Friday, March 9, 2012

Women's History Month: Young Women Know Your Power

As we know MARCH is Women's History Month, a time when we celebrate and honor women for their achievements and their enduring spirit.  But, let's face it: women make things happen— not everyone knows as much about HOW women make history as they should.  But, we do know it's important to remember those who came before us, the CHALLENGES they faced and the BARRIERS they broke.  It's important, to SALUTE those who continue to break barriers and take on challenges, so that WE, may have access. 
I looked up this year’s theme for Women’s History Month:“Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.”So, I want to spend a little time talking about HOW women are educated and empowered. I want you to REMEMBER the definition of “Empower” it is to give POWER or AUTHORITY to. "Empowerment."  Now, that's a positive and POWERFUL word.  We know that people are EMPOWERED when they can make full use of their TALENTS, and energy for the benefit of themselves, and their communities. So, MY TOPIC today is Young Women KNOW YOUR POWER.
I think about the women who were NOT given or even ENCOURAGED to utilize their talents. But, thanks to educational visionary leaders like Mary Lyon, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells and Mary McLeod Bethune, women have not only CAUGHT up with men in college attendance, BUT, now women are more likely than men to have a college degree.  By educating women, our nations have dramatically expanded the workforce, the creativity, and the FINANCIAL resource base upon, which TRUE empowerment rests.
Pioneers of secondary education for young women faced ARGUMENTS from physicians and other “EXPERTS” who CLAIMED either that females were INCAPABLE of intellectual development equal to men, OR, that they would be HARMED by striving for it (Can you believe that?) I like to think we are harming ourselves by NOT striving for it. 
Young Women KNOW. YOUR. POWER!
Because of your ancestors you all were born with the POWER you need to be leaders in your fields.  Your EDUCATION has equipped you with the AUTHORITY to go out in the world and accomplish all your dreams and goals.  Young women KNOW your power!  I look at some of us today and we don’t value the education we are equipped with, but, we see it only as a means to an end.
Mary McLeod Bethune, was an EDUCATOR and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African American students-Bethune-Cookman College.  Born to former slave parents and one of seventeen children she grew up picking cotton.  Though her parents and siblings were illiterate, Bethune knew as a child that she wanted to escape "the dense darkness and ignorance" in which she found herself. Her ambition to read was only FUELED by a white girl who once commanded her to put down a book, saying, "You can't read.”
As an adult, Bethune's influence soon extended far beyond the South. She was a gifted organizer and became a LEADER in the effort to build coalitions among BLACK women fighting for equal rights, better education, JOBS, and political power.  Through this work Bethune became close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, who encouraged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to name Bethune, Director of the Office of Minority Affairs in the National Youth Administration in 1935. Mary McLeod Bethune LUNCHED frequently with Mrs. Roosevelt in the White House.  Hmm, you mean to tell me Ms.Bethune went from working in the cotton fields, to LUNCHING with the president in the White House.
Young Women KNOW. YOUR. POWER!
I would love to tell you all that you are judged and promoted based only on your hard work and your ability to get the job done.  But, the truth is you have to be TENACIOUS, build good relationships and have perseverance.  Everything you need is inside of you, your EDUCATION will get you in the door, but, you have to have a plan and give your time and talents where they matter the most.
As you all continue your journey to success I want to equip you with a few life lessons:
1. Ask question-You won’t know until you ask, there is no shame and not knowing
2. Giving is receiving- Give your time and talents- Volunteer, mentor someone, etc
3. Choose your friends wisely- If you are the smartest person in your circle it’s time to change circles
4. Mistakes happen, THEN you move on- Don’t be self-defeated, everyone makes mistakes
5. You will find a way to do what you really want- There are an abundance of resources, someone will help you but first you have to help yourself.
6. Learn to have solidarity amongst different groups- You will open your eyes to a whole new world
7. Build each other up instead of tearing each other down- I am not my sisters keeper, I am my sister - Iyanla Vanzant
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
Marie Curie

Written by The BOSS Network founder Cameka @iamCameka  Smith 

Launching a Brand; Special Events, Media Blitzes & Integrated Campaigns By Miji Hope


For many independent professionals and entrepreneurs, the highlight of the brand building process is the LAUNCH. It is at this point that brand creators are able to see the fruition of their long, extraneous hours pay off; either in the form of launching a product, hosting a private event for a select group of supporters and potential patrons or by igniting a three-month integrated marketing campaign that utilizes online and off-line advertising, promotion and public relations efforts.

Whatever the choice to launch, it's always my driving goal to advise my clients to launch a complete and all inclusive integrated campaign that allows the brand to be launched to their targeted audience across multiple channels or touch points consistently.

Let’s begin!

I absolutely love to launch in 3s. As an entrepreneur, I have lived the life working as marketer, publicist, researcher, event planner all for my one company; where 'I wear many hats' is an understatement. Launching in 3s allows you as an independent professional with a staff of few to handle other business and life happenings while still having ample time to plan & flawlessly execute your brand's launch.

When you "launch in 3" you pick three areas or channels to launch through and to your target audience. There are a plethora of communication avenues to achieve this. Depending on how niche or not your target audience is, will tell you how best to reach them. Either way, my breakdown below will typically allow you to tailor the strategy to your specifics.

For example, in April of 2011 I was hired by the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Foundation to build a Media Campaign for his first Nashville-based celebrity charity basketball game. In order to completely launch the brand to the Nashville target audience, I created an integrated campaign in which I utilized our Media Tour to incorporate Community Relations as well as Special Events w/ Strategic Partners, all of which built the buzz for the upcoming charity basketball game. So one day for Dominique was spent doing early morning television appearances, followed by radio interviews, lunch with Strategic Partners at their place of business which was heavily patronized by our target audience (parents), after lunch visiting middle schools and high schools where the targeted audience (children) spent their days and nights spent hanging out in the city amongst city goers and sports fans who supported the launching of such a dynamic event in the city.

As you can see, my client was exhausted! Lol. But more importantly, what you can see is that the launching of the brand, which in this case was an event, was communicated via three specific touch points and required the support of an integrated effort: media relations, community outreach and special events.

When planning to launch your new product or company, a good starting point would be to use Media Relations, Paid Advertising and a Special Event to launch.

Media Relations
Beginning approximately 3months prior to launch, research the local media outlets in your market. Spend about 2-3weeks identifying about 10max Journalists at newspapers and Assignment Editors at networks. Only record the information of general media contacts or niche to your field or serving industry. [If you're launching a sports apparel company or product, it will do you no good to record the information of a tech reporter.]

Organize the contacts within a spread sheet. Once you've completed the research phase, send a short and sweet email to each contact notifying the contact of the brand launch to come. Before doing so, be sure to think of what you'd like the outcome of the communication to be. Would you like a feature story, a mention or would you like the reporter to cover your event? Be intentional in your initial communication, whichever the ideal end result.

For the first two months, send a weekly short/sweet message. 4weeks out send a professionally written Press Release bi-weekly, 2weeks out send a professionally written Media Alert/Advisory every 3-4days and 7days out switch from emails to daily morning and afternoon phone calls requesting a presence at your Special Launch Event.

There are many more ways to garner a 3rd party endorsement or publicity for a brand's launch. The above instructions at minimum, when done effectively, will result in having a media presence at your Special Event to launch your brand and even more so a follow up story (you've got to ask for it), highlighting the new product, business or owner.

Paid Advertisement

As a means to get in front of your target audience and to further support your media relations efforts, I would suggest selecting heavily targeted media outlets, print, television and/or online blogs and communities for paid placements. Using a similar 3month time line as recommended with media relations, you will want to purchase ads for at minimum 3months ahead of the launch. Contact the advertising departments and request packaged deals. When designing the ad be sure to keep in mind the lessons in the February Brand Design article and attempt to incorporate the Special Event information within it, for promotional purposes.

Special Event

There are a multitude of Special Event options that exist. From a grand opening for a bricks and mortar business where you do a 3month soft launch followed by a 3month hard/grand opening launch that invites customers into the store one evening for a special event, allowing them to celebrate with owners and employees alike, serving them refreshments and cocktails, while a jazz trio or DJ plays in the background... To a small intimate evening hosted by a local celebrity at an art gallery, where you invite who's who of your city and potential Strategic Partners, serving them a host of hors duerves and red/white wine.  *Make sure that your brand is very much seen; brand presence is KEY!*

The options are limitless!

To recap, launching a brand is often the culmination of an idea or concept, leading to planning that results into a materialized brand that deserves a proper launch. It can be exciting and tons of fun! Remember to comprehensively launch, utilizing at least 3 different avenues or touch points. Spend a minimum of three months leading up to the launch to communicate the brand to the target audience. And be sure that avenues you select to communicate the launching of the brand correlate to the messaging and design of the brand.

In the end, the launch of a brand should be felt by its targeted audience and should set the stage for a long-term relationship.
 Learn more about Miji Hope at The Premium World

Thursday, March 8, 2012



Record and upload your best business pitch (under two minutes, please). The top 10 finalists will be invited to the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo where they will pitch the idea to judges and our audience for a chance to win
$10,000! Deadline is Friday, March 30, 2012 Rethink your business at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo. Hundreds of deal makers attend all looking to build networks and explore growth opportunities. Innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, early peeks at products, trends and services you’ll need to stay ahead. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind power conference.
1. Join the Black Enterprise NING Community
2. Become a Member of this Elevator Pitch Group
3. Suggested Elevator Pitch Format What is your business focus? What products and services can you offer a company? How would you take advantage of this opportunity? How would you make money?
4. Create your video pitch
5. Click on the videos tabs in the top nav then select the ‘Add Videos’ then upload your video pitch
6. Under comments on the Elevator Pitch Contest Group page use the HTML embed code for your video to add it into your post below
7. Be sure in your BE Insider profile information you have your correct name, address, phone number, e-mail address - this information does not display publicly but will be used by Black Enterprise Staff to contact the winner.
Please Note: As an Elevator Pitch contestant, your name and likeness may be used for future advertising and promotional purposes. Additionally, it is advised that you obtain the appropriate legal documentation to protect your business idea or product. Black Enterprise is not liable for duplication of your business idea or product by a third party.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS CONTEST. Contest is open only to applicants who are legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age and older. Void where prohibited. Contest begins at 9:00 AM ET on 12/12/11 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 4/13/12. Click here for Official Rules »

Tips from BOSS member Shay Atkins to Get Your Elevator Pitch On:
  1. Who are you? What problem are you solving?
  2. Who has this problem? & why is it needed?
  3. Trends & industry size/growth/forecasts
  4. What are your qualifications?
  5. Realistic claim about profitability and future sales
  6. What are you going to do with the money?
Always SMILE, show your PASSION, and KNOW your INDUSTRY data!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Day In Her Life: Karine Méhu Senior Director of Strategic Marketing for USA Network, NBC Universal

Her Day Begins…
With consecutive team meetings and more than likely will end just the same. In between meetings, the executive’s day is a busy balancing act as she helps the network maintain its place as the #1 cable network in the country.   

“We are not just competing with other networks but other NBC properties as well…My job is essentially to put together on air opportunities for our on-air and digital advertisers,” she says. “I work very closely with my editorial production team and I say to them ‘What about the advertiser? How do we keep them involved?’”

From there she takes on the vital task of compiling gripping marketing presentations and packages that will attract key advertisers, such as Ford and Chrysler, who are directly aligned with the network’s core audience and will further expand the network’s outreach. The second part of her job is developing programs for targeted audiences for the billion dollar network.  

Whether she is in a sales meeting with major brands, responding to a request for proposals, or mentoring her team on how to edit a video package, Méhu’s passion for her career is quite evident.

Her Journey…
With over 13 years experience in the industry under her belt, Méhu is a powerful hybrid of her digital, print, and broadcast media experience, honed almost by happenstance had it not been for what could have been perceived as a professional setback.

While majoring in journalism at Howard University in Washington D.C., the native New Yorker worked full-time for BET publishing, eventually writing and producing for BET Network’s hit 90’s television show “Teen Summit”, producing, reporting, and interviewing at just 19 years old. It was there she plunged into digital right as the first Internet wave was on the rise.

After graduation, she held positions with a number of e-commerce websites, building her skills-and passion-in digital along the way. Then, the big Internet boom began to burst, leaving Méhu along with so many others without a job.

“I spent 9 months with no job,” she says. “I wear (it) like a badge of honor because when you have been unemployed for that long and not a dollar coming in except for unemployment, you learn exactly who you are.”

Who she was, as she was forced to find out, was a unique talent with a diverse skill set that companies greatly needed as the dawn of the new digital environment began. Méhu would have to reinvent herself.

“I had the web background, the video production, and writing background. I was able to take that and produce online content for clients who wanted to have agencies build content. I took all that stuff and made myself a marketing project manager at an agency.” 

Méhu would go on to hold positions in digital marketing at major advertising agencies, pharmaceuticals companies, Sports Illustrated magazine, Time Inc., and ESPN.

“The transition really wasn't that tough because I was blessed through the whole process. I was laid off but I stuck with it. Had I not had all those hiccups along the way, all those transitions along the way, I wouldn't be here today.”

Her Advice to You…
“You have to be the ambassador to your own brand. You can't just sit back passively and hope that people start to figure out who you are. You have to be out there all the time,” advised Méhu, who created several award-winning advertising campaigns and was recognized in Black Enterprise magazine as a top advertiser and marketer.  

Best Part of My Job…
“The notion of entertainment-I love actors and really intriguing scripts that are written well. I love paying attention to our competitors. It's great to go home with a script that no one else has seen before it hits the air. All that stuff is just exciting and I adore. I think as long as I love it that will help me market it, which means I get to watch a lot TV.”  

Featured Writer: Lenora Houseworth is a published writer, editor, and social media strategist. She can be reached at Find her on Twitter: @LenoraTheScribe.

A “Day in Her Life” blog series gives an insider view into the professional lives of successful women from various fields with the intended purpose of educating and inspiring the next generation of BOSS women.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meet BOSS And Survivor Cast Member Sabrina Thompson: Where Talk and Action Meet

Bold. Innovative. Creative Genius.  You could use any these words to describe the newest television personality, Sabrina Thompson, but just one is not enough. You might have to add business owner, producer, jewelry designer, teacher, former NCAA athlete, artist and entertainment industry maven to the mix.  Cook it all up and you have one of the freshest faces to enter the small screen this February as she ventures through treacherous jungles on the upcoming season of the CBS hit show SURVIVOR.

Since outsprinting the boys in elementary school, Sabrina has boldly taken risks while always managing to add her creative flare.  For instance, while majoring in Communications and competing against world-class athletes as a scholarship student-athlete at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she ignited her entrepreneurial spirit and redesigned old jeans and jewelry to sell to sorority girls for extra cash.  While interning at the Ricki Lake Show in New York City during college, she transferred her whimsical design skills to help create dynamic scenes ranging from set design to witty show concepts.  After graduation, she headed to live in Brooklyn, NY with $500 and a dream to work in the fast-paced world of television.  The bright-eyed workaholic navigated her way into television production and became a leading producer for various television shows for Columbia TriStar, Sony Pictures and Court Television Network. As a producer she covered cases that defined our era, including Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, Kobe Bryant and countless others.

Sabrina’s motto, “Action over Talk”, lead her to a life-defining moment.  She consciously walked away from television and entered one of the most demanding professions in the world –a public high school teacher.  
Sabrina believed she had a higher calling to make more of an impact in society and took a hiatus from the world of television. Following her motto, she was determined to make a difference in the lives of young people through unconventional methods of teaching.   She took her television background, creativity and no-nonsense demeanor to the classroom, bringing celebrities and top executives into one of the toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn to empower students to dream beyond their surroundings. 

Just when Sabrina was busy changing the world one student at a time, she launched three powerful entities.  Her own business, beanpYe, a successful jewelry company, the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), a global coalition of women and men committed to supporting the balanced portrayal of women in the entertainment industry, and her latest visual arts venture, KUU photography.

Many would think education and entertainment are worlds apart, but ask Sabrina what the two have in common and her answer doesn’t surprise. “When I remix the art of teaching business concepts and vocabulary with pop culture, social service projects and photography, it’s about making an exciting connection and let’s be real, that spices things up.”

And spice is what she brings to the island of Samoa as she faces off with other contestants on the 24th season of SURVIVORTM titled SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD.  She’s wise and cagey, but won’t hesitate to give you a dose of reality. “I do what I do through the grace of God. I try to live a disciplined, fun, and unconventional life of what I like to do, not what society dictates I should do.”

For updates, contestant info and previews of the upcoming season of SURVIVOR, please visit