Back to In-Person Training

As a trainer and lecturer, you don’t really know your impact until the evaluations come in. Allow me to share some comments that make me very proud of my first in-person lecture – outside of teaching at Howard University – since the pandemic’s start. I’ve conducted several Zoom trainings, but there is nothing like meeting face-to-face. The personal interaction, the storytelling, filling the room with my energy is where I shine, and it’s my “superpower.” 

From my client, Legacy International – On behalf of Legacy International, Amideast, and the U.S. Department of State – Palestinian Affairs Unit, a huge thank you for supporting the participants from Palestine during this year’s Professional Development Immersion Program. Your session (Social Media For Your Personal Brand) and the social technovation session were the only training sessions that received a full 5.0 stars from all participants! They were highly impacted by your training and were motivated by your energy and excellent facilitation skills! 

Here’s what some of the participants had to say: 
“I love her. She is funny, smart, professional, and a great teacher.” 
“The most energetic session ever!” 
“It was so fun so nice and glamorous woman I would love to be like her when I grow up.” 
“Very helpful and informative. You get to see from a professional point of view how the media works.” 
“So energetic it changed my mind about being active in social media.” 
“It was very good. We learned how to brand our name and to work more on social media life.” 

Such high praise from an amazing group of young professionals. I’m proud to have given my support to help this very important program to be successful despite significant COVID-era hurdles.

You can now call me Professor Ricks!

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the distinguished Cathy Hughes School of Communications at my beloved Howard University, I joined the Strategic, Legal and Management Communication Department as an Adjunct. I’ll be teaching a “Social Media and Integrated Marketing” for the Fall 2021 semester and a Programming and Media Planning class for the Fall 2020 session.

This appointment is a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to pour into my School of C Baby Bison. Now I can take my 35+ years of experience in mass communications and give back to the University and the School that helped form me into the professional and leader I am today. I always say, my parents gave me life but Howard made me.

Also, I love full-circle moments.

Here’s to a great school year!

Making MOVES

I am happy to announce that I have joined the Peloton Interactive family.

Peloton works to empower people through fitness; even more, we work to empower our employees and our community by striving to be the best place to work for the world’s top talent, the best business partner, and the best corporate citizen.

BET Celebrates 40 Years of Black Excellence

BET is celebrating its 40th anniversary. I got my start in media communications at BET. The network just went 24-hours. BET corporate offices where Georgetown in DC. The production offices, where I worked out of, was in a TV studio in Bethesda, Md. I was an aspiring producer, and BET gave me all the space I needed to develop my craft.

Soon the network expanded, and we ended up leaving our small studio in Maryland and moving to production facilities in Virginia. I moved from a Production Assistant to Associate Producer to a Producer. My career grew as BET expanded, and eventually, we found ourselves in a campus owned and operated by BET. These were the gilded years of black entertainment, and I grew expeditiously.

I ended up leaving and coming back to the network three times throughout my career. I worked with an incredible group of people, produced some stellar music video shows and music specials, met some fantastic artists and record industry folks, and turned several co-workers into lifelong friends.

If I could say something to that aspiring my younger, aspiring producer self it would be this:

•STOP stressing out, or find a way to release the stress. (Stress is going to make you sick)

•Stay in touch with your contacts (seriously, how did you lose touch with Benny Medina???)

•Don’t let other people define you (they don’t know your life!)

•Take a professional development course (you need coaching on how to be a better boss)

•Ignore the haters (20 years from now they will have zero impact on your life)

Other than that, enjoy it, girl. This is going to be the highlight of your young career

What advice would you give to your younger self at the start of your career?

So, What’s Your Story?

What would you say if someone asked you to tell them your story? We all have a story to tell. We all represent our own brand. But when it comes right down to it, are you able to tell your brand story. I have to admit, it wasn’t easy for me!

Everyone has a story… here’s mine.

Since primitive humans painted the first images on cave walls, storytelling has been around as one of the most effective ways to convey a message and get others to take action. I have made a career out of telling the stories of others leveraging traditional and new media.

My background is in broadcast media with two decades of experience producing for network and cable TV. For ten years, I dedicated my career to social and digital media. But whether I’m telling a story for millions of viewers on television, thousands on social or helping thought leaders and organizations craft their messaging, I am a storyteller at heart.

Schedule a time for us to chat so we can start to tell YOUR story!

The Role Of AI In Immersive Storytelling

Every Story Starts Here

The past week at the NAB Show was sensory overload in all things tech and development. My focus was on ways emerging technology was shaping immersive storytelling. With that in mind, I saw some innovative equipment, impressive editing systems, and promising content curation platforms. But the most exciting learning came from the lively discussions during the sessions.

The most thought-provoking session for me was the AI & Immersive Entertainment discussion moderated by HP Global Head of VR, Joanna Popper..


One fascinating top arose around the integration of Virtual Beings and Digital Humans; two terms that are interchangeable these days. For instance, what would Alexa look like as a Virtual Being? How Would Google Home appear as a Digital Human? Where would our own bias come to play when creating these Virtual Beings? Do people want a Virtual Being that mimics our ethnicity and culture or would they want something entirely different? Researches are working to answer these and many more question just like them.

Where does AI fit into this new landscape? What would happen if there are hundreds of Virtual Begins interacting with you in the real world driven by AI in the physical world? Some people might find this new tech frightening; others will seize the opportunity to be a part of this exciting time.

As a storyteller, I want to know where writers and producers fit in? Where does AI fit in when programming a TV show, web series or film? Can AI speed up the narrative or will it complicate things? According to Armando Kirwin, Co-founder of Artie, a technology company dedicated to enabling a new form of computer interaction powered by hyper-engaging AI characters, a computer can generate a story. AI can enhance speech. But, a human has to come through and curate the content.He tweeted,

“Immersive characters will outnumber humans 100x in the near future. Your physical reality will be filled with AI holograms, living toys, virtual teachers, proxies, and familiars. Every fictional character you ever loved will be walking around IRL with you.”

Where does that leave the content creators?

During the session, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, a Producer at Butcher Bird Studios, shared, “The only thing you can do as a writer is tell a story that’s interesting to you.” But Diaz-Przybyl was optimistic about the future adding,

“There is an opportunity for more voices to be heard. AI won’t be truly generative, but it will allow for more diverse to be told.”

Kane Lee of Baobab Studios shared interesting data around VR and character development in immersive storytelling. Do the characters have to look believable or can they be more abstract?

“VR in animation has less to do with how the characters look and more with how the characters interact with you,” said Lee.

In other words, the characters don’t have to look human; they have to play on your human emotions and act in a way that is immersive, inclusive and interesting. This concept is an interesting note for writers and producers in this new tech..

As a producer, AI and VR offer many new and exciting opportunities for storytelling. I’m not sure where all of this will lead me, but I’m excited about the journey. How are you or your company using or planning to use AI and VR to tell your story?


Preparing Young Leaders: Workshops on Leadership Development and Public Speaking

During my Young Leadership and Public Speaking workshop as part of the Legacy International Professional Fellows Outbound Cultural Exchange Program to Algeria, I worked with a group of 18 young adults on leadership development, communications styles, and public speaking skills. It was an interactive, all-day workshop with hands-on learning – something that is rare in Algerian cultural. Algerian students are accustomed to the lecture teaching format of learning where there is little participation. However, these young leaders were eager to learn and participate in the workshop to gain valuable, practical skills in their efforts to become better leaders in a civil society.

The participants took part in team-building activities and group assignments that often pushed them outside of their comfort zone. They challenged their ideas about leadership and how best to express those ideas.

For their final activity, each group had to come up with a project or association that would help their Algerian civil society. The goal was to work together as a team, display varying leadership styles and then each one of them had to speak about at least one aspect of the project.

The first group had three people who started the day by saying they were too shy to speak in public. One participant was so shy she was in tears when given the assignment. But we repeated our mantra for the day – “I am fearless. I am honest. I am creative” – and with that in mind, the group went through various leadership development and public speaking exercises. The videos below are the result of two of the group’s work from our day together.

Group number one showed the most improvement over the course of the day.


Group number two showed the most confidence and creativity.


I am proud of all the participants. Many walked in the door on their day off as shy leaders who and lacked confidence. They walked out accomplished leaders ready to take on their community and contribute in a major way to their civil society. This is the kind of cultural exchange Legacy International is known for. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute in my own small way.

On a side note, the workshop was such a success the group wanted more. We talked abut ways we could all stay in touch. The young leaders decided they would use social media to continue to engage and connect. They have committed to setting up a Facebook Group and Google Hangout where we can continue to work together. I’ve given each of them “homework” that they must complete by the end of next month. They each have to book one speaking engagement at a local association or club and invite someone else to come speak at their association or club. Becuase public speaking opportunities are so rare, I’ve challenged these young leaders to not wait for the opportunity to present itself but to create the opportunities where they can speak. To become a good public speaker, you must speak publically. I can’t wait to see what this group of young leaders come up with.

Special thanks to Legacy International and their sponsor, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the opportunity to share my social engagement best practices, training and knowledge with the Algerian Pro Fellows. Let’s keep the conversation going!

UPDATE! I recently heard from two of my young leaders. Dallel GUIR wrote, “Thank you for that day it was amazing.” Dallel wrote. 

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 5.25.46 PM.png
She followed it up with these hashtags, #Fearless #Creative #Dreamer Those are her hashtags, not mine. However, that was our mantras for the day so I co-sign.

Then I got an email from one of the participants. Excuse the typos and broken English. Instead, focus on the sentiment. It took a lot to email me this. I’m so very proud.

“Good morning, So i’m one of the lucky persons to meet you and to be a mumber in «Youth Leadership and Public SpeakinAlgeria» to be your student for a day.
I was shy and couldn’t express my feeling, from that day i started to think differently i really want to change to be confident optimistic and crazy in the same time i want to do new things and things which were hard for me.
Something great and special happened to me today and i want to share it with you,
Before i meet you i had to do a homework and send it to my teacher,but because i was a kind of lazy person i left it that because i was negative i was just telling my self that i can’t do it i can’t understand this module but after the training when i arrived home i was thinking that i have to start now i have to do something and i started this homework and in the same day i sent it to my teacher it was 11pm.
I was happy.then 3 days after he sent me a mail and told me«congratulations good job»
Today, we had a corse with him and after a GOOD MORNING he said who is (amrouni amina) then i sad it is me he sad reallly i was glad to see your unswers it was a pleasure for me to read it, he said that i was the only one from 7 persons who did the right job and said that he will give me a complet mark even if i don’t work well.
I know it is just a simple thing or maybe nothing but trust me i’m glad and happy because this special module is my only key of success in the situation in where i am.
To conlude,sorrrry for wasting your time by writing a lot but i just wanted to let you know how much you helped me and thank you soooo much ,
I hope i will recive something from you and everything new which can happen to me i will tell you about it because I AM FEARLESS,CREATIVE AND HONEST.”

That was our mantra for the day… I AM Fearless, Creative and Honest. These young people… WHEW! They blow me away. They opened up and let me pour into them and then they gave the joy right back to me. I’m going to get a tissue now. There’s some sort of water coming from my eyes.

#SocialEntrepreneur #LegacyIntl #ProFellows #LegacyInAlgeria

Introducing #BlackSTEMLikeMe: Reflection of Black Excellence. An Exciting New Campaign from NSBE

Have you heard all the buzz about the movie “Hidden Figures” that hit theaters nationwide on Jan. 6? The movie tells the story of how three African-American Women — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — contributed vital math, engineering and computer science work to the early missions of the U.S. space program. “Hidden Figures” (which is up for several awards and was No. 1 at the box office during its first two weekends) is bringing a major focus to the often overlooked contributions of the black STEM community.

Like the “Hidden Figures” movie, NSBE, in partnership with Air Force STEM, is also bringing a major focus to African Americans in science, technology, engineering and math with our new #BlackSTEMLikeMe (#BSLM) campaign. This multimedia campaign will:

  • Encourage black men and women in STEM to share their stories and passions
  • Bring visibility to the important work they are doing
  • Show black boys and girls that a future in STEM is an incredible—and attainable—career path
  • Encourage black students and professionals to consider NSBE for additional support as they pursue their STEM goals
  • Celebrate our unique, wonderful and life-changing community—past and present!

We have great things planned for #BSLM…

Including events during Black History Month and Engineers Week in February, and we are confident it will help us reach our “Be 1 of 10,000” Campaign goal to graduate 10,000 African-American engineers annually, with bachelor’s degrees, by 2025.

We’re so excited about this new campaign and are proud to take a big step toward ensuring that the Katherine’s, Dorothy’s and Mary’s of the future get their due well before they’re overdue!

How Can You Be Part of #BlackSTEMLikeME?

  • Share STEM stories on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or via the website using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag. The best stories will be entered in our national social media webisode series. More on our webisodes to come!
  • Tweet your STEM story using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag. Don’t forget to use visuals!
  • Post your STEM story to your Facebook page, tag the NSBE Facebook page using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag
  • Post your STEM photo or video to your Instagram account, tag @NSBE and use the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag
  • Email your story and video for blog posts to
  • Or, contact me directly with ways you can get involved.

Look for your post that may be featured here.

Learn more about the #BlackSTEMLikeMe campaign, including upcoming events and other ways to get involved, at

Ten Tips To Plan Your First Twitter Event

You probably already know how successful a Twitter event can be? If you’re new to Twitter events, this blog is for you! A Tweetchat also known as a Twitter Party is a live public Twitter event, centered around one particular  topic using a unique hashtag. This hashtag allows followers to isolate a conversation and participate in a narrow focused Twitter discussion.

Tweetchats are usually recurring and are often on specific topics that regularly connect like-minded individuals. 2

Twitter parties are great branding opportunities for both large and small businesses. The Twitter party can be used to promote a brand, meet customers, announce a service, launch a product, or simply get people talking about a particular idea or campaign. They are often hosted by a celebrity or a recognizable name or “brand ambassador.”



  1. Understand How it Works – Before creating your own Twitter event, spend time evaluating the digital landscape. Follow or participate in a few Tweetchats or Twitter Parties in your industry. Do a Google search to see who is already out there chatting about your topic and follow along at the designated times. 
  2. Pick A Topic – Seems simple, right? That’s good. You want it to be simple. Pick a topic that is broad enough to bring in a large audience, but also narrow focused enough to speak directly to your target audience.
  3. Pick A Date and Time –  There’s no hard and fast rule here. Some Tweetchats  and Twitter Parties happen during the day and others may take place late night. It really depends on what you are promoting and the time your audience is online. No matter the time of day, it is best to establish a regular schedule so people can follow along and you can build momentum over time. For some that may be once a month; for others, it may be every week. Choose a day, time, and frequency that works for you and your target audience. You can use these resources to check for possible scheduling conflicts and to plan your Tweetchat.
  4. Determine The Length – Again, no hard and fast rules here. The average length of a Twitter event is one hour. Some people like to let the event flow naturally but I suggest having a definitive set start and end time so you can manage expectations. Your guests will know exactly how much time to carve out for the event and your followers will be wesearchll aware of how much time they have to be engaged in the conversation.
  5. Pick A Unique Hashtag – Keep the hashtag simple and descriptive. Doing a travel event? You may want to use #TravelTipsChat. Promoting a new product? Try a #GizzmoChat hashtag. Keep in mind the 140-character limit on Twitter when choosing your hashtag. The hashtag should be short yet also provide some connection to the topic being discussed. Also be sure to check that the hashtag you picked is not already being used. You can search for the hashtag on Twitter here. Want to learn more about hashtags? Watch my Social Media Tips: Getting To Know The Twitter Hashtag video.
  6. Find A Moderator – The moderator can be a team member, community manager, or someone who is the most active participant in your online community. For the first Twitter event, it makes sense to use a moderator who is very familiar with your business or brand. It will be the moderator’s job to keep track of the questions asked and answered, monitor the time, and keep the Twitter conversation flowing. 
  7. Book Your Guest(s) – The number of guests you choose depends on the topic. Many Tweetchats do fine with one or two people. You may want multiple guests for your Twitter Party. But, if the name is a big enough draw, one person will do. In any event, your guest should be someone respected in their field and who ideally also has a significant Twitter following. This way the guest will be active in promoting the Twitter event, you will have exposure to their Twitter following and you can be assured that you will get interesting, engaging answers to your questions. Also, it’s a good idea to give your guests a list of questions in advance. Without some advance notice, it can tricky to compose responses quickly with the Twitter 140 character limitation.
  8. Promote The TweetChat – If you Tweet them, they will come. Develop an eye-catching graphic to promote your chat. It should include an interesting image with the date, time and hashtag of the Tweetchat. Leverage the channels you already have available — like your website, blog, email list, or other social networks — to promote your chat.
  9. Host Your Event – There are several platforms to host you Twitter event. You can use Hootsuite to follow the Twitter handle and hashtag. You can use to easily follow and participate in Tweetchat or Twitter Party. Or, you can simply use your computer to follow the hashtag and add another device such as a tablet or smartphone to follow along.
  10. Recap the Tweets – The Tweetchat and Twitter Party are live events. However, you want to be able to recap the tweets and hold on to the interaction for future reference. You may want to use Storify to capture and share the Tweets and then reshare the Storify story to your networks. Other platforms like Nurph will give you start to finish, nuts and bolts integration for your Tweetchat.

Need even more tips? Check out my Social Media Tips: Step Up Your Twitter Game with a Tweetchat video.

Have other tips for first time Twitter events? Share them in the comments.

Need help rolling in a Twitter event to your social media marketing strategy? Let me know. I’m here to help!


The disconnect between marketers and consumers on Twitter

Twitter and marketing: The real story (or so says a new study)

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Marketers could use a little help when it comes to connecting with consumers on Twitter, so says a new study by digital-marketing agency 360i. The study examined 1,800 tweets over a period of six months and found that “marketers use Twitter to broadcast, while consumers use it to converse.”

A sampling of the findings:

  • 43% of consumer tweets are conversations with other users, while only 16% of marketer tweets engage in dialogue with consumers. Add to that, only 1% of consumer tweets are dialogues with brands.
  • Only 12% of consumer tweets mention brands by name with Twitter, Apple, and Google ranking at the top of most mentioned brands.

Full story at USA Today.



The Huffington Post is profitable, although just barely.

According to Newsweek, in an engaging profile of Arianna Huffington, the popular and expanding Huffington Post generates little more than $1 per reader each year. So while it is clearly the winner among Internet media companies a new business model may be in order.

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Charles Ommanney / Getty Images for Newsweek

Arianna Huffington at her home in July.

If you had to declare a winner among Internet media companies today, the victor easily would be Arianna Huffington. Her site, The Huffington Post, attracted 24.3 million unique visitors last month, five times as much traffic as many new-media rivals, more than The Washington Post and USA Today, and nearly as many as The New York Times. HuffPo’s revenue this year will be about $30 -million—peanuts compared with the old-media dinosaurs, but way better than most digital competitors. And HuffPo has finally started to eke out a profit.

Those numbers, however, don’t fully convey the site’s place in this new-media world. What began five years ago as a spot for Huffington and her lefty celebrity friends to vent about the Bush administration has become one of the most important news sites on the Web, covering politics, sports, entertainment, business—along with plenty of tabloidy stuff to drive clicks, like photos of “Jennifer Aniston’s topless perfume ad.” HuffPo’s mission, Huffington says, is “to provide a platform for a really important national conversation.”