Myriam has 13 years of well-rounded, international experience in transforming communications and helping brands engage and influence people.
Her achievements include launching Meta’s first-ever, global thought leadership programme on digital transformation aimed at governments, training the World Bank Group on digital marketing, supporting HSBC on their Brexit and Northern Powerhouse communications, and launching Tivoli Boutique Hotels in Qatar. In addition, she’s been a strategic communications advisor to senior leadership at organisations such as Meta, Ketchum, Adidas, Qatar Olympic Committee and Wakelet, amongst others.
Myriam is a global citizen with a passion for creating meaningful communications to simplify complex ideas, solve real-world problems, promote understanding and build relationships.
Her leadership superpower is empathy – for her colleagues, her clients and her professional community.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
First published at 6.
How did you get into PR/communications?
I always had a constant desire to express myself and my ideas. As a child, I did this through writing, art, and dance. Once I realised I didn’t have a single dancing bone, I stuck to writing and art. While my relationship with painting was (and continues to be) temperamental, I absolutely adored writing, which led me to pursue a degree in Professional Writing and English Literature.
During my final year of university, I did a summer internship in the Corporate Communications team at PNC Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the US. I loved every bit of it – from writing features to interacting with media and being part of a huge post-merger rebrand campaign.
Following the internship, I applied to entry-level roles at a number of organisations, including a global communications agency called Hill+Knowlton (now H+K Strategies). After not hearing back from a single one of them, I continued to hunt for my big communications opportunity, while freelancing as a journalist, writing stories centred on women’s health and financial empowerment in the Middle East. Out of the blue, I received a called from H+K’s hiring team in Doha, Qatar, where two wonderful people called Jamie Morse and Nader Abou-Guendia took a chance on me, and an incredible leader called Dalia Attar trained the hell out of me, becoming one of my closest friends and mentors. The rest is history.
What do you love about your job?
My brain loves problem-solving and breaking down complex ideas in a systematic way. Being at the intersection of tech and communications allows me to do this every single day. I love using the power of storytelling to communicate the intricacies of present and emerging technology in accessible and creative ways.
I also love planning campaigns that influence people and shift thinking. Nothing makes me happier than seeing that a campaign has achieved its objectives and had a positive impact on stakeholders.
Finally, my job requires me to listen, and by doing that, I learn a lot about and from others, which informs my thought process and decision-making. I really enjoy that learning process and the growth that comes from it.
What are you most proud of?
My grit. It often surprises me too.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Despite being a top performer and having some incredible advocates within the organisation, my role as a government marketing lead at Meta was affected by the company’s mass layoffs earlier this year. Having never experienced redundancy before, I did initially find it hard to stomach, thinking about the amount of blood, sweat and tears that had gone into reaching – and excelling – at that stage of my career.
The hardest lesson I learned here was that irrespective of how hard you work or how much value your work drives, sometimes, external factors can impact your life in unimaginable ways. The reality is that business decisions like this one are neither personal nor unusual. The experience taught me to be resilient and be prepared to adapt emotionally, and skills-wise, to unexpected change.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Genie Sugene Gan is a global government affairs expert I really admire. Genie is the Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy (APAC, Middle East and Africa) at Kaspersky. I have been following Genie’s career for a while and think she’s an absolute powerhouse in the tech world and beyond. She is incredibly passionate about cybersecurity and does a brilliant job of telling Kaspersky’s story to an international audience. More importantly, she is extremely humble and a joy to speak to!
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
Stakeholder management is key, and so underrated! Effective communications is just as much about understanding your stakeholders’ priorities and the ecosystems they operate in, as it is about being a great writer or media whisperer. In fact, the clarity I get from truly knowing my stakeholders and strengthening relationships with them makes the rest of my job heaps easier.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Lately, I’d have to say LinkedIn. I specifically like easily tuning into live panels (e.g. WHO livestreams or content from UNGA more recently) and I feel like the quality of conversations on-platform has improved. There are less bots and spammy accounts too. Also, the last 3 years have been really difficult for most professionals. The economic impact of the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and mass layoffs across a number of industries have directly and drastically impacted LinkedIn’s main audience – professionals across levels. In response, the platform has consistently evolved and introduced new products and features to support the new normal which includes everything from virtual working to a spike in job seekers (e.g. instant meetings, the Open to Work badge for anyone who wishes to use it, interview guidance, etc.)
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I am a podcast junkie, but one I listen to almost every day is The Rest is History, hosted by historians Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland, who are just brilliant and have a great sense of humour. I also love the variety of topics they cover, from the history of spies to female emperors. They recently did a fantastic episode on the Taj Mahal and the political symbolism around this iconic mausoleum in present-day India.
Whether you’re a history buff or not, I’m sure you’ll find at least one topic that will pique your interest (there is a short series on Harry Potter too!)
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Christiane Amanpour is my all-time favourite journalist. She’s absolutely fearless, and to this day, continues to channel her passion for truthful journalism by forcing the world to think about complex issues and questioning things that many assume to be the norm.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Time spent on one thing, is time not spent on something else. I apply this to my personal and professional life to ensure I’m choosing and prioritising wisely, to do more of what is actually important.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2023 so far?
Yay: Alzheimer UK’s recent campaign, “Change the ending” got me feeling EVERYTHING. I love how simply, yet powerfully and creatively, they’ve managed to convey the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, but also relationships. Also, I found it interesting that this campaign is part of the charity’s brand revamp to be more direct and “unapologetic” when talking about the consequences of the disease, so it is very much rooted in how their audience feels about action, vs just awareness. I believe it’s campaigns like this one that show how PR, in its purest form, is the most incredible tool in an organisation’s arsenal to influence its most critical stakeholders.
Bond Street is now Burberry Street. Seriously Fashion Week? I was quite disappointed in this blatant lift of Barbican station being briefly renamed “Barbiecan” as part of Barbie’s (way more holistic and thought through, at least on the channel marketing front) promotional campaign. Aside from the confusion a whole name change would cause to a visitor, or more problematically, a vulnerable commuter, I just felt it was lazy and unoriginal. This is the kind of “buzzy” PR that may help a brand name trend or drive search spikes but fail to have any kind of real impact.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
We need to double down on the brilliant basics: cultural inclusion and professional opportunity. A significant, and often systematic, lack of both is the root cause of the sector’s diversity problem. You may see a leader speak externally about diversity being their biggest priority, but inclusion and opportunity happen on a more micro-level. They are wholly dependent on internal attitudes and behaviours, which often go unchecked. From being -1/10 on diversity, companies suddenly try to go to 11/10. That can’t be genuine or sustainable. Therefore, I’d love for PR leaders to take a step back, try to understand what’s really going on in their teams and then implement an actionable and measurable plan to fix it. Also, we don’t have to do this alone. Today, there are some excellent resources out there to help support this journey.
I would also encourage industry bodies to create a robust framework for specifically tracking genuine inclusion and opportunity, as well as establishing accountability.
Myriam was awarded a place on The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros. She is part of the class of 2024.