IMC Intuition

Thinking out loud about all things IMC

AMA, Day 3: Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Hip Hop Prez

with 2 comments

Walter Kimbrough energized and inspired the crowd this morning with humor and personality with his keynote on the brand re-vitalization at Philander-Smith University in Arkansas.  This historically black Methodist institution had fallen on hard times when they hired Dr. Kimbrough, a 37 year old son of a United Methodist preacher who quickly became known as the hip-hop president, earning national recognition as the man who successfully transformed an old underperforming brand into an energized institution emphasizing scholarship and excellence.

  • He reads Seth Godin every day; quotes from Purple Cow – wow
  • He is a fan of Marty Neumeier and The Brand Gap – omg
  • The guy totally gets both brand and communications – unbelievable
  • A college president who’s cool?  unheard of!

His purple cow idea?  He created a lecture series entitled, “Bless This Mic, the Hip Hop President’s Lecture Series” featuring both internationally known and controversial speakers.  This series, in turn, lifted Philander-Smith from a regional to a nationally recognized brand.  Twitter was the major force in getting word out to the celebrities’ millions of followers. They no longer had to pitch their stories to the media; media from USA Today to Ebony magazine started calling him.  The lecture series continues at

Needless to say, this national attention led to his being recruited as the new President of Dillard University, but his personal brand as the Hip-hop Prez lives on:

He blogs:

But more recently, he tweets @hiphopprez, with 5,544 followers and counting.

He used Twitter as an effective crisis communications tool during Katrina, because students wanted to hear the news directly from him, but more important, he wanted to keep the community updated personally.  When does that happen?  Bet the lawyers hated that …but what’s far more important is that his community appreciated the clear line of communication from the President to their lives, their concerns.

So is he the hip-hop president or the Twitter president?  He uses the platform flawlessly and is that remarkable brand Seth Godin encourages all of us to discover for ourselves, and the causes we care about. A new Dillard lecture series, with new branding, rolls out in April – looking forward to it.


Written by Beth Ryan

November 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
    My site covers a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an email.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way!

    gaming laptops under 500

    December 15, 2012 at 4:31 am

    • Thank you!I guess I need to stay on top of things, of course if it is a marketing or brand journalism topic. But I am not a commercial blogger, this is simply my own voice about one of my favorite topics.

      Beth Ryan

      December 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

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