Abdullah is currently PR Officer at the British Judo Association (BJA). He has previously worked in the charity and youth sports sector at the London Youth Games and London Youth.
In his current role he leads on media and press relations for the BJA as well as working across a number of other PR/comms functions including event communications, social and digital media and marketing.
Abdullah has worked with a number of major broadcasters and media outlets in his career to date including the BBC, CNN, Sky Sports and Channel 4. He has also worked at major events including the 2013 London Marathon, 2017 World Judo Championships and 2018 Paris Grand Slam.
He has also worked with a number of Olympic and Paralympic medallists including Mo Farah, Christine Ohuruogu, David Weir and Sally Conway.
Abdullah was born and brought up in Scotland and went to university in Dundee where he studied History. Away from work Abdullah is a huge sports fan, in particular of rugby, cricket and tennis. He likes a good book, whether that’s something about Scottish history or a new Star Wars novel.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Sports nut, Scottish, bit geeky
How did you get into PR/comms?
I’ve always had an interest in sports media and I did quite a bit of work experience at newspapers in Scotland and England while I was at university. After leaving university it was a six-month internship at London Youth Games at the start of 2013 that saw me move into more of a PR/Comms role.
I got my first full-time job in PR/Comms off the back of that and I’ve not really looked back since.
What do you love about your job?
I love working on events, both domestic and international. Especially in my current role as we’ll often have a very small onsite PR/Comms team. So, while you all have a specific role on the day, you’ll still have to be flexible and adapt to what’s going on throughout the event.
What are you most proud of?
There’s a few things but I think it’s the fact that we’ve managed to get TV coverage for judo with all of the major broadcasters in the UK over the last couple of years despite being a pretty small sport.
Also, that we’ve managed to establish a good relationship and reputation with a number of broadcasters and journalists as a sport that’s good to work with.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Working for a fairly niche sport brings its own challenges in terms of getting coverage externally. I’m quite competitive (to say the least) so when I see other Olympic and Paralympic sports getting coverage it does drive me to push a bit harder.
However, there is that realisation that you can do everything right and work your backside off but sometimes the coverage doesn’t come. That’s been a difficult one to come to terms with.
Who are your favourite people in PR/Comms and why?
Been lucky that most of my managers have been great to work with and there’s a lot of fantastic PR/Comms people working in Olympic and Paralympic sport in the UK.
However, from a personal perspective it’s Chris Broadbent, CEO at South West Youth Games.
He gave me my break in PR/Comms at the London Youth Games and he’s somebody I can always turn to for advice. I joke that he’s my mentor but he’s also a good mate.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter for its ability to connect and engage with a weird and wonderful range of people.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Owen Slot at The Times. Always very balanced and fair. Doesn’t rely on big or “controversial” statements to get his point across which I like.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
In PR/Comms the last thing you want to do is get stuck doing something because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”
You’re never going to get everything right and mistakes will happen. If and when they do, hold your hand up, apologise and learn from it.
Your favourite PR campaign/stunt of 2018 so far?
Big fan of Manchester City’s ‘Same City | Same Passion’ campaign and the follow-up which came out in March: #SameGoals
Some professional clubs and teams in the UK are already doing something similar in marketing both the men’s and women’s team together while retaining their own unique identities. I think this will increasingly become the norm and rightly so.
Why did you apply for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme?
It’s a tough sector and job market right now and the opportunity to learn from someone who has been there and done it was too good to pass up.
And yeah…I was pretty happy to get a place! Surprised as you never think you’re going to be chosen especially with so many talented and driven people applying.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Haha, nice easy question to end on!
I like to believe in meritocracy and would like to think that if you’re good enough, you’ll get there. However, that’s not the reality of the world and there are barriers.
So potentially something akin to “Rooney Rule” could be brought in. It does not mean that organisations have to hire someone from a BME background but by giving an interview they are at least getting their foot in the door to some extent.
And of course, visibility. If you don’t see it, how can you think it is part of the norm and something that you can aspire to be?
Abdullah is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. He will be mentored by Ikenna Lewis-Miller, Account Director, Burson-Marsteller.