and have given my thoughts on what it’ll take to get more men of color interested in PR. In the weeks since this post, however, I was intrigued to find that the Public Relations Society of America has efforts to increase the presence of minorities in the profession through its foundation. It just so happens that my department chair, Dr. Rochelle Ford, APR, happens to be a trustee for this foundation.

Speaking of Dr. Ford, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her as a research assistant. The project we’re currently working on involves creating high-level messages for the National Black Public Relations Society’s upcoming annual conference. While I can’t disclose the exact findings based on their recent survey, there’s one common trend that I’ve found interesting:

More experienced black professionals are opting to start their own agencies rather than climb the corporate ladder into an executive level position.

It’s apparent to me that blacks, as well as other minorities and Caucasian women, are tired of waiting for the doors of the executive level to be opened to them. Instead of waiting for their chance, underrepresented PR professionals are taking their career destiny into their own hands by becoming employers instead of remaining employees.

This trend is in line with my thinking at times as it pertains to pursuing my career goals in PR. Even at the entry-level, I experienced the same frustrations breaking into the PR profession. In the summer of 2009, I was one of thousands of Detroit teenagers and young adults who went through the excruciating process of applying for a job through the city’s summer youth employment program. To make a long story short, I spent what nearly felt like eight hours waiting in lines to go through the bureaucratic process of potential employment only to have never been contacted regarding where to report for my job site. It was this experience that motivated me to create my own opportunities upon graduating from Northwood as I established myself as a freelance consultant two years later.

Just as I didn’t want to wait for a job opportunity in PR to present itself to me, black mid-career professionals aren’t waiting around to move into executive level positions. Life is too short to wait on the things we truly want out of it. There is nothing wrong with creating the life you want, even if it means taking risks and being uncomfortable. Perhaps by more professionals starting their own firms, corporations in need of high-level PR will take notice of the vast array of capable talent out there and begin to diversify their executive offices.

My Road Map to a Successful Career in PR

This week is my first of two weeks off from my master’s program at Syracuse University. While I don’t have a blog post that’s due for a class, I figured that I’d maintain a habit of blogging every week as I’ll be doing the same starting fall semester for my advanced writing class.

Anyway, to pick up where I left off with my last blog post, I’m definitely pleased so far with my decision to pursue a master’s degree in public relations. Perhaps what I’ve been most thankful for is my ability to use my course projects for my portfolio to share with prospective employers. Now that the summer session is over I’m turning my attention to finding internship and job opportunities, preferably with nonprofit organizations.

tumblr_l4zu1eCcMv1qa9gi9o1_400It’s really no secret why I have a special interest in nonprofits. As you know, I’ve been telling the stories of organizations in Detroit for four years prior to enrolling at Syracuse. What hasn’t always been clear though were my ultimate career goals. However, as I’ve had time to prepare and embrace what I want from my program I’ve determined four career paths which I wish to pursue:

  1. Nonprofit PR for youth-serving organizations – The work that I’ve done with organizations in Detroit the past few years have been some of my greatest accomplishments as a professional. After I’d see an organization get published for their work in the Detroit News or Detroit Free Press I’d always say to myself, “Man, I can’t wait to make a career out of this!” After all, there are few things better than showcasing youth in a positive light.
  2. Community relations for professional sports teams – This one is kind of a new interest for me. My interest in this as a career choice became clearer as I’ve thought of ways to combine my love of community and sports. Specifically, I love the work that Sam Abrams does with the Detroit Tigers as he’s constantly informing local baseball coaches of ways to get their youth involved with the team’s programs.
  3. Running my own small communications firm – With the way the economy sometimes works, it’s no wonder why people are taking control of their own futures by working for themselves. Sure, the idea of finding and maintaining clients is scary as they are your primary source of income, but it’s also just as rewarding to be your own boss and have more control over your schedule.
  4. Teaching at the college/university level – I’m really intrigued by the idea of being able educate and train the next generation of communications professionals. With time, I think it’d be cool to develop a PR program from scratch and turn it into one of prestige. Pursuing this as a career path may require some additional years of school, but at least Ph.D.’s get paid for by the university, and not the other way around!

As the fall semester starts it’ll be interesting to see where my grad school experiences lead me. One thing I’m confident of though is that now that I have an idea where I want to go I can use my connections at Syracuse to create a plan for getting there.

Shooting for the Moon: How I Made My Decision to Pursue Graduate School

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Last Friday afternoon I took a major step towards pursuing a career in public relations by officially sending my security deposit for the Master of Science in Public Relations program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Getting to this point was a long journey that started around the beginning of September. From researching the top graduate PR programs to actually making a decision between the five schools I was accepted into, the long process has finally played itself out in order for me to come to this decision.

But, how did I get to this point to begin with? That’s an interesting story…

Continue reading “Shooting for the Moon: How I Made My Decision to Pursue Graduate School”

Something Worth Chasing

I couldn't tell you what these guys are chasing...But me? I'm chasing my dreams.

I remember this one time I was taking the Greyhound bus home for a weekend to make it to a Tigers’ game the next day.  On the way from Flint to Detroit, I was chilling out and listening to my mp3 when I noticed this boy who was trying to spit game to this chick.  I kind of watched him as he struck out swinging trying to get this girl’s phone number and other info (personally, I thought the guy was mentally off to begin with…).  She would keep telling him things like, “It’s nice to meet you and all, but I’m not really interested in trying to know you or get into a relationship right now.”  She saw me watching and we both chuckled and shook our heads (seriously, the guy was slow).  And my first thought was: “Man!  It sucks to be a woman!”

I’m sure we’ve all seen and/or been a part of cases like these.  Whether it’s that girl walking past you in the mall, or (for the ladies) that guy in the club, I’m sure you’ve found yourself pursing someone who you knew was probably way out of your league.  But this isn’t just limited to pursuing a soul mate (or a booty-call if that’s more of your thing).  We as people find ourselves pursing things like cars, houses, and all those new gadgets that become obsolete in six months.  These things are so far out of our reach, they come off like the English Premier League in soccer to our “Major” League Soccer in North America (for those who aren’t familiar with soccer leagues, think of the NFL compared to arena football, or MLB to Independent League baseball).  And ironically, they all have one thing in common: more often than not, these are temporary materialistic things that you can’t take with you when you pass away. Believe it or not, there is only one thing out there that you have that no one can take from you: your goals and dreams.

Let me tell you about something I’ve recently started (and part of my reason for starting this blog).  I recently established myself as a freelance publicist; except, I call it something different.  The name of my side gig is the same as my username – abrothanamedCed: The Marketing Communications Artist.  I see myself as more than a publicist who can write-up a good news release.  It’s why I expand my services to whatever is necessary to market my clients and partners to the best of what I’m capable.  Check out my website at http://www.abrothanamedCed.com.  How long do I plan to keep up with “abrothanamedCed”?  Until I establish myself as an official small marketing firm, or until I find that one company I decide I want to take over.

Logos, websites, business cards? It costs alot now. But it's the long-run that matters.

How does this relate to chasing my dreams?  Well, as you may be aware (or should be by now) I’m a recent college graduate.  And as some of you also know, the question you get asked the most is, “so, whatcha gon’ do now?”  My main goal after graduation was to be able to stay in the Detroit area.  Having matured and living here a while, I’ve grown to appreciate the city (believe me, as a kid I used to hope this place would burn to the ground).  So you can imagine that I haven’t been much of a fan of the criticism the city has taken lately.  It’s like this once proud city of more than a million citizens has become America’s punchline of now fewer than 800,000.  Call me crazy, but I’m one of those who thinks the city can bounce back one day.  And you know what’s even crazier?  I want to be a part of the turnaround.  Whereas others get their kicks-and-giggles living “La Vida Loca” in cities like the NYC and LA, I find that there’s something to be said about making it in the D.  I guess you can say I get my thrills from being the underdog.  After all, If I go down, I’d rather do it swinging!

That’s just my lengthy example!  The point is, your dreams and goals are the only things really worth chasing.  Men and women, money and cars, clothes, jewelry and gadgets, all of these things are only temporary.  Like I said in my first post, do what you love to do and these things will come along in the process.  At the end of the day, how would you feel if you couldn’t say that you didn’t spend at least a couple of days in your life pursuing your goals, dreams and passions?  But, whatever you do, don’t let me tell you what your dreams and goals are.  If your goal in life is to get “the hottest chick in the game wearing your chain” (Jay-Z quote), more power to you!  Just make sure it’s something really worth pursuing in the grand scheme of things.

Oh, and by the way: since I know I may not make money with abrothanamedCed right away, I accepted a full-time job with BNP Media!  Those student loans don’t payoff themselves you know.  Anyway, I start tomorrow, so wish me luck!