Crime and youth violence is a major problem in cities across the country and Memphis is no exception. NBA Los Angeles Laker and Memphis native Tarik Black made a promise that if he was ever successful, he would come back home and do his part to make a difference. In January 2017, The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) managed the launch of the Tarik Black Foundation and introduced the Mid-south to his Transformation50 Basketball and Life Skills camp.
More than 50 area coaches attended the news conference to recommend their team members for the camp. Along with public relations for the launch of the foundation, The CMG team was responsible for creating the website www.TarikBlackFoundation.org, the social media platforms and collateral material for the foundation.
Due to the news conference, 90 percent of the camp participants were secured and major brand awareness was generated for the Tarik Black Foundation.
Since 2007, urban renewal, economic development and cultural tourism has been the focus of a 20-block area in downtown Memphis, Tennessee called the Memphis Heritage Trail. The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) has been working on this project since day one. The purpose of the project is to recognize the significant contributions of African Americans who helped shape the rich business, cultural, and musical heritage of Memphis.
As a part of the planning phase, through charrettes, stakeholder meetings, and surveys we were able to obtain a sense of what the Memphis community felt about this type of tourism project and how it should be shaped. CMG worked with the community to name, brand and promote the project through the www.MemphisHeritageTrail.com website, social media platforms, public relations, informational video and special events.
CMG worked with the City of Memphis to create The Memphis Heritage Trailblazer Awards event where noted civil rights legends were honored and an update was provided on the Memphis Heritage Trail Project. The official trail will be unveiled in April 2018 as a part of the 50th Anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and the Legislature created the Achievement School District (ASD) in 2011 as an intervention district for low performing schools in the state. Aspire Public Schools was one of the first charter management organizations approved to operate a school. Most of the 5 percent of low performing schools were in Memphis, Tennessee and in minority communities. Aspire had to determine which schools they were interested in and the residents in those communities needed to accept them to operate the schools.
The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) in the first year worked with the Aspire team to meet key elected officials, community leaders, stakeholders and parents and to provide collateral material for enrollment, billboard designs and public relations. Today, we continue to provide those services and we have created their local website and social media platforms for the five school system. www.AspireMemphis.org.
In an effort to educate Americans about the health benefits and break down barriers about seafood, the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) conducts grassroots public health educational programs across the country. In 2014, SNP partnered with The Carter Malone Group, LLC CMG) as a pilot city to launch the campaign and officially launched in 8 other cities the next year.
We have a coalition in Memphis of elected officials and leaders in the business, healthcare and wellness, faith, culinary and academia communities to support the SNP campaign. Our team created a Healthy Heart Summit and a partnership with Kroger Stores to collect Healthy Heart Pledges at 20 area locations to educate members of the community about the health benefits of eating seafood twice a week. The CMG team developed a Celebrity Chef Cook-Off and Restaurant Week highlighting restaurants who offer healthy seafood dishes.
The campaign received more than 710,000 media impressions through media relations efforts with WREG-TV, WHBQ-TV, WATN-TV, The New Tri-State Defender, The Commercial Appeal and WHAL-FM.
There was not an advertising budget but leveraged our digital and social media against partner communication resources and had a return of 40 percent of our total budget in in-kind promotions. The national campaign launched in October 2015 in 8 cities.
We continue to engage the community through the www.Seafoodnutrition.org and www.SNPMemphis.com websites, social media channels and through community events. The CMG team is currently leading the nation in the number Healthy Heart Pledges committed to date.
Memphis and Shelby County have ranked in the bottom 10 percent of most studies as it relates to health, healthy eating, exercise, disease management and prevention.
The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) developed and implemented two major integrated marketing campaigns for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) during the past three years: The Healthy Church Challenge, 2012 and 2013; and, The Healthy Church Fairs, 2014. The primary goal of both campaigns was to help educate and empower West Tennesseans to live healthier lifestyles. CMG was responsible for: branding, collateral, recruitment, public relations, media relations, advertising, sponsors, volunteers and community partners.
We recruited West Tennessee churches to register to participate in the 100-day Healthy Church Challenge. Each church had a team coordinator and bi-weekly events featured a fitness instructor, a nutritionist, exercise sessions and weigh-ins. The Challenge culminated with an Obesity Summit that presented ways to stay healthy and fit after the Challenge. BCBST awarded a first, second and third place prize to the church team that had the greatest percentage of weight loss.
The inaugural Challenge garnered CMG a Best in Show VOX Award from the Public Relations Society of America and catapulted the community into year two.
In 2014, CMG coordinated nine Healthy Church Fairs on consecutive Saturdays at nine churches in Shelby County. Each health fair included: clinical screenings, health vendors, health-based associations, healthy cooking and exercise demonstrations and educational sessions. The health fairs continued to build brand awareness for BCBST and to support the company’s goal of impacting the health population of this community.
The campaigns received more than 3 million media impressions through media relations efforts with WREG-TV, WMC-TV, WHBQ-TV, WATN-TV, The New Tri-State Defender, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis Daily News, Memphis Health & Fitness Magazine, Spirit Magazine, WHAL-FM and WDIA-AM. BCBST received a return of over 75 percent of its advertising budget in in-kind promotions.
The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) worked with The National Civil Rights Museum’s (NCRM) Communications team to develop and implement an integrated marketing communications strategy for the grand re-opening of the museum February 1 – March 4, 2014.
CMG was responsible for: concept, development, execution, marketing and public relations. There were a number of events associated with the re-opening that CMG was responsible for that included: the NCRM Drop the Mic Poetry Slam; the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act; the Breaking of the Chains Grand Re-opening Ceremony and Community Day.
CMG accomplished the defined goals of the plan: to increase national awareness; reintroduce the NCRM to target audiences through an integrated marketing communications; develop special events to increase museum memberships; and recruit and retain corporate partners.
The earned broadcast, print and online placements returned more than 900 placements on major network affiliates (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) and other national and local networks for a promotional value that exceeded $1.3 million.
In early 2007, the oldest civil rights organization in the country was mired in controversy. Bruce Gordon, the president of the organization resigned due to perceived conflicts with the board of directors. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was at a crossroads with interim leadership and a great deal of negative press.
One of the new members of the board of directors for the NAACP, Dr. David Goatley, asked The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) to assist the organization for four months on a pro bono basis with public relations leading up to their 98th annual convention on July 7-12, 2007 in Detroit, Michigan.
CMG was familiar with the NAACP and their president’s departure from the organization. We reviewed numerous articles from national newspapers. His resignation was very public and contentious. Mr. Gordon led the NAACP for 19 months.
CMG had several discussions with Dr. Goatley to gauge the pulse of the communications situation and board sentiments.
The NAACP was in the process of reorganization, and they were downsizing. Their communications department was reduced to one employee, a communications specialist, Richard McIntire. There was not a senior public relations person on staff.
Planning/Goals and Objectives
After being introduced to Mr. Hayes, the president of CMG scheduled a meeting at the NAACP headquarters to discuss the state of the organization and assess the communications needs. Mr. Hayes included Mr. McIntire in our meeting, and we discussed the status of their communications department. Our goals were to assist in generating positive media leading into the convention and let the general public know that the NAACP has a strong interim leader in Mr. Hayes.
Our objectives were to attract national media coverage to the convention and position the NAACP as a cohesive and relevant organization with strong interim leadership.
The audience was the general public and those interested in civil and human rights issues. We also were targeting individuals who might be affected by some of the key topics addressed at the convention.
CMG created a strategy which assigned tasks per organization. CMG would be responsible for media credentialing, media tours, interview pitching, coordinating news conferences and writing daily media opportunities and news releases. Mr. McIntire would serve as NAACP staff liaison, supervise the media room and assist in coordinating media interviews.
CMG sent three staff members to the convention to work the media room and assist with public relations. The team created the following media opportunities and news releases: main convention news release, “N” Word burial, presidential candidates attend convention, authors pavilion, Act-So winners, mortgage lenders lawsuit and universal health care discussion.
The entire media credentialing process was managed by the CMG. The staff was responsible for distribution of the credentialing requirements, receiving requests, creation and on-site distribution. We worked with local volunteers to make sure the process was a good experience for the media.
International, national and local media attended the convention. CMG worked with them on-site to coordinate interviews with NAACP leadership and prominent guests of the convention. The media interviewed, Presidential Candidates Senators Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, Filmmaker Michael Moore, Rapper Master “P”, Kurtis Blow and others that week.
One of the highlights of the convention was the symbolic burial of the “N” Word. CMG staff members were strategically placed at the beginning of the processional and on the location of the funeral to direct media and keep the process moving. CMG coordinated interviews with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Church Of God In Christ Bishop P.A. Brooks and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
All of the stories generated from the convention were positive. No reporters asked about the departure of Mr. Gordon, and they had opportunities to interview Interim President Dennis Hayes and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. CMG worked with the NAACP staff to make sure the news releases were posted on the NAACP web site immediately after release to the media.
The “N” Word burial and the presidential candidate sessions generated large media interests. Media outlets from around the world attended these events. CMG received a letter from Mr. McIntire, with the NAACP, thanking us for our contribution to the success of the Convention. As a department of one, Mr. McIntire was able to utilize the CMG staff as an extension of his team and was able to accomplish a major body of work in a short period of time.
The NAACP was so pleased with our work that they recommended CMG to the law firm partnering with them on the mortgage lending discrimination lawsuit. CMG was also asked to work with the NAACP on their 2008 annual convention.
Bishop G. E. Patterson died on March 20, 2007. As the Presiding Bishop of the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. (COGIC), he was the Pentecostal religious leader to more than 6.5 million members worldwide. Bishop Patterson still handled the day-to-day operations of the National Church even though he was being treated for prostate cancer.
The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) was hired by Bishop Patterson to represent COGIC in 2004. We were the first public relations firm for the denomination. During Bishop Patterson’s administration, we worked directly with him or his Chief Operating Officer (COO) Bishop Jerry Maynard.
On that Tuesday afternoon, a television news producer called the CMG office and asked if Bishop Patterson had died, and he was told not to our knowledge. The CMG President Deidre Malone immediately called Bishop Maynard to obtain the status of Bishop Patterson’s health. Bishop Maynard confirmed the passing of Bishop Patterson, and CMG started creating the public relations plan to handle an international story, the death of a well-respected religious leader.
We were in the process of creating a crisis communications plan for this incident, but it was not complete. His death was sudden, and we had to manage the media chaos that went with the departure of an international leader and prepare for the upcoming events over the next two weeks.
Our major resources for protocol on the death of a COGIC leader were the First Assistant Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, COO Bishop Maynard and General Secretary Joseph Lyles. CMG learned about the order and number of services and the protocol associated with those programs. Since we were the first public relations firm hired by the denomination, we were able to quickly gain access to individuals who were able to share information with us relative to planning.
Planning/Goals & Objectives
Planning was a day-to-day process. Due to the stature of Bishop Patterson in the international community, there was a high level of media interest and prominent figures made plans to attend the funeral services, CMG developed media opportunities daily, a credentialing letter, scheduled interviews and news conferences during the 12-day period.
Our goals and objectives were to make sure the media received relevant information in an adequate time frame, the international church leadership was pleased with the media coverage and Mrs. Louise Patterson, the widow of Bishop Patterson, was apprised and happy with the manner in which we managed the public relations process.
Our audiences were the general public and the religious community.
Bishop Patterson passed at 4 p.m. right before the prime time news period. CMG learned of his death from a television news producer. After receiving confirmation of his death, CMG recommended having a news conference at 6 p.m. at the hospital and issuing a media statement officially announcing Bishop’s passing. All the media outlets and The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper, attended the news conference. COO Bishop Maynard read the prepared statement and answered questions.
After the news conference, the CMG staff met to create a general public relations strategy. We began writing the daily media opportunities and the final news release and incorporating Interim Presiding Bishop Blake into all interview requests. We started working with various media outlets on photo or video requests for special programming or special editions.
CMG created a media credentialing letter and distributed it to national, regional and local religious reporters. We started receiving requests for credentials immediately. All the local television stations covered this story daily from the Bishop lying-in-state at Mason Temple COGIC to the final funeral service at Temple of Deliverance COGIC. The Word Network and all the local stations carried the final service live on their stations. The final service was also streamed live via the Internet.
CMG worked with the staff of President Bill Clinton to coordinate his quote in the final news release and his visit to the funeral. We also worked with staffs of President George W. Bush, the Secretary of HUD Alphonso Jackson and Mrs. Michelle Obama to coordinate their visit to the international funeral and a presidential proclamation.
There were three funeral services, one for local church members, the second for members of the jurisdiction and the third was the international service for the general public. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick attended the local church service and President Bush and religious leaders from other denominations attended the international funeral.
This was a very emotional project for our staff because we were under the impression that he was actually doing well. The passing of Bishop Patterson was sudden, and we were not prepared for his death. Our goals and objectives were met and surpassed. We were able to coordinate all interview requests, create and distribute media credentials and escort all media outlets during the various services for their video or photographic needs.
The homegoing of Bishop Patterson received more than 31.7 million media impressions. COGIC has churches in 58 different countries. Many international, national and local newspapers and web sites posted stories daily about the late Bishop Patterson.
In September 2004, representatives from The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG) met with Church Of God In Christ, Inc. (COGIC) Presiding Bishop G. E. Patterson to propose hiring our firm to handle public relations for the denomination. A week later, the leader of one of the largest religious denominations in the world, accepted our proposal.
COGIC is a 97 –year-old Pentecostal international religious denomination headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. COGIC has more than 6 million members. The CMG is the first public relations firm to represent COGIC in the history of the denomination.
Our research showed that COGIC had somewhat of a negative image in the Mid-South region. This was primarily due to hotel rate disputes during previous convocations and a lawsuit from a splinter group trying to use the name the “Church Of God In Christ” in the name of their new denomination. It didn’t help that during the annual COGIC Convocation, the media would customarily write stories about female delegates wearing large hats and mink coats, as well as problems with hotel rooms and how much money the annual meeting brings to the city of Memphis.
Every Holy Convocation for the denomination has been held in Memphis and in the last few years, COGIC leadership has threatened to take the annual meeting to another city to obtain better hotel rates and a higher level of respect from a potential host city.
In the early 2004, Presiding Bishop G. E. Patterson filed a lawsuit against an offset group wanting to call itself Church Of God In Christ New Day. This story ran on every local television news program, newspaper and local talk shows prompting conversation that couched COGIC as being heavy handed.
Planning/Goals and Objectives
CMG was retained in September 2004. Bishop Patterson observed the coverage the National Baptist Congress for Christian Education in June and wanted to receive that same level of positive press.
Our goal for the COGIC 97th Holy Convocation was to educate the Mid-South on the denomination that was born in Memphis. CMG thought it was important to share with the community the history of the denomination, the current programs and the true flavor of an African-American religious convention.
Also, during this convocation an election was held for the board of directors and the leader of the denomination. The previous elections were mired in controversy with a presiding bishop winning an election by one vote and the challenger, the current presiding bishop, letting the vote stand. Some of the delegates were not happy with the selection and let their voices be heard.
During our planning, we realized it was going to be important to let the community know how important it really is to have the denomination hold their annual convocation in Memphis. We also wanted to let the community know how much COGIC appreciates Memphis.
CMG started the process by setting up meetings with key media influencers to discuss COGIC’s past and future media coverage. CMG coordinated meetings with Otis Sanford, Deputy Editor for The Commercial Appeal and the Presiding Bishop. CMG met with the news directors of 3 of the local television stations regarding past and present coverage. CMG asked them to think their past coverage that has been so stereotypical of African-Americans and consider covering stories that actually educate their viewers/readers on COGIC, their history and what COGIC is involved in today.
The Commercial Appeal committed to running a guest column by Presiding Bishop Patterson. The column ran the week of the convocation. CMG told the television and radio stations that we would provide some story ideas for them to consider. The stations loved the idea of having an agency provide them story ideas. All of the stations selected stories from our recommended list.
CMG created a media kit which included a news release, a fact sheet; bios, photographs of the Presiding Bishop, the Presidium and the media policy. The kits were delivered to each media outlet and were also sent to the Associated Press reporter and key religious reporters in the top media markets.
CMG started receiving calls a week before the convocation for interviews, and we worked non-stop throughout the nine day event. This was the first time COGIC had a media room and the media was thrilled to have someone at all times to go to for assistance.
The convocation started officially with a day of prayer on November 8 and wrapped up the day of the election on November 16, 2004.
The results were very impressive. The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper, ran positive stories almost every day on the Presiding Bishop and the convocation. Reporter James Dowd did an incredible job of getting to know the delegates and featuring some of the story ideas that we recommended. Associated Press reporter Woody Baird interviewed Bishop Patterson during the convocation and reported the Bishop’s opinion on issues regarding the Black Church, President George W. Bush and the Evangelical church. This story ran in newspapers across the country.
The local television stations reported primarily on Bishop Patterson and his term as Presiding Bishop, What is the Holy Convocation, Why it is important to have the Holy Convocation in Memphis, the media also interviewed long term delegates, first time participants and the election.
Newspapers from across the country ran a story about Bishop Patterson and the convocation. Potentially close to 12 million readers or viewers had an opportunity to learn more about the COGIC.
A major result from this experience is having the local media recognize your client as an approachable resource for national stories of importance.