How One Black Woman’s PR Firm Survived 2020

Claudine Moore runs a small business

C Moore Media International Public Relations (CMM) is a PR and communications firm operating in the U.S., Britain and Africa. Born and raised in Britain and now residing in the US, founder and managing director Claudine Moore (hyperlink describes CMM as a “ New York-headquartered Black-British-owned agency with a predominantly Black and Brown team.”

In candid, and at times very personal, terms, Moore reveals how her agency “made it through” the tumult of 2020. What was 2020 like for C Moore Media?

Moore: 2020 was a rollercoaster for us all. Professionally and personally, our lives as we knew it turned upside down. The global pandemic affected everyone everywhere. Along with our clients and partners, we operated much of 2020 in collective shock as travel stopped, industries collapsed, budgets were cut, and everyone was forced to #stayhhome as remote working became the norm. How did you adjust to this norm?

Moore: In true CMM form, we rallied, motivating ourselves, our clients and partners to pause, strategize, pivot, and change and/or evolve in line with the new normal. We also encouraged them to be bold and embrace the new reality in seeking opportunities, while also remembering to give back to the broader community during these challenging times. How did you address the pandemic itself?

Moore: We hosted our own seminar. When the pandemic hit, a slew of past and present clients, business associates and partners from all of the regions we play in, reached out to us, asking how to navigate communicating during the current crisis. We saw lots of information and insights for organizations in the West, but no one was hosting a session on Africa.

We decided to gather our squad of top Africa-focused media and communications folks to talk about how African brands, startups and organizations can maintain visibility, and how they should (and should not) convey their news during the current climate. We were excited to have over 250 attendees. How did you address the racial unrest?

Moore: The racial reckoning in the US and resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US and UK affected us deeply. We supported our clients and partners to communicate their perspectives on systemic racism and voice their support for #BlackLivesMatter to internal and external audiences.

We also had to deal with our feelings as Black and Brown people living through the trauma of the moment. It was a lot. What were your biggest crises?

Moore: In March 2020 several of our biggest clients either slashed their budgets or stopped working with us all together. I think they got their Q1 figures and data and their knee-jerk reaction was to immediately start cutting back. Once the dust settled as we collectively faced the new normal and had to adjust, brands and companies quickly realized that now was not a time to cut back on PR and comms. As a result in April/June things began to ramp up again and we ended up having one of our busiest years to date.

We had another crisis in October, in Africa. We are passionate about Africa and have worked in more than 15 African markets for over a decade. The majority of that work has and continues to be in Nigeria. Our Africa Regional Lead is based in Lagos.

When the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria against police brutality culminated in the Lekki tollgate massacre, we were stunned and shocked. We were in crisis mode, advising clients on their corporate response while dealing with the real-life anxiety and fear that our team and clients felt. Again it was a lot, but we jumped into action, creating platforms for discussion and action in the African Diaspora to support the movement. What was your proudest moment?

Moore: Our proudest moment was launching The Future is Female PR and Communications Mentorship Program on Africa Day (May 25). The program is dedicated to Black African female tech founders. It made history as the first of its kind in Africa. We were delighted to have 139 applications from 18 countries. We selected 12 mentees from South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. The program took place virtually, and the mentees participated in a master class led my me, followed by three one-on-one sessions led my David Idagu, our Africa Regional Lead, and Tope Adubi. How did you promote your brand?

Moore: I personally took part in fourteen virtual events, either as a host, speaker or moderator. It was great even during lockdown to still have your network reach out to you to share insights, expertise and knowledge with virtual audiences around the world. It was and continues to be a great way to stay connected with people.

I am an active member of the Moderate the Panel (MTP) team, an agency co-founded by Femi Oke and Leslie Shampaine to book virtual panel moderators, online event facilitators, speakers, and more. I participated in exciting virtual global events with the MTP team. Highlights include moderating The Great Debate: Food, Markets, Trade and Agriculture in the Contest of Covid-19 during the African Green Revolution Forum’s annual conference.

I participated in another event for the United Nations Development Program. I moderated a fantastic panel, titled “Creative Thinking to Solve the Interlinked Challenges of Our time.” I was joined by some fantastic panelists who shared their thoughts on inequality, urbanization, technology, and climate change. On what note did you end the year?

Moore: We made it through. I was delighted to end a pretty tumultuous year by being placed on Provoke Media’s Innovator 25 List. This is a list of the top 25 PR and communications innovators in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). After 2020 stretched me, and the team, to the limit, it felt like a nice little treat to end the year.