African-American pros offer passion

African-American PR pros in today's market bring considerable gifts and talents to the table. Among them are professionalism, media savvy, and, often, decades of experience.

African-American PR pros in today's market bring considerable gifts and talents to the table. Among them are professionalism, media savvy, and, often, decades of experience.

As a 20-year PR veteran, I've found another quality I believe African-American pros exude: passion. As a unique group of professionals, we understand acutely our potential to wield power and influence, and we know we must use it for the greatest good.

From a historical perspective, African Americans once had no voice. We were deprived of our basic constitutional rights and the right to read, write, and vote.

We have overcome those barriers to become expert communicators who wield a mighty pen and raise a collective voice that speaks volumes. We are ever mindful of our responsibility to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. Thus, when we approach our jobs, we bring a special compassion and sensitivity to the task.

As we enter an era of catastrophes both natural and man-made, e.g., Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis, and bridge collapses, PR's power is needed more than ever. As African Americans, especially, we must use PR as a change agent.

We know that despite our collective progress and individual achievements, our neighborhoods are too often in a state of crisis. Because of our deep roots in the community, we have an intimate understanding of those who hurt and are in need. This sensitivity drives us to better facilitate communications and connections to resources to address those needs.

As public affairs director at Dominick's, a large Chicago grocery chain, what I love most is the potent impact we have on the community on both large and small scales. For example, not only have we raised more than $10 million for prostate and breast cancer research and supportive services this past year, but we also have funded race-appropriate colored prosthesis for indigent minority breast cancer survivors. Other causes we have funded include Easter Seals, muscular dystrophy, and hunger.

This same sensitivity inspired the National Black Public Relations Society (NBPRS) to recognize several colleagues and companies at its ninth annual Conference and Career Fair. With the theme "Making Our Communities Better Through the Power of PR," the event was held September 20 to 23 in Chicago.

Honorees included Sonya Jackson of United Airlines, who helped coordinate one of the first relief flights to New Orleans with supplies for Katrina survivors; McDonald's, a proven generous corporate citizen; and Tom Burrell, founder of Burrell Communications, one of the country's largest marketing communications agencies targeting African Americans.

Potential clients would do well to recognize the benefit of hiring African-American practitioners, who, in addition to their excellent rŽsumŽs, offer something extra: a passion that can make a difference for their companies and clients.

Finally, we know that despite decades of combined experience, multiple graduate and undergraduate degrees, and dozens of industry awards, NBPRS board members would not be as successful as we are without our reliance on another p that is associated with our profession: prayer.

Wynona Redmond is president of the National Black Public Relations Society and public affairs director of Dominick's, a division of Safeway.

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