At our last #FridayForum of 2020 (aka Season Finale), Robin Beaman made us laugh, shared career stories, and inspired us to reach new heights. Robin’s remarkable career includes establishing the PR department at Black Entertainment Television (BET) and managing publicity, community engagement and special events for The Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah Winfrey Presents. Today, her firm, Beaman Inc., is an award-winning communication and advertising agency representing A-list companies.
PRSA-SV Board Member Curtis Sparrer moderated the discussion. During today’s #FridayForum, he announced his “president-elect” standing with the San Francisco Press Club. That’s in addition to serving on our board and the Forbes Communications Council, working with the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association and managing his firm, Bospar PR.
What’s it like working with Oprah?
Robin said Oprah, “lives the life that she speaks” and believes it’s important to “feed other people’s dreams and be a cheerleader.” She shared her favorite story about how Oprah knew one of Robin’s personal dreams to be a singer. Oprah connected her with Patti Labelle and arranged for them to perform together in front of family and friends. Robin said that experience continues to inspire her to help others pursue their dreams.
Persistence and prep pay off
When asked about how she landed a position with BET, Robin said it took five years of persistence and networking. She first met Sheila, wife of BET Founder Bob Johnson, while working at the Capitol Children’s Museum in Washington, DC. After many no’s about getting a position with BET, eventually Robin got a yes.
“You want to make sure that you prepare for the opportunity. I put the time in. I got an MBA. When the opportunity presented itself, I was ready,” Robin said.
Everyone can be a power player
Robin attributes the success of her agency to a constant strive for excellence. “I surround myself with wonderful people. People who are at the top of their game. It doesn’t matter whether they are employees or consultants.” Once she finds these people, she nurtures the relationships because, “the more you do that, the more they, in return, will want to help you.”
She also uses a “5 C’s” approach to guide her agency, and her life: “Connection, Celebration (of ourselves and others), Compassion, Champion (the noun and verb), and (client) Confidentiality.
Robin’s wish for us in 2021 is to, “Prosper, have peace that we create, and dream big. You don’t have to figure out HOW you’re going to do it yet. Just dream about it. Write it down. And then make it real.”
Highlights of Q&A with Robin
How do you respond to clients who want to use you to get to Oprah?
If a client is coming to me just because they want an Oprah interview, then I’m probably not the best person for them. I work with individuals who want to put a long-term strategy together. You have to be honest and present real opportunities to the client so they’re not disappointed.
How do you feel about the PR community’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
I think the PR industry has a lot of work to do. Everybody should be represented in our companies, our PR agencies, and beyond.
What are your thoughts on client gifts?
It’s really important to understand what your clients like. Be thoughtful in your approach. One year we sent ice cream to clients with their names on it.
Which PR Skills are the most essential?
Being able to customize is a skill we need more than ever. We need to understand our audiences and present stories that are a real fit. We have to be great storytellers. We also need to be strategic.
(Curtis added that paying attention is also a key skill – especially when everything’s coming at you and you’re multitasking.)