Behind the Headlines with Phil Andrews

Phil Andrews is the current President of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, the Past President of the 100 Black Men of Long Island, and was recently named the President of the Black Public Relations Society – New York. Phil has a long list of credentials and experiences, and as the founder of P.A. Public Relations Company, Phil has served as the Public Relations Director for a myriad of companies, community initiatives and professional organizations.

This week we sat down with Phil to discuss how he is driven by a profound concern for his community, his interest in building networks across the industry, and the importance of seeing an increase in diversity in the industry – especially at the C-Suite level.

Thus far, you’ve had a very successful career in PR and worked in a variety of organizations. What is the most important lesson about PR you’ve learned throughout your career?

Both communication and PR are wonderful tools to advance a variety of causes, and careful consideration of the stated word is of utmost importance in the mastery of communication.  If used consistently, and over a long period of time, these tools are the best way to enhance brands in the marketplace.

Congratulations on being named President of the Black Public Relations Society – New York! What are you most excited for in your new role as ­­­­­­president?

I am excited to lead the charge and to usher the next generation of PR professionals onto the scene! I am planning on doing this by hosting a variety of forums, workshops and seminars in one of the most active regions in the world — the empire state.  In addition, our organization is looking to help create access for minorities to the C-Suite of PR/ Communication industries by advocating that every societal area which utilizes these professionals sets goals for diversity and inclusion. We are hoping to lead the way for diversity and inclusion work industry wide.

In the press release announcing your new position, you said you are looking forward “to opening the doors of access to more Black PR professionals in the industry”. What does that look like to you? Is this population currently not being catered to in PR? How do you see that changing?

We will be looking at the digital arena, writing, internships, mentoring for small business owners in PR and Communication, and showcasing examples of individuals who have succeeded beyond expectations through the opportunities created by PR. If we can convince our demographic of the why, it will strengthen our capacity to further our mission and explain to our community, and society at large, why increased diversity is so important.  I am also a big advocate of training and education as a tool to create excellence in output – so I see this change coming through a lot of training!

I believe there are large gaps in the industry, as we are largely missing the perspectives of the minority community because of their small percentage in the PR and Communications industry. Advocacy for diversity and inclusion is an important tool to change this, as we begin to communicate this issue on a local and national level. I believe some aspects of society will see the benefits of being proponents of diversity and inclusion, and leading the charge in this area will inspire me to find my unique voice while inspiring others to give their input about this important mission.

How can the PR industry support greater diversity, inclusivity, and access to Black PR professionals?

The industry needs to give C-Suite opportunities to diverse professionals that have clearly attained the qualifications and skill level those positions require. If companies start to make a concerted effort to seek out those who are diverse and qualified, it will also provide role models throughout society for other minorities looking to gain entry into the C-Suite.

Do you have any advice specifically for Black PR professionals in helping them gain more access to the industry? For advancement in the industry?

Black PR professionals should embrace lifelong learning opportunities in the areas of PR and Communications, such as joining local and national organizations — including the Black Public Relations Society of New York and National Black Public Relations Society, Inc. To advance in the industry, individuals should also affiliate themselves with Public Relations Society of America which has local chapters around the country. It is well documented that belonging to these networks is a significant tool for finding and creating opportunities to advance your career.

The communication and PR industry in general is constantly evolving. How can brands keep up? How can PR professionals keep up?

Brands need to keep a pulse on the marketplace and innovate! Innovation is the hallmark of champions; innovate or die! PR professionals can keep up with this evolution by devoting a portion of their time to professional development, paying attention to trends, and networking to get a cross-section of ideas from their peers.  To stay ahead of the curve, I make sure that I don’t fall into a meaningless routine, as imagination, creativity and vision are essential for creating new levels of success.

How do you envision the future of PR? What changes do you hope to see, and what do you think needs to progress?

I envision PR raising the levels of brands even higher! PR is really one of the greatest tools on the planet, and it is only as good as the PR practitioner. I would hope that in the future we continue to use PR to create greater good in society. I hope to see the media, public relations field, and communications arena become more diverse so different voices can be heard and understood on a global scale.  So many talented professionals have a voice, but the industry needs to keep working to give them a platform to amplify their voices.

We’ve heard a lot recently about needing to leverage a combination of earned, owned, and paid media. What do you see as the best strategy for leveraging this different content? Which do you see as the most important? How can PR organizations use these different versions of media to amplify their messages?

I believe diversity in how advertising dollars are spent is another important component for getting diverse messages out to society. In many areas, minority publications are on the decline because there is a lack of diversity in how advertising dollars are spent. It will take earned, owned and paid media combined for the minority community to achieve substantial success in getting its messages out locally, nationally and globally.

I don’t think there is one best way to reach the marketplace, but we must take an integrated approach in all that we do. In today’s market, we work across a wide variety of platforms to reach our target audience.  Social media is becoming increasingly important as more and more people spend a majority of their time on this platform via a variety of devices. Therefore, PR organizations need to flipit, tweet it, share it via Facebook, create a group on Facebook, open a fan page, host an online radio show, use press releases, create a podcast, and more.  Traditional forms of media — like TV, radio, and newspapers — are also still valuable tools, even as the toolbox grows.

Any other advice for PR professionals just breaking into the industry?

PR professionals should adopt the attitude that there is always the next level to climb in the craft — you can always improve and grow.

Rapid Fire Round:

  1. I always get my morning news from… The Morning News TV and Social Media.
  2. My life philosophy is… There are no facts about the future, so why don’t you create your own!
  3. Some items on my bucket list are… to share my life story through the form of a book, leave a lasting legacy, and travel more to enjoy the wonders of the world.
  4. If I was president of my own country I would…. Lead by example!
  5.  The best gift I have ever received is… Being raised in a kind and loving environment.
  6. If I could live anywhere, it would be… Hawaii!



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