CAMPAIGNS: Minority groups prove their value - Ethnic PR

The Ethnic Minority Media Awards (EMMA) are the brain-child of Bobby Syed, founder of Hearsay Communications, who has wide experience of cross-cultural PR campaigns.

The Ethnic Minority Media Awards (EMMA) are the brain-child of

Bobby Syed, founder of Hearsay Communications, who has wide experience

of cross-cultural PR campaigns.

He wanted to establish an event that celebrated the contributions of

ethnic minorities in the UK’s predominantly white media industry. But,

to avoid accusations of tokenism, he was keen to place professionalism

and creativity before issues of race and colour.

At the end of last year, NatWest came aboard as the main sponsor to

demonstrate its commitment to a multi-cultural society and its position

as the leading bank for ethnic minority owned small businesses.


To actively support and reward the talents of ethnic minority

individuals working in the media as business professionals. In addition,

the organisers wanted to create recognition of the growing consumer

power of the ethnic minority markets and the need for cross-cultural



The success of EMMA was dependent on keeping the awards both apolitical

and unbiased towards any one community. To achieve this, the PR team let

the participants decide who the nominees would be. In addition, the

event gained a broad base of patrons including Lord Archer, Body Shop

founder Anita Roddick and LSE’s Lord Desai.

At the end of last year, Hearsay created a database of over 2,000 ethnic

minority media professionals working across the board, from advertising

to community radio. In January, these individuals received an EMMA

mailshot, with an entry form for nominations. Every submission was then

assessed by a panel of judges including Ajab Singh, creative group head

of Saatchi and Saatchi and Ekow Eshun, editor of Arena magazine. The

winners of the four ethnic minority media professional categories, were

decided by televote.

Additional publicity carried out by NatWest helped win mainstream

support for the awards ceremony fronted by writer and broadcaster,

Darcus Howe and Sky TV presenter, Lisa Aziz at the Dorchester Hotel on

14 May.


The awards gained more than 300 nominees and over 400 attendees on the

night, including celebrities such as Tessa Sanderson and England

cricketer Mark Ramprakash. Winners included Joe Bloggs managing

director, Shami Ahmed, the Guardian’s Maya Jaggi for Best Written

Feature, and Simon Woolley, for his Operation Black Vote PR


The event attracted media coverage ranging from Radio 4 - which

interviewed BBC TV’s Martin Bashir, winner of Best Visual Journalist -

to the Times and New Statesman. Ironically, despite many regional

minority newspapers carrying coverage, the PR team were unable to find a

cuttings agency that offered a full ethnic media service.


The awards were an undoubted success gaining written endorsement from

broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and both the prime minister, Tony Blair

and Tory party leader, William Hague. Some media coverage did throw up

criticisms of a ’ghetto mentality’. But other issues such as the value

of professional merit over positive discrimination were also


NatWest PR officer, Sandra Paul says her organisation was so pleased

with the results that it is looking at proposals for next year’s event

on 27 May 1999.

Client: NatWest Bank

PR Team: In-house and Hearsay Communications Worldwide

Campaign: The launch of the first annual Ethnic Minority Media Awards

Timescale: January - May 1998

Budget: Undisclosed

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in