Jacqueline McClelland, mother of murdered Brandon McClelland, speaks to Final Call Staff Writer Jesse Muhammad about the gruesome dragging death of her son at the hands of two whitemen on September 16, 2008 in Paris, Texas.
This is part 3 in a six-part series onÂ Ways To Emerge as a Leader on the College Campus.
I endedÂ Part 2Â by stating that by becoming actively involved in other organizations, I soon gained the confidence to start several of my own along with some friends.
Many of you may be wondering why and how.
I then recruited many people to build membership.
After you have sent off the press release it is now time to go to the next steps to further ensure that you or your client has a successful press conference…with the media present!
1. Follow-Up With The Press:Â You should already have the phone numbers to all of the news outlets that you invited to attend your press conference. When you call the news station ask for the “News Room” and if you know who the news director is for that particular shift ask for them directly. There are sometimes different news directors during the week and the weekends.Â Ask them two questions: Did you receive the press release we sent to you all in regards to…..? Do you all have us on the press board for possible coverage?
2. Get People There On Time:Â Now, this is a task for any organizer. Being on time for a press conference is very important especially if you are establishing new relationships with your local media. If it starts at 7:00pm, request that all persons to be present 45min-to-a hour in advance. Why? Step 3 will also tell you why.
3.Â Get Everyone on the Same Page–Texas Congressman Al Green is one of the most phenomenal leaders I have witnessed that knows how to make sure his press conferences are in order way before the media arrives. Even so that he is called “The Maestro” by some of his colleagues.
Congressman Green calls for a pre-press conference meeting that everyone who is to be apart of it must be present at. He goes over the statement he will make and ensures that it is clear to everyone, also to see if anyone is opposed to it. Then he delegates who will speak following him and their exact order. Then he asks those persons to share with him and others their prepared statement to make sure they are all on the same page. Everyone is also informed where they will stand relative to the cameras. Brilliant tactics!
4. Make sure the Press Area is secure:Â Don’t wait until the media shows up to decide where they will be positioned. Lock that down in advance. Once they show up they should have a smooth transition to their spot without any confusion. It is always good to have someone whose sole job is to escort the media. Make sure it is someone who has proper handling of people who will treat the press like dignitaries.
5. Have a sign in table for the media:Â It is important to collect business cards, phone numbers and email addresses for all media that attends your press conference. You need to store them in your database for future use. Don’t let one get by without signing in.
6. Execute the Press Conference:Â Now it’s time to get started! Everyone should be in place and the key spokesperson should handle it from there. Be sure to have someone taking notes of all mistakes that may have been made during the press conference such as misinformation which needs to be corrected to the media off camera, etc.
7. Thank the press:Â Be sure to thank the media for showing up and ask them specifically when the press conference will air on their news station. Later that day send them a two-line thank you email….trust me it works.
Here are a few tips for Part 1:
1. Be real with yourself: Is the press conference really necessary? Is your product, cause, or story really newsworthy? Do you have any type of relationship with your local media or is this your first time? The answers to these questions will determine how much or less work you will have to do to get them to cover your press conference.
2. Prepare a sharp press release:Â Make sure you have a catchy headline and an attention-getting leadoff paragraph. If you don’t have that, you can bank on the fact that your email or fax may be placed in ‘File 13’. Use statistics, quotes, and please don’t forget the Five Ws and One H. Google search sample press releases online to choose which format works best for you. Avoid grammatical errors in your press release and get straight to the point.
3. Have a catchy subject line:Â This is the first thing that catches journalist and news directors when they look through emails. How is yours going to stand out? Radiate enthusiasm or seriousness through your subject line to catch their attention. So many potentially good stories may have been overlooked due to neglecting the art of subject lines. Be creative.
For example: I was doing a PR for a huge high school and middle school robotics competition in Houston last year. There were nearly 1,000 students signed up so I used the subject lineÂ “Nearly 1,000 geniuses taking Texas Southern University hostage.”—it worked!
4. Get Important Emails:Â I know you may have thought only publicists have all of the “important” emails but that is not true. Did you know you have the freedom to call up to any radio, newspaper or television company and get emails? That’s right! So ask for the emails of those who manage the news. Don’t get me wrong, it helps greatly to establish relationships in the inside so work on that too.
5. Press the Send Button:Â Wait! Spell check one more time and make sure you have included all of the information from Steps 2 and 3. Next, if you’re emailing to a mass list of news outlets, I suggest sending them bcc to protect privacy. Ready? Fire it off! Unless you have a major celebrity or you have exclusive images of life on mars, don’t wait until the last minute to send this off. Make sure this is done at least 2-3 days in advance to give the news department a chance to put you on their schedule.
Next time we’re going to talk about how to follow up without being declared a pest, setting up for the media’s arrival, and making sure everyone in the press conference is on the same page and on time!.
Over the last several months, many people have been emailing me about how I seem to have a speaking engagement or interview every week in Houston and throughout the country. In others words they say, “What is your secret?”.
I hate to disappoint you but there isÂ noÂ secret–just results produced by strategic work. A problem I used to have is that I was sitting and waiting for someone toÂ ask/call meÂ to speak instead of me approaching them toÂ ask themÂ if I could serve them. I wasn’t asking people enough about ways that I could contribute to their goals or uplift their students with my presentations.
Once I changed my approach, doors started flying open.
I stopped sitting by the phone, checking the email inbox or waiting for the next text message with a speaking offer. Instead I have been going out and creating opportunities by first being involved in the community. Nothing is going to happen for us just sitting at home and thinking someoneÂ owesÂ us a chance to speak just because we have a college degree or a certain status. Get out into the streets, attend events and get involved! Make a name for yourself. Not out of vanity but out of a desire to serve others with your words.
Once I started asking people how I canÂ help them, my phone has not stop ringing with speaking invitations. Many of them are now paid engagements and once you serve them well in your presentation you position yourself to be invited back again and again. Even if you have to speak several times for free to start out, it’s okay. Because remember your mission is to empower people with your words and if you do that, I guarantee the benefits will start flowing.
For example, I do a weekly motivational seminar at the Cheyenne Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in Houston for men. I was first invited there to speak on President Obama’s Inauguration Day and ended up addressing over 300 men. My mother works there and I did it as community service–no charge. The directors enjoyed my one hour talks so much that they offered me the opportunity to comeback anytime I wanted to speak. So since that day I decided to volunteer my time to do the weekly seminar to serve these men who are trying to change their lives around, like all of us.
Want to know the benefits for me? Look at this email I recently received from my mother regarding the impact it’s having on the men:
“I just had to stop and write this note because I am bursting with pride! All this week I have gotten constant positive feedback and affirmations from the clients here at Cheyenne Center about you…..the DSHS program sing your praises every day! They tell me I should be proud and I assure them that I am indeed. I just got a call from a former client and he told me to be sure and tell you how your speaking helped him with his self-esteem. He quoted from your presentation of “Is my Why Big Enough” and had some very sincere gratitude.”
So you want to get booked for more speaking engagements? Start offering your services rather than waiting for someone to ask you……because you may find yourself still waiting by the phone.
It has been stated by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that the best leaders are the best servants. Whether you are the head of a corporation or a community organization, it’s all about service. How do you measure up as a leader?Â
Here are a few tips:
Leadership Tip#1:Â Community service is not showing up for the cameras….but for the people.
Leadership Tip#2:Â You can’t be effective being intimidated by talented people around you.
Leadership Tip#3:Â Stop E.G.O. trippin….Excessively Getting Offended
Leadership Tip#4:Â Don’t confuse delegating with duty dodging. Be the example.
Leadership Tip#5:Â Be a catalyst not a catastrophe for your team.
Leadership Tip#6:Â Your lip service should not outweigh your actions.
Leadership Tip#7:Â Have solution-oriented meetings not boring self-boasting sessions.
Leadership Tip#8:Â Follow up on tasks given to people…start with yourself
Leadership Tip#9:Â Stay in the mode of a student daily to become a better leader. Soak up information!
Leadership Tip#10:Â Remember humility is not weakness but hidden power
I will admit that theÂ recent loss of Ester KingÂ was a huge blow to the community.
Honestly, my heart was heavy when I received a text message weeks ago that he had experienced a heart attack. And last week I got the news via another text that he had made his transition. I rarely, if ever, blog about the death of someone. However, Ester King is a man I looked up to and he always treated me like a little son.
As long as I have known him, Brother Ester was always working on behalf of our community. Whether it was speaking his mind at town hall meetings, confronting the wrongs of politicians, marching in Houston heat or sending emails about important issues, he stayed consistently focused on being a freedom fighter. He could be heard on the radio airwaves speaking truth and he never bit his tongue. He was not a coward.
When it came to the history of Houston and the struggles for justice, this man was a walking encyclopedia. What I loved most about him was he wasnâ€™t just reciting the history, but he was anÂ active participantÂ in it. Yes, he could talk but he backed it up with actions. He supported all organization that stood up for the poor and if you called on him he was there.
The last few times we saw one another,Â I took the moment to tell him thank you for all of his hard work, love and dedication to the plight of our peopleÂ and oppressed people everywhere. I told him that even though he was older than I am, I was â€œtrying to keep up with his pace.â€ He would always laugh at that but it was the truth. The brother was on the move! So-called old age didnâ€™t stop him.
In our last conversation, a week or so before his heart attack, his words to me were â€œBrother Jesse, seeing you and others doing what youâ€™re doing makes me to know that all of my work has not been in vain. Keep going. Donâ€™t let nobody stop you, son. We need more young warriors.â€ My response him was â€œWithout you and otherâ€™s guidance, I would not be who I am today and growing to become.â€
I joked with him that heâ€™d become too proficient in emailing at such an old age and had become a â€œrevolutionary spammer.â€ I jokingly threatened to block his email address and he laughed hard. We hugged and went back to work.
Many times people pass away without us telling them thank you or giving them their flowers while they can still smell them. I will miss Brother Ester and I am happy that I had an opportunity to at least tell him thank you. I will honor his life, God willing, by continuing to do good works in the community.
His family has requested in lieu of flowers that a donation be made to S.H..A.P.E. Community Center. Go toÂ http://www.shape.org/
Thank you Brother Ester!
(This blog was originally posted on September 5, 2011. Youâ€™re welcome to follow Brother Jesse Muhammad on TwitterÂ @BrotherJesse)
Flash Gordon Parks aka Jason Woods is an ethnomusicologist devoted to sharing the wonderful music history of Houston TX. He has conducted extensive research in various areas of music. Often focusing on the political, cultural, and social impact music has had on the city. Here he delivers a special preview of his documentary based on Houston’s diverse and impactful DJ culture titledÂ “This Thing We Do: Houston DJ Culture Revealed”Â [Watch Below]Â
[BJB ArchivesÂ July 6, 2011]Â
I will never forget the first time I saw these two images of Jordan Miles of Pittsburgh. It was heartbreaking and angered me. Who would do something like this to him? Answer: The Police.
On January 12, 2010, at approximately 11:00pm, Jordan was headed to his grandmotherâ€™s home around the corner from his motherâ€™s home when he was suddenly ambushed by three White plain-clothed Pittsburgh police officers who were posted up on the street in an unmarked car.
I had the opportunity to interview this young man and his mother last year for a story. In the conversation with Jordan, he told me all three men jumped out of the car without identifying themselves and shouted â€œWhereâ€™s the gun, whereâ€™s the money, whereâ€™s the drugs?â€ Thatâ€™s when Jordan began to flee because he thought he was about to be robbed.
He said â€œI took off running and slipped on the icy ground. That was the last time I was on my feet. I never fought back because I thought I was going to be killed. At this point I still didnâ€™t know these were officers but they started beating me while smashing my face into the snow.Â One of the hits came from a metal object and thatâ€™s when blood gushed from my head into the snow.â€
Before you jump to conclusions, Jordan is not a drug dealer or troublemaker. Jordan was a seniorÂ honor roll studentÂ at Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 School at that time. He played the viola as a member of both the CAPA symphony and the jazz band. Heâ€™s a law-abiding citizen whose record has been clean.
â€œWhile on the ground IÂ was saying the Lordâ€™s Prayer silentlyÂ and they would say â€œshut upâ€ and beat me more. I thought I was going to be abducted but when a marked cop car came on the scene thatâ€™s when I found out these were undercover cops,â€ he said. Jordan was taken into the county jail, where he was bleeding unceasingly and left untreated. He spent nearly 24 hours before finally being released to his worrying mother.
When he was finally released from jail, his mother Terez Miles did not even recognize him because of his distorted face caused by the beatings.
â€œThis person started walking towards me and I said to myself this person looks like the elephant man. Then he came closer to me and said â€œMamaâ€.Â I went completely hysterical.Â I started shouting. I couldnâ€™t believe this was my son,â€ she said.
Jordan also had hisÂ dreadlocks ripped from his scalp leaving multiple patches in his head. â€œI could tell she didnâ€™t know who I was but when she recognized my voice tears just swelled up in her eyes. She started yelling â€œLook at what they did to my babyâ€, he said.
Ms. Miles immediately took action by stopping at the nearest store to purchase a camera to get shots of her son before taking him to the emergency room. These are some of the images.Â Who would do such a thing? The Police.
What about the police officers? According to the family, the police crafted a completely dishonest criminal complaint, designed to explain Jordanâ€™s gruesome injuries and justify their own corrupted actions. They lied about what happened, claiming there was a bulge in his pocket they assumed was a gun but â€œturned out to be a Mountain Dew bottle.â€ Huh?
Not surprisingly, the Pittsburgh DA has not brought any charges against these three officers and the Justice Department announced on May 4th, 2011 that it would not prosecute them. The Pittsburgh Mayor and Chief of Police announced on May 5th that the three officers would be returning to their jobs.
The inaction against the White officers has sparked cries of racism by community activists who have continued to pressure the Justice Department to bring charges against them.Â People around the world are calling Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala at 412.350.4400Â and demanding that he file charges against the three police officers. I called and left a message.
Pittsburgh Hip-Hop artist and activist Jasiri X recently premiered his video â€œJordan Milesâ€ at a community gathering in the city. It got a standing ovation and Jasiri said Jordanâ€™s mother loved it. Watch it below.
Wherever you reside, do your part to help fight against police brutality.Â If this was your child, what would you want to see done?Â We Are Jordan Miles!Â www.justiceforjordanmiles.com
P.S.â€“During President Barack Obamaâ€™s Twitter Townhall Meeting today, we attempted to ask him what he thought about this case and others. He didnâ€™t get around to our questionâ€¦oh well. Better luck next time, huh?