Photo by Monica Morgan
Real Times Media has relaunched its cultural marketing company, formerly known as RTM360°, as Pitch Black. Under the new name, the company will continue to help clients connect with Black audiences through a mix of culturally relevant brand communication & outreach initiatives. It currently supports a portfolio of 15-plus clients nationwide.
“As RTM360 we have been able to do some great work on behalf of amazing clients around the country. But it felt like with the watershed times of the past few years, that branding no longer accurately reflected the heart of who we are as an organization,” says Tanisha Leonard, president of Pitch Black. “Not that we’ve ever been anything but unapologetically Black, I feel the time is now for us to double down on that. I want our brand to reflect the soulful flare of the communities we serve, that savoir faire, the grit and resiliency of ‘you can’t outdo Black people’ energy. It’s critical that when we walk into a room, our customers know this…and that they can rely on our sensibilities when connecting with Black audiences.”
Leonard, a 20-year marketing and communications professional and a key executive of Pitch Black parent company Real Times Media, has led the organization since its inception in 2018. She is joined in this effort by cultural marketing veteran Eric Roberts who serves as the company’s executive vice president and brings a wealth of experience, having led multicultural efforts for national brands such as McDonald’s, Amtrak, and Hartford Financial Services Group.
“Black people are not dark-skinned white people” is a constant refrain that Roberts has borrowed from Tom Burrell, acknowledged as the father of Black advertising. Roberts explains, “The point is that it isn’t language that distinguishes connectivity with Blacks, but the ability to understand and acknowledge the Black experience and cultural nuances that authentically resonate. Black Americans have considerable pride in being Americans. At Pitch Black, we are protective of cultural heritage and recognize the importance of sustaining traditions and symbols that strengthen the community.”
Echoing Leonard’s sentiment on why it was time for the company to evolve, Real Times Media CEO Hiram E. Jackson said, “The heightened sensitivity for social justice and equity resulting from the 2020 tragedies of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor renewed focus for companies around effective communications for Black communities. “The unfortunate by-product of this is that now everyone claims to be an expert on connecting with Black people. That’s not what you get with Pitch Black. Its legacy is rooted in a century-long history of being a part of the Black Press. We have been advocates of amplifying Black voices and impacting communities long before it was the comfortable thing to do. This is our superpower.”
“We’re not here to simply get our clients “invited to the cookout,” Leonard goes on to say. “Our mission is to create authentic engagements and platforms mutually beneficial to brands and the communities they are looking to connect. Nothing we do is transactional. Our focus is on crafting communications that demonstrably build impact and brand durability for our clients among Black communities.”
She further notes that her team prides itself on being intentional about the language of Black Community versus Black Communities.
“Black people are not a monolith. Yes, there is an underpinning of collective culture. But messaging that not only resonates but activates goes beyond that surface. Our strategies fiercely represent the culture and strike the delicate balance between the emotional & rational, but we aim to find the nuance, that “one thing” that motivates an audience,” says Leonard.
A Moment in Time
Much of the work done at Pitch Black is rooted in storytelling, even down to why September 13 was selected as a launch date. It is a nod to the Gloucester County Conspiracy of 1663. September 13, 1663, is often noted as the first recording of a planned slave insurrection in the country. While the planned uprising was thwarted, Pitch Black pays homage to the date in reflection of its mission to ensure and maintain the integrity of its work. To learn more about the company, visit www.hellopitchblack.com.