After studying a Law degree, Folusho Falegan began work in the charity sector where she discovered a desire to make a real difference in society. At the same time, her love for the written word began to play a role in her career – from crafting messaging to understanding how to communicate with different audiences.
Next on her journey was several years at BT where she really began to discover the power of engaging employees behind a powerful cause including: creating an educational ‘micro-volunteering’ opportunity that allowed staff to understand the signs of modern slavery; creating a volunteering newsletter, read by thousands of employees, to drive up the engagement with the volunteering programme and exploring how digital platforms, such as Sharepoint, can be used internally to create ‘buzz’ and drive action.
In her current role as Corporate Communications Manager at Pernod Ricard UK, Folusho is responsible for internal communications including company events – from refining messaging with senior leaders to developing strategic engagement plans. She has also introduced a regular Newswire to encourage greater readership of internal stories and manages all other internal communication channels.
Folusho also manages the PRUK Corporate S&R programme which includes supporting social enterprises through skills-based employee volunteering, managing activities to increase the positive impact the company can have on the environment and encouraging employees to use their time for good via a number of initiatives.
Outside of work, Folusho has many hobbies including singing, rock climbing and participating in the London Comedy Improv Scene!
Describe your background/yourself in 5 words max?
British born eldest – Nigerian heritage
How did you get into PR/comms/creative?
I always loved English as a child studying it up to A Level. Although I enjoyed my degree, I knew a legal career wasn’t for me so in the summer of my first year I decided to get some work experience in other fields.
I ended up working at the children’s charity Barnardo’s, as a Direct Marketing Intern, and the rest is history! After a summer of helping a team of creatives pull together marketing collateral, to both acquire and retain supporters, it was clear to me that I wanted to put my love of language to use in a way that was both creative and fulfilling.
What do you love about your job?
I love that I am part of a supportive, tight knit team that is really empowered to get things done. I have a lot of responsibility in my role and I love that we are all encouraged to suggest new ways of tackling problems and to seize potential opportunities without fear of recrimination if a test doesn’t go to plan.
This environment has allowed me to develop the S&R programme in ways that are exciting and impactful whilst knowing that I have the support of the senior leadership team to test new approaches.
What are you most proud of?
I started doing improv courses last year with the Hoopla comedy club. At first, I was unsure of this new world of spontaneity where you had to trust your partners on stage to have your back. But taking improv has been one of the best decisions of my life – leading to me being more open, brave and trusting myself and others.
I am most proud of the very first show I took part in, in front of a paying audience. I wasn’t certain if I had enough experience (‘What if they don’t think I’m funny?!’). However, when my teacher offered me the chance to participate, I knew I had to apply the golden rule of improv – ‘Yes and.’
Saying yes to something that scared me and then having a great show with fantastic scene partners was a feeling I can’t quite describe.
I strongly encourage everyone to try something new that pushes you out of your comfort zone!
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
After leaving school, a hard lesson I’ve had to learn is that sometimes your reality does not quite live up to your hopes and expectations. I had envisaged university as a moment where I would become part of a large group of friends who all understood my personality and sense of humour.
In reality, my first few years were harder than expected with this large group of friends not really materialising. However, I did make quality friendships with fewer people who have since gone on to become some of my closest friends.
The lesson of quality over quantity is one that I am grateful to have learnt as now I pursue friendships with depth as opposed to chasing an ever-growing Facebook friends list!
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
I used to go to school with Mercedes Benson, who has since gone onto work in various creative industries. She is the founder of ‘SocialFixt’ a social platform that aims to connect the dots within the creative industry for BAME talent. I love that someone I grew up with is doing something tangible to help BAME talent get into industries that might otherwise be closed to them.
What skill do you think every PR/comms/creative has to nail?
I think that not being afraid to think outside the box is key! To be successful in this sector you can’t just follow what has been done before as audiences are ever evolving.
Today’s consumer needs to be communicated with in ways that resonate with who they are and what they believe in to really land the message.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I personally love a social network called Goodreads. I am an avid reader, from literature to chick lit, and love escaping into another world. Goodreads is a place where you can join different communities, discuss your favourite books, read reviews and discover the next book you can’t put down.
Goodreads is my favourite social network because it brings people together over a shared love of reading and gives them a space to share their honest reviews and recommendations.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Louis Theroux! Since the 90s, Louis has been making documentaries that get to the heart of who people really are – the good, the bad and the ugly. I love his ability to use silence, and a certain British awkwardness, to allow his documentary participants to reveal more than just the superficial. His willingness to tackle subjects objectively ranging from the light hearted to the challenging is also incredibly admirable.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Just be you’. It’s very easy to compare yourselves to others, from your personality to your appearance. But to what end? Accepting who I am and loving all my quirks, my flaws and the best parts of myself allows me to go through life with the confidence to take on the various challenges that it throws my way.
Best campaign of 2019 so far?
The Gregg’s Vegan Sausage Roll campaign is my favourite campaign of 2019. The social media content parodied the launch of Apple products and this was supported by journalists being sent vegan rolls in mock iPhone packaging and stores selling sausage roll phone cases. All of this resulted in a campaign that had fun with a product that could easily have been preachy.
Better yet was the response from Gregg’s social media account to those criticising a vegan sausage roll. Rather than take an apologetic tone, the Gregg’s social accounts continued to have fun by responding in a challenging and humorous manner.
When Piers Morgan entered the fray, the back and forth banter helped ensure that in the same way people know when a new iPhone is launched they were aware of the launch of the Vegan Sausage Roll.
Blanket media coverage was generated because of the campaign and Gregg’s reinforced itself as a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
I think the sector needs to be more self-reflective and willing to challenge what is being done to encourage diversity on an ongoing basis. For example, it is not enough to simply throw events about diversity. Instead the sector needs to look to other industries that are at the forefront of encouraging diversity and take learnings that can be actioned.
Connect with Folusho on LinkedIn.
Folusho is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Sophie Parker, Global Associate Director, TALK.GLOBAL.