Neil Foote, President & Founder, Foote Communications
Now, more than ever, we need a calming, voice of reason. During his life, the Rev.-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offered the nation – and for that matter, the world – a framework and rationale for race, equality – and image. In King’s 1967 book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”, targets his message right at the heart of the nation then – and now:
“For its very survival’s sake, America must re-examine old presuppositions and release itself from many things that for centuries have been held sacred. For the evils of racism, poverty and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born. … Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness.”
To put this in the context of our world today, we, as public relations practitioners, who are shaping messages, brands and images every day, must be conscious every day on what we can do to raise our “nation to a higher destiny.” The process begins with the basic premise that we accept that our nation is becoming increasingly diverse and can’t go back to the “good ol’ days”. The mere notion of “taking America back” would make Dr. King bristle. He would quickly remind us that the United States is not and never was owned by just a single group or type of people, but, in fact, was built by a diverse group of individuals from around the world.
Dr. King would challenge all forms of media, public relations professionals and advertising agencies to recruit, retain and promote diverse executives. He would argue that you need diverse perspectives working in all levels of the organization, particularly those responsible for creating campaigns. Dr. King would question any mass-market public relations or advertising campaign that did not include any people of color. He would point out that since we all consume so much media that stereotypes are reinforced by what we think about each other based on what we see on TV, in movies, in commercials, throughout the Internet and in social media.
Dr. King would urge all public relations professionals and marketers to embrace the notion of ‘somebodiness.’ The concept that says that that if we believe in the necessity of humaneness in all we do that we must be inclusive to ensure that everyone feels like they are somebody who is just as worthy as the next person – regardless of their faith or the color of their skin.