PRactical Dialogues: Black History Month Talk with Abby “HONDO” Alem

We sat down with Abby “HONDO” Alem, the Founder of AMBESA, a full service creative agency for a #BlackHistoryMonth conversation. HONDO reflected on how leaving Corporate America allowed him to kickstart his entrepreneurial journey which resulted in the founding of his creative agency, the importance of diversity and representation within the PR field and shared his thoughts on how to create more opportunities and representation for Black professionals in our predominantly white industry. 

How did you get started in the field of public relations? 

I have a diverse background working in a variety of functions for some of the largest global brands in the world for a little over 14 years. PR has always been a function of the brand marketing campaigns I’ve worked on throughout my career. From press releases and write ups to events, finding creative ways to earn credibility with consumers is a center of focus for me and my team. Our ambition is to connect and amplify our brand partners with the culture that best flows and authentically aligns with the right consumer groups and communities. 

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience in your career that has shaped your journey in the PR industry?

I exited Corporate America in April 2022 to escape a toxic culture that was on the verge of consuming and transforming who I am and how I show up in the world, professionally and personally. The role I had at the time was a dream opportunity in a city where I wanted to call home for the rest of my life. For the remainder of the year, my soul was unsettled for a multitude of reasons: leaving a dream job, the dire need for improved leadership capabilities, and lack of positive cohesive energy in Corporate organization cultures. I felt I was being called to make an impact on Culture through the creative arts. This is where I decided I needed to pursue a new age model of a career in public relations that put community, arts, and people first. Shortly after, I formally birthed my entrepreneurship journey and started a company by the name of AMBESA, a full service creative agency, at the intersection of brands and creators fueling the next generation of growth.

In what ways do you believe diversity and representation are important within the PR field?

Representation is everything. We learn lessons and create marks of identification for ourselves through storytelling. It’s critical to have diversity in representation because that’s exactly what our world is, DIVERSE. I believe storytelling, when executed with a quality craftsperson’s approach, is one of the most powerful tools we have in the industry to influence and change the minds and viewpoints of our world today. Especially in our modern day world where “Content is King/Queen,” consumers more than ever are paying close attention to the stories we create.

What steps do you believe are crucial for creating more opportunities and representation for Black professionals in the field?

There are many approaches to creating opportunities and representation for Black professionals in PR. I believe the first step to creating any solution is recognizing and having a better understanding of the problem, including a general competence and acceptance of the root cause of this issue. I don’t believe enough organizations do the work of discovery and analysis, which leads to sub-par solutions that lead to temporary fixes instead of sustainable growth. We need more people with influential power engaged in the brilliant value and contributions that Black professionals bring to the table. With the shift in society’s population becoming more and more diverse, it’s critical to the future success of any business, especially the PR industry.

How do you approach building and maintaining relationships with media contacts and key stakeholders?

Making friends is my business. Relationships are what make the world go round. I am intentional, thoughtful, and methodical in my approach of building and maintaining relationships. The little things matter when you are building with community. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an advocate for the Black community?

Be intentional, educated, and authentic in your approach. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in PR?

The most successful people in this world are the most resourceful. Procure your resources by seeding, nurturing, and harvesting quality relationships. 

What communications trend are you keeping an eye on in 2024?

I have my eye on a few trends in 2024:

The evolution of omnichannel communications as retail media becomes more prevalent for retailers throughout the world.
The use case application of artificial intelligence and consumer adoption. 
Digital optimization of channels of communication leading to better efficiencies. We live in a world where people are able to connect and engage through so many different mediums. I’m keeping a particularly close eye on Gen Z and what communication channels they are adopting for their methods of delivery.
The solidification of influencer marketing being a more effective spend than traditional advertising through linear channels.

Connect with HONDO


PRSA SD/IC will be spotlighting community and chapter members on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in being spotlighted or know someone who would be a perfect candidate to spotlight, please reach out to the Communications Committee lead, Jerr Davis at jerralyn [dot] davis [at] berlinrosen [dot] com. 

In your email, please include your preferred first and last name, pronouns, job title, place of work, a link to your LinkedIn profile and 1-to-2 sentences on why you would be a good fit.

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