The revived Black PR Society of New York, now headed by Mike Millis, has the opportunity to fill a leadership vacuum in New York.

BPRS-NY needs to raise serious money to open a much-needed midtown PR library/training facility, help identify qualified African-Americans who should be getting some of the top spots in corporate and agency PR, and for scholarship purposes.

Mike Millis
As our blog on Martin Luther King Day pointed out, the black PR community as well as the New York PR community have been getting short shrift from the national PR Society headquartered here, whose heart is far south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Four of the five 2012 executive committee members of PRS are Southerners (Mickey Nall, Atlanta; Kathy Barbour, Jacksonville, Fla.; Dave Rickey, Birmingham, Ala., and Rosanna Fiske, Coral Gables, Fla.). Three of the last four chairs as of 2013 will have been from the South. Only one New Yorker has headed PRS since 1990óKathy Lewton in 2001.

PRS has shown its disdain for African-Americans and New York by closing down the Multicultural section in 2009 without even consulting it; having only two black members on its board in 65 years; moving h.q. downtown, far from the PR/press community; booting the New York chapter from h.q. in 1992, and having only one national conference in New York in 23 years.

Itís time to cure that and BPRS-NY could lead.

Copy NYWICI, CPJ, PR Institute, etc.

What the group needs is a knock-your-socks-off event like New York Women in Communications throws each Aprilóthe Matrix Awards luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria that raises $500K.

BPRSFemale stars of media, advertising, publishing and entertainment draw more than 1,200 to the NYWICI event. Big companies back it fully. Usually there is one overall sponsor such as Hearst that picks up a good part of the tab.

Media greats help fill the same ballroom for the Committee to Help Journalists, bolstering a treasury that tops $12 million.

The stars of the PR industry turn out for the annual Institute for PR dinner at the Yale Club.

More than 600 awards are given out before an audience of 1,000+ each January at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Assn. Internationalís Adrian Awards banquet in New York.

Heroes of Entertainment, Sports Would Pitch In

Weíre sure that the biggest African-American stars in sports and entertainment would pitch in to help their brethren just like female stars help NYWICI.

Cedric Bess
(Composite photo)
One of those who could help is Cedric Bess, who was with PRS from 2002 until 2007 with the title of PR manager and serving as the main press contact at the Society. He resigned March 7, 2007, shortly after the arrival of Bill Murray as COO.

Bess is now guest relations manager of the New York Yankees.

Burson-Marsteller has lent its offices to the BPRS-NY for many years but the group has languished. Itís time for a bold stroke and we think there are enough far-sighted members of the New York black PR community to make this happen.

For one thing, it would give African-American PR pros a chance to show off their organizational and promotional skills.

Thereís a crying need for a midtown PR library and training facility and thereís plenty of good space available at present at a reasonable price.

PR firm owners donít like their employees going to another firm for a training session. PRS offices on Maiden Lane are too inconvenient for use. PR groups are forced to use the offices of PR firms or go from one bar to another.

A PR library could stock PR and business trade papers and directories and provide some computer stations for PR pros and reporters.

A gulf has opened in recent years between the press and PR and this would be one way for PR to extend a welcoming hand.

One mark of a profession is that it has a library open to the public.

We have brought this idea up to leaders in the New York African-American community and theyíre interested. What they have to do is interest some heavy-hitters in business, industry, sports and entertainment.

Itís time for the New York African-American community to go Big League.

Awards Will Draw Audience

The tried-and-true formula for fund-raising events is to recognize those who have excelled in one area or another.

Companies and PR firms with the best records of employing African-Americans can be recognized as well as PR and ad campaigns that feature African-Americans.

Blacks who have won promotions at companies or firms can be recognized.

Involvement should be sought of the National Assn. of Black Journalists whose 4,000 members include 700 PR pros.

Excellence in black journalism could also be recognized at the event.