Anaïs is an Account Director and Deputy Head of Mobile & Telecoms at CCgroup. Over the last six years, she has specialised in representing companies across the global mobile and telecommunications industries. In her current role, Anaïs runs strategic PR programs for a variety of different companies, including telecoms operators and telecoms vendors. Outside of work, Anaïs provides pro-bono PR services to Black-owned businesses, most of which is B2C, meaning she gets to try her hand at something different from her day-to-day. This year, Anaïs was named on PR Week’s 30 Under 30 list, and shortlisted for a PRCA Dare Award ‘Rising Star of the Year’ Award, PR Week ‘Young Game Changer of the Year’ Award, and PR Moment ‘Young Professional of the Year’ Award.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
GIF-loving, French South Londoner
How did you get into PR/communications?
By accident, really. I’ve always loved writing and wanted to pursue a career where I could write every day. I initially thought I would become a journalist, but after a PR internship at TransferWise, I decided PR and comms was for me. After my internship ended, I interviewed for CCgroup and somehow convinced them to take a chance on me. After almost six years, I’m still here, so I must be doing something right.
What do you love about your job?
I work in quite a niche space of PR, there aren’t many of us in B2B telecoms PR, and that’s part of what makes it special. It’s great to work with companies that are creating the technologies that will shape how we will communicate with our friends, families, colleagues etc in the future. Being able to understand how these technologies work up close, to really get into the nitty gritty, is what excites me most. Since working at CCgroup, I’ve really embraced my inner nerd, a streak I probably get from my dad who’s a software developer by trade, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than learning about a new software, or technology, or innovation that will impact our lives. But you know what I don’t love about my job? Having to tell people outside of work that 5G won’t kill them… And I promise you, Bill Gates is not listening to your conversations.
What are you most proud of?
I’m not very good at celebrating my achievements or being proud of myself but if I think about it, I’m most proud of the past 18 months. I’m not alone in saying that COVID-19 really threw a spanner in, well just about everything, and in both my personal and professional life, some moments were extremely tough to navigate. But despite it all, I’ve come out with a listing on the PR Week 30 under 30, three award shortlistings, and a spot on the Xec. For a challenging 18 months, that’s not too bad, is it?
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Exercising patience. I’m the most impatient person I’ve met, and I’m the most impulsive, too. Keeping cool, calm and collected has sometimes been tough, especially when I’ve been confronted with complex client challenges, or difficult clients or colleagues who I’m not necessarily seeing eye to eye with. But luckily, I’ve had the right people around me, both at work and outside of work, who have guided me and been there to give me that all important look that tells me: “hun, slow down”.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
This was a tough question but my favourite person in PR has to be my colleague Chloe Pope. We started at CCgroup at around the same time and we’ve become inseparable. She’s not my favourite because she’s my best friend, but because she’s taught me so much over the years. She has a couple more years’ PR experience than me, so her knowledge and wisdom have been invaluable. She keeps me calm in difficult situations, reassures me, she’s my soundboard, and always, always tells me not to stress (even though I will always, always stress).
Since last Summer, Chloe and I have been offering pro-bono PR services to Black-owned businesses in the UK and the US, and while it goes without saying that I couldn’t have done it without her, her passion, commitment, confidence and PR prowess has seen us help over 50 companies, and all the skills and qualities I lack, she has. She’s the Ying to my Yang.
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
Storytelling. Half the battle in PR is about enchanting the right audience with the right story, and to do that you need to use one of the most powerful tools of all: words.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter, without a doubt. It’s the only social platform I have (LinkedIn doesn’t count…) and it never fails to amaze me how creative people can be on Twitter. There are so many different Twitter worlds, and each have their different sub-languages, humours, memes and GIFs. It’s also one of the only platforms where virality really means something and where you see the power in numbers. It of course has its downsides—like most social platforms—but overall, it’s one that brings me laughter and joy.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I don’t really listen to many podcasts but one I’ve listened to consistently for several years is The Receipts—if you know, you know. Three ladies who offer their take on navigating the obstacles that life throws at you. It makes me laugh, think, and reflect on my own life choices, and importantly reminds me—in the infamous words of Tolani Shoneye: “I can’t come and die”.
I also have to mention a podcast called Bubble & Squeak hosted by two friends of mine. Listening to their voices just fills me with joy, makes me feel close to them when I haven’t seen them in a while, and it makes me so happy to know their humour and wit is finally being shared with the world.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
There are quite a few that I’d choose but one who stands out is Sarah Manavis at the New Statesman. She always writes really interesting pieces on all aspects of life—everything from mental health to social media trends and millennial culture. She brings a fresh and insightful perspective, marrying her own experiences with outside sources, that always leave me reflecting about the topic in question. She’s also really entertaining on Twitter and has the cutest dog (I don’t stalk her, I promise… she just posts about her dog…)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Probably that it’s ok to ask for help. I’m very self-sufficient and I’m very happy to do things by myself, but that can be to my detriment where I overwork myself. My boss has told me many times “please ask for help”, and I’m really trying to listen to that and to actually do it. Asking for help doesn’t make me inadequate, and doesn’t mean I can’t do my job. It just means that like every other human, I can’t do everything alone.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2021 so far?
The best PR campaign of 2021 for me was the Weetabix #HaveYouHadYourWeetabix social campaign run by Frank Comms agency back in February 2021. It used the very best of Twitter humour, social commentary, and brought in so many other brands to go viral and it was such a success. It was a simple yet effective campaign and it just goes to show, sometimes you don’t need a wild, creative idea to have the best campaign—you just need something that will have Twitter users like me scrolling and reaching for the popcorn.
The worst PR campaign… can I say the UK government?! I recently had a call with someone in Germany and it started with them laughing at the state of UK politics—we really are Europe’s laughing stock. The way they’ve handled the pandemic and the many “crises” that have come to light in recent months has been an absolute joke. From Priti Patel and BoJo not condemning racist football fans booing players, and the PM and Rishi Sunak trying to avoid self-isolating despite being pinged by the NHS app, to Matt Hancock getting caught cheating and finally being forced to step down from… well, doing not very much for the last 18 months. Honestly, this is the government that continues to give us nothing but PR disasters.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
There’s a lot that can be said here but first, the PR industry needs to realise that the diversity “issue” doesn’t solve itself overnight. Sometimes it seems as though a lot of organisations implement these initiatives that introduce tick-box exercises that aim to “solve” diversity, like it’s a one and done thing. The quicker the industry realises it’s not that, the better off we’ll all be, and the more actual, tangible change we’ll start to see.
Second, more Black and brown faces in the boardroom please! How many times do you see companies claiming to be diverse and then you look at their exec teams and everyone is white? It’s exhausting, and you know what, it’s getting boring at this point. It’s great to hire diverse talent, but make sure you provide the right tools that see that young talent promoted into senior roles, and then move into board roles. We need representation at every level.