Case Study

TD Jakes

ALRC sets the stage for the then-unknown Bishop T.D. Jakes to provide comfort and healing to a hurting nation through the national media.
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Challenge

ALRC was tasked with facilitating a strategic public relations and reputation management plan for Bishop T. D. Jakes, his ministry and products. The strategic plan was conceived to complement his personal 10-year plan communicated in 1997, which ends when Bishop Jakes will be approximately 50 years old.

When T. D. Jakes relocated his 20-year old ministry from Charleston, W.V. to Dallas, Texas in the summer of 1996, Bishop Jakes knew media needed to be an important extension of that ministry. A. Larry Ross Communications came on board in April of 1997, when the nine-month-old Dallas church had approximately 7,000 members, and Bishop Jakes was known primarily in Charismatic circles, among his African-American church community and in his hometown of Charleston, WV. His notoriety came through his books, including the blockbuster, “Woman Thou Art Loosed!” and his television appearances on TBN and BET.

At that time, Bishop Jakes had appeared once on the cover of Charisma magazine in late 1995, and in small sidebar stories in a number of local papers recapping speaking engagements from time-to-time.

Strategy

ALRC set several objectives for the PR campaign, including raising the awareness of T.D. Jakes Ministries to create a groundswell of awareness and support for Bishop Jakes and his ministry, locally, nationally and internationally; providing a national platform for Bishop Jakes; positioning Bishop Jakes as an advocate of the Christian faith; and defining Bishop Jakes’ influence.

The original goals for Bishop Jakes’ media and public relations campaign were met and surpassed.  Like priming a pump, a lot of initial educational lobbying efforts went into applying enough initial pressure to produce a stream of media opportunity.  However, once the pipeline was full and water spilled out, regular, consistent pressure kept the stream flowing.

ALRC simultaneously worked to strategically leverage Bishop Jakes’ media positioning on two fronts – religious and secular.  In 2000-2001 Bishop Jakes moved from taking on all comers, to a selective triage posture, depending on the Agency and his internal staff to screen requests for potential opportunities that would be worthy of his time and would further extend his influence. Reputation Management became the Agency’s primary objective, being sensitive to Bishop Jakes’ need to conserve energy for the calling God has placed on his life.

Public relations extended Bishop Jakes’ message beyond his existing and faithful constituency – to a larger group who may never darken the door of a church, or come to a conference, but who find him unexpectedly on the pages of a newspaper, through a television/radio show or magazine article, on the Web, in a motivational book or on the stage – addressing an issue in which they are interested.

Results

When the terrorists slammed into the World Trade Center on September 11, and a slew of hateful acts rocked the U.S. and the world, Bishop Jakes was already positioned on the current cover of Time Magazine that week, ready to step to the microphone with answers and comfort for a country in deep pain, whose citizens were feeling helpless and vulnerable, and were fearful for their lives and their families. As Americans grieved in the midst of the destruction, they tuned in to CNN and Fox News to find Bishop Jakes calmly reassuring them and leading them to God.  Nothing could more prominently underscore the value of public relations, than the platform it provided in the last quarter of 2001. Media of this intensity requires a great deal of energy, and Bishop Jakes met the challenge without batting an eye.