By: Chyenne Tatum
Hello and welcome to February! We all know that this month is associated with quite a few things: falling in love, celebrating love, avoiding all lovey-dovey couples that remind us of how single we are and (if it applies to you) being black and proud! There are many prominent figures in African-American history that we recognize for paving the way in the black community and their professions have varied from all types of fields. However, we rarely talk about black PR professionals who are killing the game and advocating for racial diversity in media and communications. That is why I have put together a list of nine African-American founders, presidents and CEOs of PR businesses and corporations.
Robin E. Beaman
Who she is: President of Beaman Incorporated
What she does: According to her LinkedIn, Beaman’s agency was founded on doing innovative work that gives its clients maximum publicity, increased sales, and heightened brand awareness. Robin also serves on several boards, including the Diversity Advisory Board at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Youth Advisory Board at the Apostolic Church of God,
How she got there: Beaman earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University and her Master of Science degree from the Kogod School of Business at American University. She began her amazing career in 1981 when she became director of public relations at The Capital Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C. In 1984, she accepted a position at Black Entertainment Television (BET) and created the company’s first public relations division as its public relations manager. Shortly after, she was promoted to director of consumer marketing and public relations.
Who she is: Founder and CEO of The Garner Circle PR
What she does: According to her website, Nicole has leveraged her resources by creating an enterprise consisting of The Cosmetic Circus (a beauty business investment agency), The Entrepreneurs Ivy League (an online platform to empower entrepreneurs) and The Pink Lemonade Stand (a non-profit fostering entrepreneurship for girls’ ages 8 – 17 yrs. old). She’s also written two books on female entrepreneurship and a guide to PR in fashion, music, entertainment and film.
How she got there: Nicole graduated from Georgia State University and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Beginning her career under the tutelage of some of the industry’s most famous entertainment and celebrity publicists, Nicole then realized her passion for the lifestyle side of PR. She’s worked with numerous clients, such as Ciara, Estelle, BET, MTV, VH1 and many more household names.
Who she is: Founder of GQ Media & Public Relations, media strategist, celebrity publicist, writer and producer
What she does: According to Huffington Post, Gwendolyn Quinn is a global award-winning media strategist and consultant with a career of more than 25 years in communications, entertainment and media. Throughout her career, she’s worked with some of the industry’s most well-known stars, including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Prince, Queen Latifah and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs among countless others. Her publicity and marketing firm specializes in developing media strategies, coordinating special events and brand development for clients of music, theatre, corporate, non-profit, faith-based and the visual and fine arts.
How she got there: Music has always been a huge part of her life and career as a publicist and public relations executive for more than 15 years, and she has been in entertainment for more than two decades. Gwendolyn’s first public relations position at a record company came in 1991 when she became Publicity Coordinator at Mercury/PolyGram in New York.
Who she is: President and CEO of PR et Cetera, Inc., Chief Information Officer for Tracy African-American Association (TAAA)
What she does: According to her LinkedIn, the company assists the communications/media relations/promotional needs of a rising number of prominent individual, corporate and non-profit entities throughout the country.
How she got there: In the company’s earliest days, Toni promoted events for friends and acquaintances without charge to familiarize the public with her work. One such promotion led to her to her first paying client, Tavis Smiley, author, civic activist, and then host of the widely popular one-hour nightly talk show on national cable station, Black Entertainment Television, BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley.
Who she is: Founder of The Center of Leadership, Love & Relationships (LLR Center), host of The Chair podcast
What she does: According to her LinkedIn, Ramona currently empowers others as an integrative wellness life coach, host of The Chair podcast and founder of The Center of Leadership, Love & Relationships (LLR Center). Many can relate to her, especially women, because she has moved through professional changes and challenges and has overcome personal hardships including homelessness and dysfunctional relationships.
How she got started: Ramona has had 15 years of experience in strategic communication and she taught public relations and social media marketing at her alma mater, Loyola Marymount University. She’s worked in the corporate, non-profit and tech sectors and is the fund manager for a STEAM internships initiative promoting underrepresented multi-cultural youth.
Other interesting facts: In 2011, Ramona was named one of the “Top African American Public Relations Agents”by MadameNiore.com, and she wrote and produced a Telly Award winning Public Service Announcement (PSA) about homelessness featuring Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Ryan Seacrest.
Who she is: Co-founder of Serene MGMT
What she does: According to the Huffington Post, Serene Management is a branding, PR, marketing and event company specializing in the entertainment and lifestyle industries. Nia manages her PR clients from her office in New York. Currently she represents Dr. Arabia Mollette; a podcast host, and physician from the Bronx, New York.
How she got there: Nia became interested in PR after interning with Priscilla Clarke of Clarke and Associates when she was a sophomore at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Once her internship was over at Clarke and Associates, she earned a position with 66 Raw Radio, a broadcast digital platform. While working at the radio station, Nia fell in love with photography, videography, sales, and of course events and PR. She landed the position as Director of Events and PR.
Who she is: Co-founder of Serene MGMT, along with her business partner Nia Rice
What she does: According to Huffington Post, Megan considers herself an event specialist and up-and-coming publicist. Her day-to-day duties for Serene MGMT include contract negotiations, the facilitation of all legal and business documents for the company, event coordination and some occasional PR, marketing and branding outreach.
Why she’s passionate about PR: Megan loves being able to unapologetically unleash her creativity through PR
Who he is: Founder of 4.0 Public Relations in Chicago
What he does: Kevin’s firm specializes in sports and entertainment public relations, marketing, branding and advertising.
How he got started: According to Huffington Post, he discovered the art of public relations in high school. His first PR project was with Tammy Brawner of the Harlem Globetrotters. She became a client, and within two months, Kevin secured placements for her with BET’s Celebrity Basketball Game, among other celebrity games. He also landed a hosting opportunity with the National Musical Artist Wale, and media placements with “Black Hollywood Live” and “CBS Radio,” among others.
Other interesting facts: Kevin mentors young teenage boys on the West Side of Chicago and teaches them how to play various sports while motivating them to pursue college. He also collects toys and clothing items during the winter for the homeless and less fortunate children.
Who she is: Founder of Brooks PR Solutions, vice president of National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C. chapter
What she does: According to Huffington Post, Ciara’s daily duties involve research on her client’s goals and objectives as well as creating strategies to build brand awareness. She helps produce the Executive Meet and Greet, which is an annual event that prepares members of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C.’s chapter to network with leading personalities in the Washington, D.C area.
How she got there: Ciara became interested in public relations once her mother suggested it during her years in high school. Her first public relations position was as an intern with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which happens to be the largest federal employee union representing over 700,000 federal and Washington, D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas.
Why she loves PR: What Ciara loves most about PR is the results. She likes to measure the hard work that she’s put into an organization or company that assisted in her growth and development as a PR professional.
Who she is: President of the National Black Public Relations Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter, founder and principal of Audacious Publicity and Management Group
What she does: According to Huffington Post, Antonice’s role as President of NBPRS is to ensure clarity, efficacy and consistency of messaging to the chapter office as well as the national office. She led the affairs and activities of a ten-member executive board, with more than 70 chapter members. She also serves as the chapter’s spokesperson, serving as a liaison between national leadership and other local chapters across the country.
How she got there: Her first public relations and communications position was as a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda, Maryland. During Antonice’s two-year tenure, she assisted in minority and community outreach initiatives, led social media and strategic communications campaigns for fireworks safety, minority outreach and the Safe Sleep campaign.
Why she loves PR: Antonice loves the opportunity to engage and connect with people and she values each relationship. Sometimes a new relationship doesn’t always result in a placement for a client, but the connection often develops into other opportunities.