Exploring Current Affairs through a PR Lens on the PR Bants Podcast

Finding opportunities to bring PR and current affairs together is something that I absolutely love to do.  The ability to assess and breakdown every day news and even pop culture from a public relations perspective is not only insightful but allows for deeper critical thinking. I recently joined Bieneosa and Paul of PR Bants on Episode 43 of their podcast. We had a great conversation which was not only challenging but allowed us to take a deep dive into some of the issues that were trending on our social media timelines at the time of recording.

The episode covered:

  • The leaked Labour Party report #LabourLeaks

  • How world leaders are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

  • Why Downing Street should open up press briefings to diverse media oulets

  • How to tackle 5G conspiracy theories and dealing with misinformation

  • Zoom’s security issues and the impact it’s having on the platform’s reputation

Bieneosa Ebite and Paul Nezandonyi both work in public relations and use the PR Bants podcast as an opportunity to explore current affairs through a PR lens with a bit of banter thrown in. Tweet @PRbants using the hashtag #PRbants

Who Really Profits From Black Influence?

Black influence has been making cultural waves across social media platforms since their inception. Before Twitter and Facebook there was MySpace, where Black creatives inadvertently learnt how to code or even further back there was BlackPlanet which some could argue was the dedicated platform for Black collective discourse and debate. Black influence is how Black communities and diaspora groups around the world use the digital landscape to mobilise, educate, inform and entertain whilst also shaping cultural and media landscapes. But as we move into new territory when it comes to influence and social media the question remains who really profits from Black influence and how do members of Black communities ensure that they are not written out of the proverbial history books when it comes to online trends.

Who really profits from Black influence? The short answer to this question is of course the social media platforms and the owners of these social media platforms, founders like Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg and their ilk have managed to give us these “free to use” platforms whilst monetising all of our individual levels of influence.  If we look at who else profits from Black influence then it’s obviously brands, specifically when it comes to trending topics and virality where the focus tends to be Black Twitter. There is also the media outlets who often use Black trending topics for content and commission journalists who aren’t always Black to discuss those trending topics. The focus is often on Black Twitter as a marker for measuring Black influence but there is Black Instagram, Black Facebook, Black YouTube and even Black LinkedIn. They might not have the same impact in terms of online trending topics but they exist.

We also see how the influence of global Black communities has had an impact on newer platforms like TikTok. There was recently a popular discussion about Jalaiah Harmon, the original creator of a dance routine called Renegade which went viral on TikTok who was not being credited for her work until Black Twitter and mainstream media shone a spotlight on her story.  It’s not the first time that this happened, remember when Peaches Monroee, the woman who coined the catchphrase “on fleek” had to create a GoFundMe page to raise money despite her catchphrase being monetised by major brands and even musicians. She didn’t get a chance to monetise her influence quickly enough before the catchprase’s popularity started to wane. There was also the case of Twitter influencer, MinaLioness being used in a popular Lizzo song initially without credit (or royalties) until that case was resolved.  There are a lot of blurred lines and grey areas surrounding copyright and intellectual property rights when things go viral whether it’s viral videos, dance moves or even tweets. But there is still a lot that Black influencers (big and small) can do when they go viral which I’ve discussed a few times before. The key is to be intentional, strategic and responsive in order to capitalise on influence which unfortunately doesn’t always happen quickly enough in the Twitter space. However I have seen that Black influence is easier to monetise on Instagram and YouTube but that is often because content creators or “career influencers” shape those spaces. When a piece of content by someone who isn’t a “career influencer” goes viral, they sometimes struggle to take control of their newfound popularity. While Black “career influencers” make money from paid content/monetised views (on Youtube) even though there is still an ethnicity pay gap which we need to be paying attention to. 


 Black Twitter has a few “Career influencers” who have turned their online engagement via twitter into sustainable opportunities – they often have other activities which they monetise and use twitter to promote those activities. But Black Twitter as a construct is very much about visibility, community sharing, clout and influence. It’s easier for concepts to be swallowed up without credit or cash. There have been quite a few instances when Black Twitter influence has been commercialised while Black voices remain invisible or uncredited. A good example is Love Island. 


At least 50% of the most popular accounts tweeting about Winter Love Island 2020 were Black women as the chart in the above tweet reflects. The show’s collective enjoyment would be greatly reduced without the input of Black Twitter and yet when it’s time for press junkets, media commissions, sustainable influencer marketing campaigns and in house opportunities suddenly it’s a challenge to find talent. I also want to be clear that hiring influencers isn’t enough when it comes to inclusion BUT if we’re talking about making a dent into who profits from influence then of course the minds behind these trends should be paid for their ideas:

If brands and agencies don’t have teams which include Black creatives then the cycle persist; a lack of representation in campaigns or short-lived well-intentioned messages which lack depth. It is really important that brands change both their internal teams to reflect diverse voices. There have been in recent times a few examples of what happens when Black creatives are given opportunities to mobilise Black collective influence. Let’s take Angela Brown, a Black woman and the social media strategist behind the Popeye’s Chicken viral twitter campaign which according to reports led to a significant increase in Popeye’s profits. AdWeek’s Editor credited Black Twitter for making Popeye’s chicken sandwich a sensation with some branches selling out in regions of the US. It is important to note that the restaurant chain is not Black-owned however by at least giving a Black expert an opportunity to direct the campaign one could argue that there her input proved the power of Black Twitter and Black influence. In the UK Melissa Thermidor was the mastermind behind one of the NHS’ most successful digital campaigns, harnessing Black Twitter to discuss donating blood in an appeal to increase the number of Black Donors in the UK.

I recognise that, in a society which revolves around the constant commodification of every aspect of our lives, it is nice to log into certain platforms and get collectively involved in topics of discussed without the pressure of turning those topics into a monetised activity.  However we cannot escape the fact that brands and trends are being shaped by Black influence across multiple platforms and those Black voices who are the helm of those trending topics should most certainly be given the chance to have a slice of the profit pie.

A Conversation on The Let’s Chat Comms Podcast

I really enjoyed this conversation with Phillipa Chikwedze on her Let’s Chat Comms podcast series. Aside from getting the chance to discuss my business journey we talked about all things PR, Communications, Crisis and social media. What I particularly enjoyed about recording this interview was the authentic energy between Phillipa and I. Whilst we have had different journeys within public relations we have had some similar experiences and perspectives particularly as Black women in the industry so it was really good to be able to have an open and honest conversation on this dynamic new platform. I am really passionate about encouraging more Black women to be visible in the industry and whilst this isn’t a conversation specifically about our experience as Black women it indicates how much we bring to the proverbial table and how much we can offer each other and the wider industry.

Let’s Chat Comms is a communications focused podcast platform on which Phillipa interviews individuals in public relations, working in a variety of sectors for an insight into their roles and their career journeys. I hope this podcast series makes an impact across the industry and gives listeners an insight into the PR industry in a relevant and relatable way.