The Crusader Newspaper Group

The Power of Chicago’s Black Press

By Carl West, TBTNews

The business seed has been planted. The Black Press in Chicago came together like never before and challenged a formidable supermarket chain, and won. Actually, to be transparent, all parties involved have come up victorious. Not only did six media entities get a win, their opponent Mariano’s, was also victorious.

Mariano’s now openly and respectfully gets to do what most big businesses aim to do– and that’s to create strategic marketing partnerships to increase its bottom line.

marianos store3The difference between Mariano’s, which acknowledges the value of the Black Press, and other big corporate brands, is that the others most times completely ignore Black media in their efforts to invade Black communities and extract as much discretionary money as possible, without ever giving back anything relevant. There is never an even exchange.

And most successful business people know that there should always be a mutual understanding.

The Black Press is not charity. The Black Press doesn’t have its hands out looking for something for nothing. The Black Press entities involved in the Mariano’s campaign, each have a long history in Chicago as credible and respectable news organizations.

Most have over 30 plus years in business, aside from TBTNews, whose place in the media landscape would not be possible were it not for others who paved the way like the Chicago Crusader, Chicago Defender, the Citizen News, N’DIGO and WVON, each with careers in media spanning as far back as 110 years (the Sengstacke brand).

With that said, never in recent history have multiple Black media companies in Chicago entrusted some of their future earnings to each other. Not until now. And they did so in an astounding fashion. They observed a problem, which was not a new problem, but one nonetheless. Acknowledging this problem came with an immediate solution; individually and collectively, the media entities agreed that it was time to act. They gathered, discussed and decided this was a fight for which they needed to join forces.

This journey started with an article that addressed concerns of each media outlet mentioned. It seemed like a good discussion and from there came some inquiries. Those inquiries proved positive and the rest is history, so to speak. Meetings took place between Mariano’s key executives and the alliance of Black media owners.  From those intense but productive meetings came an understanding that something should be done to merge a partnership.

Following that unanimous decision the questions were “when?” and “how?” Those were simply answered questions for the Black Press. Mariano’s agreed, and came to terms on the requested proposals. The final meeting sealed the deal. All parties felt vindicated and ready to move forward.

This week starts a 17-week advertising campaign that will appear simultaneously in each media organization’s publication.

Mariano’s commercial will run on WVON. Advertising inserts will be in the Chicago Crusader, the Chicago Defender, the Citizen, and N’DIGO, and in the digital edition of each newspaper.  A banner ad will be placed in TBTNews.

As media partners we will assist in planning the company’s signature one-year anniversary celebration, scheduled for October 25 and 26.

This partnership is historic. It is important to highlight and celebrate this small victory. Small because there are so many more challenges to combat. But Black media is prepared to replicate the success of this partnership with other companies that infiltrate the Black community and don’t engage with the Black Press.

That speaks directly for upcoming political elections as well. The Governor’s race utilizes a heavily funded advertising campaign. However, candidates have always been slow and very reluctant to spend significantly with Black media. The Black Press is prepared to challenge this pattern.

It is important to express to our business community that strategic relationships can work if there is a concerted agreement and strong leadership. Black folks know how to lose, something we’re very familiar with, in all industries from education, politics, community service, and business.

The one thing Black media kept discussing was how important this battle is for our community. We proved that Black media companies negotiate.  That was priority number one, and it was a win for the community.

Mariano’s and its executive team showed respect for our profession and wanted to find a solution. We appreciate their sincerity and the opportunity to do good business with them.

Two aldermen who joined with us to ensure that this challenge would be fair and on neutral territory deserve thanks. Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) and Alderman Sophia King (4th Ward), exhibited leadership on this particular issue that proved invaluable, and we thank them both.

The Black Press is committed to acting as one unit as it executes its designated duty to support Mariano’s, and to identify other corporations’ indifference in marketing and advertising in the Black Press.

We are armed and ready for battle. Today, we rejoice and celebrate this small victory. But remember, Chicago’s Black media is unified, and watching!

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