Nov 19 2013

“The Network @Work: Leading, Learning & Leveraging Our Legacy” By Gabrielle Natalie Simpson

It’s always a privilege to learn, especially in the rising and influential field of public relations. I truly love PR, not just because every day is different from the last, but because the field is continuously evolving—shaping conversations and affecting brands, all while engaging audiences and opinions.

As a collegiate educator, I love to learn that a student is majoring in investor relations, corporate communications, social media, or sports or entertainment PR. It actually warms my heart, not just because it’s in a field that I practice, but because I truly believe there is endless potential in the communications industry.

Public relations engages audiences and moves messages forward, because people are listening! Today, the practice of PR is a discipline, and it is always an honor to come together with great PR practitioners who contribute to valuable conversations. In October, I participated in the National Black Public Relations Society’s (NBPRS) ( annual conference #NBPRSATL2013, which was held in Atlanta Georgia with the theme of “The Network @Work: Leading, Learning & Leveraging Our Legacy.” I happily took four themes along with me:

1. Together we’re stronger – #Network #NBPRSATL2013

a. Being among award-winning effective communicators is fuel for greatness. Without a doubt the sharing of knowledge is invaluable. At the conference, PR practitioners shared insights into how they handle the ever-changing field of PR, including challenging conventional PR norms and their personal strategic practices.

b. One theme was evident from every story told—the power of #Diversity! For example, studies have proven that blacks use social media more than any other group, and additionally, the “Black Buying Power,” as discussed at the conference, matters significantly in the nation’s marketplace. The diversity of perspectives characterizes the dynamic field of PR, and there must be a great influence on diverse consumers.

c. Establish connections that unite, motivate and grow. Look at who is doing what you would like to do, or providing a service that you have interest in. Now, start the conversation.

d. You don’t have to attend a conference to reap the benefits (though I recommend it :). You can simply network by using social media. By following the official conference hashtag #NBPRSATL2013, I was able to converse with participants who were enjoying great panels, ranging from “Social Strategies that work,” to “Power of Pop Culture, Entertainment & Sports on Today’s Consumer,” to “The View from the Top: Best Practices from #1 Brands” and more. Twitter allowed those in attendance to join the conversation live, as well as anyone who shared interest. Even though we were not panelists we each had an opinion and a valuable voice to add to the conversation.

2. The Value of #CareerDevelopment

a. Learning, reading, studying, attending conferences, and participating in workshops is invaluable. Every day there is a lesson to learn, a trend to stay on top of, and someone to meet. Platforms like #NBPRSATL2013 allow for all of these great opportunities.

b. I am forever grateful for dedication to empowerment and career development. Additionally, I am appreciative of CBS’s continued support in this area. CBS is conscious of the need for personal growth thorough training, which has an overall influential result on corporate development.

c. I am active with both the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Black Public Relations Society and encourage others to join and participate in any opportunity for networking and career development.

d. #CareerDevelopment is responsible for defining career goals and obtaining knowledge to reach those goals.

3. #BeStrategic

a. Tell your message like no one else while being the go-to, dependable source for whatever service you provide. This is your legacy!

b. Always ask—who are the key stakeholders? Do you have an integrated communications structure in place to reach necessary stakeholders such as those internal and external?

c. Because we know that the market is ever-changing, we must always stay in front of trends, conversations, hashtags, and social media. Corporate objectives define messaging for your brand.

d. You have 24 hours in a day, when is the best time to announce? Should you correspond with something happening in the news? What about a tweet instead of a press release or press conference? It is an advantage, not a disadvantage, that we work along a 24/7 news cycle.

e. In PR we have the opportunity—and sometimes the challenge—of influencing stakeholder opinions and changing perception. When done correctly, we drive dialogue and create captivating platforms to capture narrative.

4. #SocialMedia

a. A successful PR campaign in today’s age encompasses social media! Several panels at #NBPRSATL2013 revolved around that very theme. Panelists were very open to details of their successful campaigns and even shared lessons learned, especially with social media. The shameful common occurrence of followers being purchased—yes, purchased!—was addressed as well. For a specific price, you can easily have 200k followers, but that will without a doubt take away from your credibility. And once your credibility is gone, your lifeline will surely follow.

b. What’s your brand? Is it representative of the service you serve? The company you represent? Especially with young college graduates, it is important to know that your personal brand is just as important as the brand you would like to work for. Compatibility is essential on both ends.

c. Speaking of credibility, the power of a RT (retweet) is priceless for a few reasons. RTs are responsible for expressions (the next level after impressions), which factor in how many times a message is shared because of the amount of followers for all those who shared it. This amount is higher in comparison to buy-in than impressions.

d. Every social media attempt should be carefully thought out and studied for maximum message exposure. Not only are messages being delivered, they are also being escalated to multiple levels, outlets, and audiences. This is now shaping almost every field imaginable, not just PR.

e. Social media provides a large reach, but it is important the engagement has tangible results. Not only should social media be monitored, it must have a measurement of success. That measurement may be an increase in sales, media pickup, impression tracking or analytics.

It is empowering and exceptionally gratifying to be a part of a greater cause. Being a member of BPRS-NY allows me to give and receive, and learn how to cater to the diverse community that we live in and equally serve. I am proud to now apply these four modules even further, as I continue to learn and be aware of all the strategic ways that people communicate.


Gabrielle Natalie Simpson, Manager of Communications, CBS Corporation