All posts by Alicia Cooney

Rochelle L. Ford, APR, on Becoming a More Inclusive Communicator

Historian and educator Carter G. Woodson had the vision to create a moment once a year to celebrate and recognize the contributions of African Americans in the United States. Woodson’s vision started with Negro History week in 1926 and, 50 years later, became what we know as Black History Month.

Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States.

Following last year’s revelation to the world of the continuum of systemic racism in America, companies, organizations and individuals across all color lines have embraced the notion of the lack of diversity, and are having more conversations on ways we can heal and move forward becoming a more inclusive nation. This is especially important as communicators.

To create an open dialogue, PRsay reached out to Rochelle L. Ford, Ph.D., APR, who was recently named to #ColorComm28, which recognizes 28 Black women who have made notable contributions to the communications profession.

Ford is a recognized scholar and leader with intensive knowledge of multicultural communications and diversity. She has been published in several academic works and received numerous accolades, including PRSA’s Educator of the Year and the D. Parke Gibson Pioneer Award.

She is currently the dean of the School of Communication and professor of strategic communication at Elon University. Here, she discusses her perspective on how diversity, equity and inclusion are shifting and how we, as practitioners, can join the movement.

With your experience in conducting research around diversity in advertising and public relations, what findings do you think we should be most aware of?

This idea of diversifying our industry and making sure everyone is invited to the party. It is something way past due. We have made strides, but not nearly enough. We can’t take our foot off the pedal. We have to recognize that we have inequities — the systems in the PR industry, how we approach hiring, letting people know what the career pathway is — and we have some built-in systems of inequity. We have to rethink and break down those systems to have a more equitable feel.

We talk about diversity but what is more important is inclusion. Inclusion where people feel like they belong, where they bring their whole self to work, is the goal. When we think about diversity, it is a journey; and inclusion is a journey where we are all learning. It is not a destination where we will ever arrive, but we will always get better.

What does Black History Month mean to you, especially considering the heightened importance of racial injustice following the events of last year?

Every day is an opportunity for Black history, not just a month. There are people, and have been people, who have made contributions to America and the world. We need to recognize that talent. We need to know about those pioneers such as Ofield Dukes, my mentor. We need to know about those Black institutions. If there were not Historical Black Colleges and Universities, there would not be a Black middle class.

Look at the prominent leaders of schools and Greek-letter organizations that have provided scholarship, community service and contributions as a support system to hundreds of college graduates. Black History Month allows us to zoom in to understand and learn about institutions, to learn about people and leaders, and it’s a time for us to reflect for us to know where we need to go.  The struggle is not over. It is better but not over.

In recent years, and particularly this past year, there has been more emphasis on increasing the diversity within communications and marketing. Where would you like to see the profession move?

I want to see the profession move in multiple areas. I want to see our profession reflect the public we serve. We should be a reflection of America… We need to see this in every sector and at every level. It is time that we say we cannot find talent but begin investing in the talent that we have.

As communicators, what can we learn from the experiences and impact of Black history makers?

There are so many lessons to be learned. I learned so much from Ofield Dukes… he was a personal influence model. He had a huge Rolodex of people who were influential and it was his job to be a connector. He taught me the art of networking. He helped teach me the art of putting other people’s needs before your own. He would ask, ‘Hi, Ms. Tillery. What can I do for you?’ He knew that public relations was a two-way street and meeting the needs of the person you were talking with is critical.

I think you can learn lessons from all people. Unique lessons you wouldn’t have learned from African Americans if you hadn’t read, studied and learned about them.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you were just starting out, and what advice would you offer other up-and-coming people of color within this profession? 

I think that it would be a reassurance that there is no one way to success. Everybody will take different turns and struggles, and it is OK. There is not a magical formula. In talking to young people and others, be true to yourself. [Regardless of your ethnicity and race] know who you are, how your experiences have shaped who you are, and be willing and open to learning about someone. To find that common bond that we all have as humans and to grow from there.

Keep your eyes on the prize and learn from your failures. You learn more from your failures than you do from your success. Keep moving.


Article written for PRsay, an extension of Strategies & Tactics, PRSA’s award-winning publication, by LaShana Sorrell, director of brand engagement at Vulcan Park & Museum, home to the world’s largest cast-iron statue. She lives in Birmingham, Ala., with her teenage daughter. 

Cleveland Rocks Winners Announced

CONGRATS TO OUR
2020 CLEVELAND ROCKS WINNERS!

The Cleveland Rocks Awards, PRSA Greater Cleveland’s signature event, recognizes the area’s best in public relations and communications projects and programs. Congratulations to the winners of our 18th annual event!

More than 60 gold, silver and bronze awards were presented to corporations, nonprofits and agencies and their clients in recognition of excellent communication programs and tactics.

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Integrated Communications Campaign, “Home Is Where the Art Is: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Response to the COVID-19 Quarantine,” won the  Best in Show Award.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland received the Judges’ Choice Cleveland Rock Award for its Internal Communications category entry titled, “Most Memorable Day at the Fed Series.”

Fahlgren Mortine, an integrated communications company, was the winner of the Best Communications Tactic Award for its “Creating a Paid LinkedIn Campaign for the City of Independence,” which it entered in the Best Social Media Campaign category for the City of Independence.

Additional winners include:

B2B Campaign

Silver: “LJ Star 2020 Integrated Campaign” by Goldstein Group Communications (for LJ Star)

Gold: “Driven to Succeed: Avery Dennison Performance Tapes Seeks to Accelerate Recognition of its Automotive Portfolio” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Avery Dennison)

Brand and Reputation Management

Silver: “Color and Shape: ChromaScape’s Brand Refresh & Foundational Program” by Falls (for ChromaScape)

Best Use of Influence Promotion

Bronze: “Engaging Micro-Influencers in a Quest to Own Color” by Marcus Thomas (for Behr Paint)

Bronze: “Troy-Bilt Instagram Live | Ask Troy at Home Hotline Series” by Marcus Thomas LLC (for Troy-Bilt)

Silver: “Destination Cleveland’s #Cuyahoga50 Influencer Campaign Celebrates Revitalization 50 Years in the Making” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Destination Cleveland)

Gold: “A Backyard Influencer Oasis in Phoenix, Arizona” by Falls (for Leisure Time Products)

Best Paid Social Media Campaign >$500 B2C Category

Silver: “Dunkin’ Celebrates the Holiday Season with a Paid Facebook Campaign” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Dunkin’)

Best Social Media Campaign for a Non-profit and/or Governmental Agency

Gold: “Creating a Paid LinkedIn Campaign for the City of Independence” by Fahlgren Mortine (for City of Independence)

Integrated Communications Campaign

Bronze: “More Than a Pipe Dream: FlowGuard Gold Pipe & Fittings Addresses Common Plumbing Misconceptions Through Integrated Communications Campaign” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Lubrizol Advanced Materials)

Bronze: “Integrated Communications Campaign Helps Avery Dennison Performance Tapes Drive Success for its Automotive Portfolio” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Avery Dennison Performance Tapes)

Bronze: “Celebrating a #RiverReborn” by Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Bronze: “Enlighted Makes Swift Marketing Strategy Transition in Light of COVID-19” by Sweeney (for Enlighted, Inc.)

Silver: “Troy-Bilt: Ask Troy” by Marcus Thomas (for Troy-Bilt / MTD Products)

Gold: “Home Is Where the Art Is: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Response to the COVID-19 Quarantine” by The Cleveland Museum of Art

Community Relations of Cause Campaign

Bronze: “Dickens Reads” by Rhonda Crowder and Associates (this is a collaborative project with Tegna/WKYC, Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Reading RAMM Academy)

Silver: “Girl Scout Cookies for Truckers on the Ohio Turnpike” by Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (for Junior Girl Scout Troop 71268)

Consumer New Product or Service Launch

Silver: “Under-the-Radar Brand Gains National Spotlight with New Bobby Berk Furniture Line” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Value City Furniture)

Gold: “U by Moen™ Smart Faucet Product Launch Campaign” by Falls (for Moen)

Publication: Books/Guides/Resource Directory

Bronze: “Marion Technical Handbooks” by Goldstein Group Communications (for Marion Process Solutions)

Bronze: “A Practical Guide to Starting a Vineyard in Idaho” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Idaho Wine Commission)

Silver: “Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Showcases Advancements in Coatings Technology with Market Pulse” Publication “” by Marcus Thomas (for Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine)

Best Use of Instagram Accoun

Silver: “Troy-Bilt Instagram Live | Ask Troy at Home Hotline Series” by Marcus Thomas LLC (for Troy-Bilt)

Multimedia Content – Podcast/Audio Category

Silver: “Great Lakes Forward” by shark&minnow (for The Port of Cleveland)

Promotional Content – Media Kit

Silver: “’You’ll Love it Here!’ Acceptance Kit ” by Hathaway Brown School

Publication: Annual Report

Silver: “OhioGuidestone 2019 Annual Report” by Falls (for OhioGuidestone)

Internal Communications

Silver: “Martin Senour TSM Playbook” by Falls (for Martin Senour Automotive Finishes)

Gold: “Most Memorable Day at the Fed Series” by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (for SCS Administration at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland)

Gold: “More Than a Pipe Dream: FlowGuard Gold CPVC Turns to Digital Tools to Address Common Plumbing Misconceptions” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Lubrizol Advanced Materials)

Multimedia Content – Video

Bronze: “Video is a Slam Dunk” by Fahlgren Mortine (for CFFA)

Bronze: “Falls ‘Looking Back’ Video” by Falls

Bronze: “Insight LiDAR Videos Display an Otherwise Invisible Technology” by Goldstein Group Communications (for Insight LiDAR)

Bronze: “The School of One” by shark&minnow (for The Foundry)

Silver: “Class of 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremony Video” by Hathaway Brown School (with Black Valve Media)

Media Relations – National

Bronze: “Capturing New Audiences with Research-Informed, Influencer-Informed Media Relations” by Marcus Thomas (for Troy-Bilt)

Bronze: “Atlantic Union Bank Goes National on SBA’s Payroll Protection Program” by Sweeney (for Atlantic Union Bank)

Bronze: “The State of America’s Sleep” by Marcus Thomas (for The Better Sleep Council)

Bronze: “Duck Brand Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest” by Falls (for Duck Brand)

Silver: “Artemis I Test Media Relations Campaign” by NASA Glenn Research Center – Office of Communications

Gold: “The North American Menopause Society National Media Relations Program” by Falls (for The North American Menopause Society)

Publication: E-Newsletter

Bronze: “Have a lawn or garden question? Just Ask Troy.” by Marcus Thomas LLC (for Troy-Bilt)

Silver: “Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings ‘E-Finish’ electronic newsletter” by Falls (for Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings)

Events

Bronze: “National Underground Railroad Historical Marker Dedication Ceremonies on the Ohio Turnpike” by Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (for Ohio Turnpike, Friends of Freedom Society, Ohio History Connection)

Silver: “Class of 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremony” by Hathaway Brown School

Gold: “Apollo 50th Anniversary Celebration” by NASA’s Glenn Research Center

Website/Mobile Application

Bronze: “A Brand New HB.edu” by Hathaway Brown School

Silver: “Backstage Pass for Press Resources” by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Gold: “Creating The New Home of the Brave, Online: The National Veterans Memorial and Museum Website” by Fahlgren Mortine (for National Veterans Memorial and Museum)

Publication: Magazine

Silver: “HB Magazine – Building the Future” by Hathaway Brown School

Webinar

Silver: “The Pursuit of Dryness: A Thermal Drying Webinar Cohosted by Kason and Marion” by Goldstein Group Communications (for Kason Corporation and Marion Process Solutions)

Media Relations – Local/Regional

Bronze: “Artemis I Test Media Relations Campaign” by NASA Glenn Research Center – Office of Communications

Bronze: “Celebrating a #RiverReborn with Local Media” by Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Bronze: “Dunkin’ Celebrates National Nurses Day” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Dunkin’)

Bronze: “Development Finance: Funding the Way to a Greater Cleveland” by shark&minnow (for The Port of Cleveland)

Bronze: “Atlantic Union Bank Maximizes Local Research to Educate Market” by Sweeney (for Atlantic Union Bank)

Silver: “McCarthy Lebit Local Media Relations Program” by Falls (for McCarthy Lebit)

Written Content: Technical Article/Whitepaper

Silver (TIE):

  • “Sherwin-Williams Secures Cover Story in JPCL with Sweeping Review of Railcar Coatings Challenges and Solutions” by Marcus Thomas (for Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine)
  • “Sly Wet Scrubber White Paper” by Goldstein Group Communications (for Sly)

Media Relations – Trade

Bronze: “Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials Finds Sustained Success through Media Relations” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Avery Dennison)

Bronze: “Kichler Lighting Launches Customizable RLM Fixtures & Online Configurator” by Falls (for Kichler Lighting)

Silver: “Artemis I Test Media Relations Campaign” by NASA Glenn Research Center

Gold: “Under-the-Radar Furniture Brand Gains National Spotlight with Bobby Berk” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Value City Furniture)

Pro Bono

Silver: “Adopted Pets Purr-ever Grateful in Cleveland APL Campaign” by Sweeney (for Cleveland Animal Protective League)

Written Content: Press Release

Bronze: “Erie Insurance Homeowners Survey News Release” by Falls (for Erie Insurance)

Silver: “Under-the-Radar Furniture Brand Gains National Spotlight with Bobby Berk” by Fahlgren Mortine (for Value City Furniture)

Written Content: Case Study

Silver: “Case Study on Carver-Hawkeye Arena Roofing System is a Slam Dunk” by Fahlgren Mortine (for CFFA)

Written Content: Speech

Silver: “Team NEO: Connecting with Our Region’s Future Workforce” by Falls (for Team NEO)

Duplicate awards can be ordered here