Black Girls Rock! visits Egami Consulting Group. Image: Egami
Black Girls Rock! (BGR) in partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and P&G’s My Black is Beautiful campaign has launched the Imagine a Future Project, a program that, according to BGR founder Beverly Bond, will “empower and touch the lives of one million girls over the course of three years.” Through this program, there will be a national and regional (and perhaps worldwide) push to continue BGR’s philanthropic work with and on behalf of African-American girls.As you probably know, Black Girls Rock! is the nonprofit organization dedicated to mentoring and uplifting black girls while also tackling issues associated with media depictions of black women and girls. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the organization per se, you likely recognize the name from the BET awards show that airs annually. No doubt, you’ve heard of the United Negro College Fund (“A mind is a terrible thing to waste”), which has been around for more than 40 years. And perhaps you know My Black is Beautiful because you’re friends with it on Facebook. The campaign has 761,000 Facebook likes, a website and tons of exposure through P&G’s promotion. The partnership was facilitated by PR and marketing firms Egami Consulting Group and MSLGroup. If you’re unfamiliar with Egami, click here to watch our She’s The Boss video with CEO Teneshia Jackson Warner.
Bring them together and you have a program that targets and supports black women and girls in their personal lives and public portrayals.
A Partnership Focused on African-American Women and Girls
P&G’s My Black is Beautiful sponsored BGR Queens’ Camp for Leadership and Excellence, a two-week program that took place this month and hosted 50 girls between the ages of 13 and 17. On August 1, those 50 girls made a trip to Egami and MSLGroup, who hosted an event offering a “day in the life” of a multicultural PR agency like Egami.
“There’s an expectation for brands to have a presence in the communities in which they live,” Warner told us. “As we build campaigns, we’ll find synergies to bring in community partners.” Moreover, Egami wants to include staff members, which is why the firm participated in the event. And the young participants learned that the information they collect every day — what’s in, what’s new, what’s exciting — is just the stuff that’s critical to a career in PR.
According to Bond, she was approached with the idea for these sorts of partnered initiatives, something that happens quite often because of the unique, high-profile nature of her organization.
“We make sure people just aren’t supporting the TV show and the glam, but the work we do,” Bond says. Still, she says, she is the “majority owner” of BGR, the beating heart of the organization. “That’s probably the biggest misconception. BET doesn’t support our nonprofit,” she continues. “It’s tough getting people to recognize that we need the help. We’re doing everything that nonprofits should be doing, but it’s still tough.”
Now BGR’s programs for girls and the research have expanded. For example, they have “empowerment circles” throughout the year with a variety of media companies participating. They also have a more intensive vetting process to find young women who will be dedicated to the work.
With the growth over the years and the larger BET platform, there have been more chances to collaborate with other organizations. And through the work with the UNCF, the group aims to dig deeper into different parts of the country and the world to do its work.
African-American Women As a Target Demographic
The My Black is Beautiful campaign recognizes that black women are “under and misrepresented” in the media. “Also, women are concerned about the perception of their daughters,” says Verna Coleman-Hagler, the brand manager for My Black is Beautiful. The campaign’s research finds that African-American women feel there’s still a long way to go before they reach a more positive place.
Coleman-Hagler defined My Black is Beautiful as “a movement providing tools for dialogue” and sharing in the desire to help girls to always feel confident. At the same time, P&G also sees African-American woman as a demographic to be targeted because of their spending power.
“P&G has a long history of reaching out because the buying power and numbers are significant for growing ourbusiness,” says Coleman-Hagler. “If you’re a Fortune 100 brand, you’ve had this ‘a-ha’ moment that you need to connect with these audiences. The business case is there.” Programs that give the company exposure to this audience, and build loyalty early on, are important.
But, true to the message of their partnership with BGR and the UNCF, it’s not just about slapping something together and pushing it out to black audiences.
“It’s really about cultural competency right now, understanding these audiences on a deep level,” says Coleman-Hagler. “It’s authentic beyond placing an African-American woman in a commercial.” One should ask questions like “What does she care about?” And “What does she need?”
Taking it a step further, Egami’s Warner talks about the “urban customer;” the shopper that’s 18-to-34 years old, identifies with pop culture, hip hop, fashion and music. It’s more a “mindset or lifestyle” than a “specific race,” she explains.
Understanding this nuance is the main reason why it’s so important to have diversity across marketing and public relations.
“Multicultural audiences are on track to become the majority,” Warner says. “One way to deliver solutions is to make sure the workforce is diverse enough to reflect what the new majority looks like.”
Egami and MSLGroup are working with BGR to open up three to five new internship positions at the firm. Of course, the interests of the BGR girls range far and wide. Shining a light on that diversity and celebrating it is what this whole thing is all about.
by Tonya Garcia via MadameNoire.com