February: A Celebration of Black Brilliance and Resilience

By Myisha Washington, Diversity & Ethics Chair

February is not just the shortest month of the year; it’s also Black History Month, a time to commemorate the rich tapestry of Black achievement and contributions to society. From groundbreaking scientists and artists to courageous civil rights leaders and everyday heroes. Black history is American history, and its lessons and triumphs deserve to be celebrated and learned from every single day.

Black history is filled with stories of trailblazers who shattered barriers and defined limitations. Not only is Black History about individual achievements, it’s also about the collective struggle for equality and justice. Black communities have faced unimaginable challenges with dignity, resilience, and unwavering belief in a better tomorrow. The legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and countless others who marched, protested, and spoke out against discrimination serve as a powerful reminder that progress, though often slow, is always possible.

While Black History Month is a vital time for reflection and celebration, it’s important to remember that Black history is not confined to a single month. We must continue to amplify Black voices, celebrate Black excellence, and challenge systematic inequalities throughout the year.

Let’s make February, and every month, a time to honor the rich legacy of Black achievement, acknowledge the ongoing struggles for equality, and commit to building a future where Black voices are heard, respected, and celebrated.

Here are some additional ways to celebrate Black History Month:

Thanks for Your Feedback!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on our spring membership survey. Your insight was valuable as we plan a return to in-person programs. We received 50 responses from our members, and the majority indicated they are ready for in-person programs. You can review the full survey results via the links below:

PRSA Spring Membership Survey Results

Spring Membership Survey Responses

Last Month in PR || May/June 2021 NewsWorthy

A random and humorous roundup to remind you how hard it is to get this job right—and how easy it is to get it wrong. Written by Jeff Rodriguez.

The reviews are in: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), hosts of the Golden Globe film awards, is embroiled in a dramatic story of its own. The organization is facing multiple allegations of ongoing, widespread sexism and racism, several stars have announced their intent to boycott the show, and NBC has canceled plans to air the 2022 ceremony. The HFPA has responded by acknowledging that systemic reform “is long overdue,” and released a plan to increase diversity, restrict the “gifts” members can receive and require diversity training for the members. Regrettably, they have yet to apologize for giving the Best Drama Award to “Avatar” over “The Hurt Locker.”

About-faces: The CDC continues to take lumps for its seemingly inconsistent mask messaging. One physician said the new guidance has caused “a giant mess,” and one national news magazine’s cover headline was “Mask Confusion.” Many people seem ready to be done with masks—and so is our cat.

False start: Japanese Olympic officials are excited about the impending games, but Japanese citizens are not. Two-time Japanese Olympic medalist Yuko Arimori publicly criticized the planning committee for a lack of transparency. “The organizers have had the past year to communicate with the public,” he said, “and yet public opinion hasn’t changed.” The U.S. has offered to assist by sending Ryan Lochte as a goodwill ambassador.

Out of Context (a recurring feature): Former Senator Rick Santorum, trying out his new role as a history teacher, told a group of students, “We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here.” Native Americans could only assume that “Nothing” was the name of an obscure tribe in Massachusetts.

Silver Spoon, indeed: Former child actor Ricky Schroder decided to film himself at a Costco lecturing the store manager about their masking policy. Schroder later posted a video apologizing for his action, and asked if he can still redeem his reward points.

Please close the Windows: Bill and Melinda Gates simultaneously posted respectful, duplicate messages on their social media about their plans to divorce. “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple,” they wrote. It was later reported that Bill may have been involved in some sexual improprieties, but no word yet on if he had been infected with a virus.

Past his Prime: Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri posted a video noting that Jeff Bezos had not contributed to his campaign to benefit restaurant industry workers. On the positive, Bezos did offer each restaurant worker one free month of Amazon Prime.

Central Emotional Intelligence Agency:  The CIA released a new recruitment video which is being maligned (and praised) for being a little too … well, something. In the ad, a female agent says, “I am unapologetically me. I want you to be unapologetically you.” The ad prompted Sen. Ted Cruz to comment, “If you’re a Chinese communist, or an Iranian Mullah…would this scare you? We’ve come a long way from Jason Bourne.” Cruz reportedly also was upset later on, when he learned that Iron Man is not real, either.

Follow the tweeter: In what may be a first, the Israeli Army used social media to coordinate a highly effective attack on Hamas. The Israelis falsely tweeted that they were currently launching a major attack on the Gaza Strip, which was widely picked up by local media. The news prompted the Hamas forces to rush forward to defend the area—at which point Israel really did launch an attack.

Giving it a shot: With COVID vaccination rates reportedly slumping among Republicans, a group of GOP lawmakers have made a video encouraging people to get the vaccine. One politician said getting vaccinated will help “end the government’s restrictions on our freedoms.”

TWITS
The roundup of social media posts that have since been deleted—or should be.

  • A South Carolina volunteer fire chief resigned after a post urging police to “stop responding to these black neighborhoods,” saying it’s better if “they eventually kill each other.”
  • Pastor Greg Locke tweeted that White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki is a “treasonous witch.”
  • Model Chrissy Tiegen publicly apologized for previously harassing a reality TV star online. “I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be,” she tweeted.
  • North Carolina Congressman David Rouzer, finding that a Hardee’s was closed due to no staff, tweeted, “This is what happens when you extend unemployment benefits for too long and add a $1400 stimulus payment to it.” His post drew thousands of reactions, many criticizing him for thinking people could live on a single $1,400 payment. And one person responded, “Nah bud, it’s what happens when companies don’t pay enough for what the job requires.”
AND A FEW HITS…
The band 10,000 Maniacs announced on social media that they were resuming touring. One former fan responded that, without former leader singer Natalie Merchant, the band has lost its “gravitas.” The band directly responded to the disgruntled fan with this post: “We’ll make you a deal. We’ll buy tickets for you and a guest to our next weekend of shows at NYC. Steven will even buy you drinks after the show, and you can tell us where our gravitas has gone. You might even like it. And in that case, you buy the drinks! Be warned, the band is serious about playing but they enjoy it as well. You might see some smiles and even laughter on stage.”For a variety of reasons, it is a difficult time to be a police officer right now. The situation prompted Atlanta Police Officer Kelvin Dingle to post a clip of himself on TikTok, saying, “I am tired of every time I wake up in the morning, there’s someone else polarizing the fact that maybe law enforcement is just not a good thing. All of us are not bad… Most of us are not. There are bad people in every career. I give everything.” The clip has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.COVID made a mess of the year for many high school graduates, but Graham Williams, the owner of a gift company, found a nice way to offset some of the sadness. He compiled a book filled with life lessons and advice he collected from Colorado celebrities and personalities, everyone from elite athletes to civil servants. A legislator encouraged the grads to “Question everything and never turn down an adventure,” and five-time Olympian Missy Franklin advised, “Passion and love will take you further and fulfill you more than anything else will.” “High schoolers have really had a tough time and shown their mettle,” Wilson said, “and we’ve got a platform where we can use the tools we have to put a gift in front of all of them.”

QUOTE
“In a world you can be anything, be kind, because you are all no better than the cleaner.” – Julie Cousins, a 67-year-old office cleaning lady, in a hand-written note she gave to a bank manager, who apparently had been quite harsh with her the day before. Her son shared the letter on Twitter, and it has earned more than 150,000 likes.

Last Month in PR || April 2021 NewsWorthy

A light-hearted and incomplete roundup of PR hits and misses from recent weeks. Our only agenda is to remind everyone how hard it is to do PR well—and how easy it is to get it wrong. Written by Jeff Rodriguez.

GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS: Several corporations, including Coca-Cola, have plunged into national politics, speaking out against the voting laws recently passed in Georgia. Depending upon your point of view, they’re either taking a bold stand, or caving to a very vocal minority. Sen. Mitch McConnell responded by warning corporations to “stay out of politics” adding that he will no longer accept corporate political contributions (just kidding). Former President Trump, meanwhile, called for a boycott of Diet Coke, only to be photographed a couple of days later with a bottle of Diet Coke partially exposed on his desk. It’s just so much better than Mountain Dew.

TAKE ONLY AS MISDIRECTED: What can we safely do after being vaccinated? If you’re not sure, you’re in good company. A recent news article stated, “At a particularly crucial juncture in the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a messaging problem.” The article included comments from public health experts. One professor said, “Whether you’re a public health agency or doing a communications campaign of any kind, an erosion of trust is incredibly damaging.” A second expert said simply that the CDC’s messaging on post-vaccine restrictions “has been a mess.” The CDC issued a statement in response, but no one could understand it.

JUST DON’T DO IT: Olympic gymnast Simone Biles announced that she was ending her six-year relationship with Nike to sign with Athleta, which, she said, will “help me be a voice for females and kids.” Nike gracefully wished Biles “the very best,” and canceled an order for 300,000 bobbleheads.

THE FRIENDLY SKIES: Why do flight attendants greet you when you come on the plane? Flight attendant Kat Kamalani created a TikTok video to explain. Her clip has drawn more than 2.5 million viewers, all of whom want to know if they can have two carry-on items.

JUST ASKING: Texas Sen. John Cornyn got himself in a tangle while trying to criticize President Biden. Quoting an excerpt from an article about Biden, Cornyn tweeted in part, “Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters.” The senator then followed with his own words: “Invites the question: is he really in charge?”  Cornyn’s criticism prompted quite a backlash, with a sarcastic, “If a president isn’t on Twitter constantly is he really even a president?” Cornyn quickly backpedaled, stating, “That tweet was not meant to suggest anything about the president’s competency — physical or mental … certainly wasn’t my intention.” There is no proof that Cornyn made his comments in an attempt to distract attention from fellow Sen. Ted Cruz.

ALL THUMBS
Anybody can tweet. But that doesn’t mean everybody should.

  • Ivanka Trump shared photos of herself getting vaccinated and encouraged others to do so, but was met with a pandemic of angry responses.
  • Singer Cardi B posted photos taking her daughter on a $29,000 shopping spree. Followers were outraged at her extravagance, but Visa sent her six new card offers, all with 0 percent introductory financing.
  • ESPN analyst Paul Pierce posted a video showing him in a room full of exotic dancers who were not wearing masks (at least, not to cover their faces). ESPN fired Pierce, but he was unfazed, tweeting, “I can’t lose even when I lose I’m winning.”
  • Retired football star Brett Favre criticized players for kneeling during the national anthem, only to be reminded of a tweet from last fall where he had spoken in support of “freedom of speech.” Timeout has been called while the officials review the replay.
  • Singer Cher tried, very, very hard to tactfully tweet that, if she had only been there, she might have been able to do something to save the life of George Floyd. After a wave of criticism, she tried a different route:  “I Thought some ppl wouldn’t understand, Or Believe an Entertainer Could have Honest emotions about a human Being,suffering & Dying,even if It’s Only Shown On tv. You Don’t Know What I’ve Done, Who I Am, Or What I Believe. I CAN, I HAVE, & I WILL..HELP.” We got you, babe.
  • Singer Demi Lovato went on Instagram to criticize a frozen yogurt shop for selling sugar-free products, adding the hashtag #dietculturevultures. The ensuing furor caused Lovato to backtrack, acknowledging she had “definitely jumped to conclusions.” And the yogurt shop doubled its followers.

NO HAT, ALL PRATTLE: Congressional candidate Dan Rodimer is tired of having to talk about his Texas drawl. But people keep asking, mostly because Rodimer has lived in the state less than a year and was born in New Jersey. He also did a commercial showing him riding a bull, only to have to admit later that a stunt double was used for part of the shoot. Fellow Republican Matt Gaetz—yep, that Matt Gaetz—criticized Rodimer, tweeting, “Fake Texan makes fake video of fake bull ride.”  When Matt Gaetz is criticizing your public profile …

And a few hits…

CALLS BLOCKED: Actress Milana Vayntrub is appearing as “Lily” in a new round of commercials for AT&T. And she’s drawn a new round of extremely inappropriate comments on social media. In March, Vayntrub responded, tweeting: “Been getting a lot of ‘Why are they placing her body like that in those ads?’ Well, I direct the ads. I place myself like that. And it’s because of the thousands of unwelcome comments I receive about my body. You’ve lost the privilege of looking at it until I feel safe again.”

THE BALL STOPS HERE: After the Liverpool soccer club canceled plans to join a new league, the owner of the club, John W. Henry, felt compelled to issue a remarkably frank video apology. “I want to apologize to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused … I’m sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget .” Save that for the textbooks.

ORGANIC RESPONSE: Haltom City candidate Willis Odell had his campaign signs translated to Vietnamese. But someone, intentionally or otherwise, messed up the translation, and Odell’s signs inadvertently included a reference genitalia. The error was tactfully pointed out to Odell by Haltom City Mayor An Truong—Odell’s opponent.

A SPACE ODYSSEY: After players at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament posteed photos showing only one set of barbells for their workout area, the NCAA responded that it was due in part to “limited space.” Oregon player Sedona Prince then posted a video showing there was enough unused space available to house, well, the men’s workout room. The clip went viral, and the NCAA quickly gave the women more appropriate equipment. Fortunately, there was a sale that week at Target.

PARTING THOUGHT
“I needed to do something to brighten not only my spirits, but also the spirits of others.” — 82-year-old La Verne Ford Wimberly, who puts on her Sunday best for church services each week, even though the services are online.