Speaking To Christopher Cathcart, A Media Entertainment And PR Guru At The SU Los Angeles Center

Speaking To Christopher Cathcart, A Media Entertainment And PR Guru At The SU Los Angeles Center

Taking advantage of Newhouse guest speaker opportunities has provided me some of the most valuable insight I could ask for. Last semester, I was encouraged by Professor Michael Schoonmaker to attend the Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment presentation from the Public Relations Department. The event featured Christopher Cathcart, a well-known branding and public relations expert with more than 30 years of experience in his field, building a robust network of prestigious people and businesses.

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If there was one point Cathcart drove home eloquently, it was his advice on seeking out a mentor. Now more than ever, college students like myself need a mentor (or mentors!) to give them personal insight on any problem, industry, or opportunity. Although we have the internet at our fingertips, we have much to learn from those with experience.

“Without doubt the gravest mistake I made coming out of college (Howard University, ’86) was not connecting with a solid professional who was doing what I thought I wanted to do,” Cathcart told me in an online interview. “There is no substitute for getting some practical, real-life insights into the professional realm you are interested in. I could have saved a ton of time if I had sought appropriate guidance earlier in the process. I did finally get a mentor, but it was way late in the game.”

Right now, I consider Professor Sean Branagan my mentor at Newhouse. Even though he’s a phenomenal resource, time is fleeting, and I won’t be on campus for much longer. Cathcart’s advice struck a chord with me, as I need to secure a mentor in multimedia entrepreneurship.

I’ve certainly made great connections with a few people with career paths I would like to emulate, so perhaps I need to reach out to them as a mentee? As I’ve admitted here on Newhouse Insider previously, I have hard time asking for help. This is another hurdle I must overcome to set myself up for success with my news/educational startup Doodle the News (DtN). Hearing from people like Cathcart give me a great sense of direction. He even introduced me to the importance of catering to my target audience with DtN.

“My best piece of advice is know exactly who your audience is; learn as much about them as possible,” Cathcart noted. “Without question, every failed marketing venture I have been a part of can be tied directly to missing the mark on gauging who our audience was for the venture.”

“Do not become so enamored with your ‘product’ that you forget it’s meaningless unless you know who you are serving and if they need and/or want to take advantage of it,” continued Cathcart. “So ask questions, extend surveys, conduct focus groups, etc. to best arm yourself with as much info on your audience as possible.”

If it wasn’t for this anecdote, I would be in a completely different place with DtN today, as I’ve conducted plentiful surveys and am doing ongoing research this semester. I learned where my target audience (17-27 year olds) consumes most of their daily news, the time of day they consume it, and how much time they typically spend engaging with the news. These metrics will help me develop key performance indicators to critically evaluate what makes my multimedia startup sustainable.

Overall, I was very fortunate to catch Cathcart in the small window of time he was in Syracuse last October. He’s probably enjoying sweet Los Angeles weather right now, continuing to inspire students where he teaches regularly at California State University, Northridge. His 30+ years in media and entertainment PR have driven him on a path to wear many hats in his career, and it was a huge honor speaking with him one-on-one.


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Tobenna Attah
Transmedia Entrepreneur
Tobe V. Attah is a multimedia entrepreneur with a mission to innovate in today’s new media landscape while making a meaningful impact in the world. He founded Doodle the News in October 2017, a mutliplatform hub for people to have their voices heard and help them become more civic minded through bite-sized journalism.
He has been published across a wide variety of media outlets, including Sports Illustrated, the Cornell Daily Sun, SportTechie, Clutchpoints, Cavs Nation, the Cornell Chronicle, and many more.
Tobe has a plethora of hobbies, including writing, athletics, drawing, acting, and collaborating with others about ideas and startups working in the multimedia space.