First and foremost, I would like to send a huge congratulations to Dexter Bridgeman, the President BOMA, the Black Owned Media Alliance and all of the BOMA members, on a job well done with their 3rd Annual Get to Know Black Media Symposium. The symposium featured 5 panel sessions lead by BOMA members and a keynote address from Real Time Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson. The half day event highlighted advertising strategies, the role of Black media and the importance of using technology to stay relevant.
I must admit, it was disappointing to see the Adrienne Arsht Center theater half filled considering the symposium was rich with critically valuable content. At moments like this, I reminded of the power of my skinfolk; how we pack out concerts and sneakers stores, how we support reality TV like no other and how we create social trends that have global reach without giving it a second thought. We consume to the tune of Trillions of Dollars annually, yet we own far less. While I do think BOMA could have invested more energy into promotional efforts for the symposium, it’s still disheartening when we neglect to rise to the occasion to gain much needed insight regarding black media and how to market in the 21st century.
In 2016, the Nytimes.com published an article entitled, “Pillars of Black Media, Once Vibrant, Now Fighting for Survival” detailing how the impact of Black media on Black culture is and has been “bleak and dying…”. Bridgeman, however, pointed out disparity in advertising dollars being spent as a huge part of the issue. It was definitely an eye opener to realize that we rarely see ads for luxury cars and clothing brands in our media, yet we consume anyway. We have to ask ourselves, if they do not support our black, why should they get our green. In that same nytimes.com article, Leonard Burnett Jr., Hype Hair magazine owner, said his print business had been challenging largely because advertisers, particularly luxury brands, would rather connect with African-American consumers “by speaking broadly.” Burnette continued with “I think at times there’s a feeling that they do not want to directly speak to that audience because there’s a fear of bringing down their brand perception.”
Well, while at the symposium, Bobby Henry went head to head with panelist Marcelo Salup of Left Brain Iffective Marketing from his seat in the audience. Salup used a formula to matter of factly explain why luxury brands were not spending any money with Black owned media. In their gentleman exchange, Mr. Henry’s questions and Mr. Salup’s responses made it obvious to everyone in the room that luxury brands were not at all concerned with asking for the Black Dollar as we tend to hand over our dollars freely without anyone even asking for it. Nonetheless, Mr. Henry’s diplomacy was on full display as he asked the tough questions. No doubt, it would have beneficial for our community (especially younger Black men) to see him lead not just in print but in person, front and center. Mr. Henry represented The Westside Gazette, Broward’s oldest and longest running publication well, by remaining unapologetically Black both on and off stage.
It is one of those events that should NEVER be missed. Small business owners, marketers, and community influencers should mark their calendars from now as there is no way I could begin to recap the Black excellence exhibited during the symposium. Nonetheless, I will say this, Hiram E. Jackson delivered one of the best keynotes of the season with golden nuggets of information that still resonate with me weeks later. Jackson urged black media to “Break the Rules. Be Bold.” He said we had to use technology and events to remain culturally relevant while delivering an impactful message. In 2018, “engagement is the buzzword”, so therefore there can no longer be a distinction between print and digital. We must endeavor to get engage readers whether we find them online or they find us in church pews and office lobbies.
It’s fair to say that it was largely unanimous that very person in attendance gained better insight on the importance of email campaigns, how to create content, and how to use social media to tell stories that attract customers and advertisers. But the most important lesson of the day was Blacks being intentional in forming alliances and collaborations to produce content that leads to wins, prevalence and impact. Once again Kudos to BOMA, the Black owned media Alliance.