Chinedu Udezue has nearly 15 years of UK and international PR experience, representing several multi-national corporations, including Huawei, Canon, HP, Microsoft, SanDisk, ARM, and Google. He’s experienced at providing senior counsel to both corporate and B2B clients whilst delivering long term high ROI plans. Skilled at on-going crisis management and building corporate and vendor engagement, Chinedu also provides outstanding strategic and team building skills, including the development of global PR strategy and integration of multiple departments, partners and stakeholders.
This year, he was a key part of the team that won the Huawei EBG account for BCW across the UK and EMEA. Prior to his time at BCW, he helped win the Huawei global consumer business for Ogilvy and also directed the national media relations efforts for HP’s consumer business within the UK, as well as leading EMEA communications strategy for SanDisk across business and consumer.
In the past, Chi has also been responsible for running UK office of Taylor Startegy, a US-based communications firm, where his clients included Proctor & Gamble, Guinness, and Under Armour. His previous client experience also includes Qualcomm, Nokia and Siemens, as well as Sony PlayStation and ExxonMobil.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Luton born Nigerian raised in Saudi Arabia- 7 words, bit of a cheat!
How did you get into PR?
The 1990’s Eddie Murphy film Boomerang might have had something to do with it (advertising-based, but close enough!), but to be honest, I pretty much fell into it. I started working for the licensing and merchandise arm of a TV production company / channel, and got friendly with the PR company that used to handle the promotion of our shows and properties when they were coming on air. Their work sounded fun and they had great additional clients, one thing led to another and then pow….I was a PR person!
What do you love about your job?
I get to change and influence things. Maybe its ego (or psychosis!) but I do love that what we do has the ability to change behaviour and perceptions amongst people. That we do this without the traditional budgets enjoyed by our brothers and sisters in advertising makes it even more impactful for me. Plus, it’s a job that suits my personality. I genuinely have no interest in self-publicity, but I’m a people person and PR, when you boil it down, is simply about people and knowing how to communicate with them.
What are you most proud of?
I take pride in being confident enough to try new things throughout my career. I’ve not been afraid to walk away from roles / opportunities that weren’t right and I’ve also not accepted tying myself down to one particular sector or area. It hasn’t always worked out, but I’ve had an amazing range of different experiences in this industry across pretty much every sector. And I’ve rarely had to compromise myself, more so as I’ve got older. You always hear horror stories, but so far, I’ve been able to look myself in the mirror and sleep well enough.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
The best intentions and putting the work in doesn’t always guarantee success. And that there are limits to what you can ultimately control. It’s surprising how freeing life can be once you accept that.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Highlighting people is hard, as I’ve met so many good ones…Blaire Metcalfe (now at MSL) left an impression during our brief time at Ogilvy because of his energy and ability to just see things others couldn’t. Niki Hutchinson is also great – probably the most connected person in the tech PR sector, and possibly one of the nicest people in the industry too. In general though, I tend to think that mostly everyone in this industry has something to offer.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Empathy and communication – you need to know how to engage with people that have their individual pressure points, stimuli etc. You need to be interested in people.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter – purely for the immediacy and impact its had in society (for good and bad). Although it was better with the lower character limit – it forced people to at least try and be more succinct.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Not so much a journalist, but I love the Zero Fs given attitude of The Register. Its very refreshing and you can’t help but admire the way they are so irreverent about an industry that sometimes takes itself way too seriously.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Two pieces: You miss all the shots you never take / Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2018?
Got to be the NOWTV campaign with the Jeff Goldblum statue promoting the Jurassic Park anniversary. Yes, it was a stunt, but it was awesome! As to a fail, I have to admit that the Mastercard World Cup one left a bad taste in my mouth…
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
This is a tricky one as I’m not 100% sure that its something the industry itself can do alone. From many of us from these backgrounds, we’re pushed towards more “serious” and traditional career paths (finance, law, medicine etc.) I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and I’m still not sure my parents understand what I do. I would say perhaps do a greater job of promoting those at the highest levels that come from these backgrounds so that they are more visible to the general public. I’m not sure that PR is something that people from BME backgrounds aren’t interested in, its more that it isn’t prominently on their radar. You hear “business”, you don’t think of marketing / PR necessarily – but people will recognise sectors likes sales or management. Its like the Obama effect – kids see it and think, yeah that’s a door I never thought was open to me, but potentially could be.
Chinedu is one of 18 mentors for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme 2019.