BHM UK has not been my first stint at working in the public relations industry; my previous efforts were marked by this century’s largest pandemic accompanied by an incredible shift in the way we all work and live. Although I quickly adapted to these new circumstances and did well, my time there was unfortunately cut short due to my own personal health issues. Between my poor health and Covid-19 I felt trapped and frustrated, spending what little time I was not on medication and awake on writing fiction stories until the day Ayeni Adekunle sent an email to my mother.
I had heard of Ayeni before, I knew that he and my mother had worked on PR projects together in Africa and that she held him in high regards – beyond that I knew very little about him. My mother, knowing that Ayeni was opening BHM UK, helped me put myself forward as a candidate for his new London-based team and we began moving forward gradually as I got better. Over the next few months, I continued speaking with Ayeni and got to meet (virtually of course) Stephen Waddington and Enitan Kehinde.
I would like to say that the recruitment process went smoothly, but that would be a lie. However, despite stumbling and falling, Ayeni clearly saw something in me that I did not know was there and invited me to meet him in person in London. And so, on the 29th of August 2021, he and I sat down, offered me a beer, and we talked for a couple of hours about anything and everything that popped into our minds.
I remember vividly during that conversation the moment Ayeni said, “I can see that you’ve inherited Alison’s (my mum) potential for PR; it’s in your blood.” To be honest, I was rather chuffed.
My first day at BHM was a little over a month after my in person meeting with Ayeni. Mpine Mokitimi and I both started at BHM UK on the same day, and we were given a feel for BHM, the company’s history, leadership, and team as well as the type of clients we would be working with. I started reading everything Enitan shared with us, gobbling up as much information about BHM and the clients we would be working with as I could.
Since I have started, I genuinely feel like I am bringing something to the team, what I am doing is going to good use and at BHM I get to combine that with my intense appetite for learning.
For example, my first day’s task; I had to learn how to write an introductory letter to members of parliament while compiling a list of who amongst these members would be sympathetic to BHM UK’s mission to build bridges between Africa and the UK – I picked up more about the workings of British government just by discovering and reading Hansard for myself than I ever before.
In addition to drafting these letters, I have so far written up contact reports and content briefs for several of BHM’s clients. I had done contact reports before, but I am still a little rusty so with Enitan’s advice, I am getting better at completing them every time. One of the interesting things about BHM is how different its clients can be; one day I am in a meeting with a non-profit project management organisation, the next I am learning about how a company wants to produce medical oxygen for sub-Saharan Africa. This breadth of distinct types of clients keeps you on your toes; it means that even though you can use similar tactics across the client roll you have to shift your perception of the exact needs of the specific client you are working on – it’s a communications puzzle box.
The biggest project that I have been working on however is BHM’s engagement plan with the UK – I started by studying both what BHM had already been planning and Ayeni’s feedback on the initial plan. Since updating it with Ayeni’s feedback I have been researching the diverse ways to best bring BHM’s unique African angle to the forefront of PR discussions in the UK. My favorite amongst the ideas that we are currently working on is a monthly newsletter which I feel that, if we do it right, can have a positive impact in helping bridge Africa and the UK.
Going forward, one of the things I am most looking forward to is attending this year’s International Communications Consultancy Organisation Global Summit with the BHM UK team. It is going to be a great excuse to get to meet and connect with other professionals in the PR industry. The summit is also going to be another fantastic opportunity to listen and learn from some of the industry’s leaders.
I am also hoping that, as a team, we can also manage to see a bit more of each other outside of the work environment and get to know each other a little better.
On a more global note, I aim to use the opportunity that Ayeni and BHM UK have given me to develop my communications skillset and properly launch my own career in PR. I have already learned so much during these past two weeks and I plan to learn a whole lot more, both on the job and through BHM’s partnership with PRCA. I am grateful for the level of investment that BHM is prepared to put into its team in helping us upskill and learning from one of the highest quality platforms out there.
Overall, I am really excited to be a part of BHM’s UK team – working to build strong relationships between the UK and Africa, and helping to create opportunities for companies, organisations, and individuals on two continents. I am also looking forward to getting more involved with client work – I want to be able to tell their stories in an engaging manner and be a part of the greater vision of BHM in uniting the UK and Africa via public relations.