Recently, Knotch has produced our ongoing series called Own Your Voice, which profiles and highlights the stories behind the storytellers at top brands. In honor of Black History Month, we’re launching a special edition of our series: Black Stories Matter. This will highlight Black storytellers and share the importance of their personal stories. Hear now from Amy Stroud, SVP of Content Marketing at Bank of America.
This story began when I stepped off of the track at UCLA and into a sports reporter position at the UCLA Daily Bruin. I became the first woman and first African American to be named sports editor. From there, I went on to get a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and worked as a journalist for 8 years before switching to crisis communications.
I wanted to be a voice, at scale, for people who were not being represented in the media. Funny enough, my father was the editor of the West Point Gazette as a young man, which I learned later.
After 7 years in TV news (I had started in print at the New York Daily News), I realized that my job was not about changing the world. It was about ratings, viewership and the bottom line. That led to a race to tell the most sensational stories “first,” which wasn’t for me. I then moved on to a position at an advertising and public relations agency in Philadelphia.
I’m going to name someone who was an inspiration to me as I was honing my skills as a journalist. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a journalist, publisher and civil rights activist at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th. She was one of the founders of the NAACP. Ida B. Wells wrote prolifically about race and gender injustices. In particular, she spearheaded an anti-lynching campaign--writing about the wrongful deaths for publications across the country. Wells-Barnett’s work inspired the topic of my master’s thesis, “The evolution of lynching.” Sadly, stories similar to Wells-Barnett’s, and those in my thesis, are still being told today.
I saw companies initiate and increase efforts to address racism both inside and outside of their walls. Marketers have been telling the stories of pain and progress in sometimes vivid ways - shedding much needed light on the topic, and sometimes inspiring change.
Over the years, I’ve seen companies’ commitments to racial equity and justice rise to the surface only to fade away - while the injustices continue. It is crucial not to let up. Working toward racial justice should always be an important component of the business plan. Not just because equality is a basic human right, but because it makes business sense in an increasingly diverse America.
There are three important elements that will allow companies to further amplify Black stories successfully:
I still love what Nike is doing!
We will continue to tell stories of advancing racial equality and economic opportunity through the voices of the people and communities we serve.
Amy Stroud is a marketing and communications professional responsible for content strategy, diversity & inclusion storytelling and operations for Bank of America’s Content Marketing Center of Excellence. Amy joined the Bank in 2006, to help build a content marketing group for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
Amy began her career as a journalist, working for the New York Daily News; NBC News; KCOP-TV, Los Angeles; and KYW-TV, Philadelphia. She made the switch to crisis communications and then public relations, before moving into content marketing.
Amy has an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).