By: Troy Heatwole
In honor of Black History Month, we at PRSSA want to acknowledge and bring recognition to MDJ Professor, Gene Shelton, who has been an active participant in the advancement of black voices in the journalism and public relations fields.
Professor Shelton has enjoyed an expansive career working in journalism, media, and public relations. After graduating in 1972, he began his work as a reporter for The Cleveland Press.
He shifted in his career and moved to Los Angeles. He worked as a publicist and writer for different influential studios including Motown Records, Columbia Records, and Epic Records. His clients have included some of the greatest names in music: The Jacksons, Prince, Davis Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, Chaka Khan, and so many more. One of his most notable clients has been the reigning “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson. Shelton worked extensively with the musician’s album promotions of Off the Wall and Thriller.
When asked about what advice he would give younger students, he said "My advice to future practitioners is to be true to yourself. Work with a passionate drive to be the best at what you do. Any job that causes stress, is not the job for you. Always practice with a solid foundation of truth, integrity and empathy for others."
Professor Shelton has earned numerous awards throughout his career, such as The Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Leadership Award that “recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity,” as well as the Judge Harold K. Stubbs Humanitarian Award for Distinguished Service in Education. His advocacy for diversity has also earned him the Kent State University Trailblazer Award.
Black pioneers, like Professor Shelton, continue to open doors for people of color within the world of
communication and information, inspiring a new generation of storytellers.