This episode is a follow-up to Anne Green’s conversation with Dr. Osei Appiah, Ph.D. Professor, the School of Communication at The Ohio State University. Listen to it here.  

In our latest episode, Anne interviews three aspiring marketing communications professionals, Rikki Lee Joiner, Michaela Matheney, and Keilah Thompson, who are all students at OSU and members of the Black Advertising and Strategic Communications Association (BASCA).

They discuss their personal journeys to majors — and ultimately careers — in marketing communications, the specific areas of work that excite them, their experiences with BASCA, and its impact on their professional development. 

The students share their excitement and concerns about entering the industry and their thoughts on previous work and internship experiences. They also touch on the issue of bias, the challenges of being the “only one” in a room and in opening doors for others in the Black community, and offer advice for marketing organizations looking to support young Black professionals. 

Join Anne and her guests as they provide valuable insights into the marketing communications industry and share their thoughts on what it takes to help professionals from traditionally marginalized communities build successful careers in these fields. 

“Being able to tell our story, and get it right,
and to
impact people, I think, is the most important.”
— Rikki Lee Joiner

Meet the Future 

Rikki Lee launched her digital marketing firm, The Rikki Lee Agency, in the summer of 2019 after “discovering her passion for brand development.”  

She joined BASCA during her freshman year, setting her on a path to becoming president of the association, as well as serving as the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Undergraduate Society of Black Leaders. 

In her 3rd year of studies at OSU as a Marketing major, Michaela has already held several impressive internships with the Columbus Urban League, the Urban Business Development Center, and the National Center for Urban Solutions. 

A driven storyteller and former Executive Board member of BASCA, she grew up in “a really, really small town” in the South, and has recently founded her own agency, IDEA Enterprises.  

In her very first BASCA meeting, Keilah felt a familial sense of welcome. She’s graduating from OSU this year with a degree in Strategic Communications and serves on the Executive Board as the Director of Member Experience.  

“I was looking for a career that combined strategy, public speaking, and creativity,” Keilah says, and her entrepreneurial spirit has inspired her to create the unique lifestyle brand UniverSoul Expressions.  

“In the black community, we talk a lot about this proverb:
You cannot be what you cannot see.
— Michaela Matheney

Inspiration in Representation 

With the rise of social media and other platforms, it’s crucial that aspiring young Black professionals have access to (and the ability to become) role models in the industry and “that living blueprint for what you want to do.” 

Rikki Lee knows it’s vital for students to be a part of ecosystems like BASCA and the Undergraduate Society of Black Leaders to discover not only professional opportunities but to “see people that are taking up space and that have a seat at these tables — being able to intimately interact with them and ask the very important questions.” 

“When you create that representation, you empower people,” as Michaela points out. “When you’re in BASCA or organizations like it, you’re truly creating pathways to allow other people to follow,” which is critical for increasing diversity and equity in the industry. 

The root of marketing is telling compelling stories. Keilah has been assisting Dr. Appiah with research into cultural voyeurism and sees her Gen Z peers reshaping the very concept of publicity, especially in the realm of entertainment.  

“It’s very candid, very transparent,” she notes, and absolutely essential to help “someone in another race gain perspective on Black people and their experiences through social listening by being a voyeur.” 

“Being in this position, of trailblazing the visibility of our culture,
comes with a great deal of
accountability and responsibility.”
— Keilah Thompson

Creating Human Connections 

“Social media is becoming very transformational in how we communicate and engage,” Keilah notes. “We can be very disconnected from each other’s perspectives, lifestyles, and challenges.” 

Michaela is invested in philanthropy and advocating for human welfare. “Sometimes the world is really dark, and we see horrible things on social media,” she acknowledges, but the new media landscape enables us to “have access to those beautiful stories,” the ones that inspire, motivate, and “give you so much hope for humanity.” 

During her internship at Sylvain in New York City, Rikki Lee received an invaluable piece of advice. “Be willing to be unapologetically you. Bringing all of you to the table is the best thing that you can ever do because the world needs more of you.”

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