Jessica Hope is a seasoned PR practitioner who has worked in the sector for over 12 years. She is the founder and Managing Director of Wimbart, a London-based boutique PR agency with a heavy emphasis on Africa and emerging market tech start-ups, with her clients predominantly based in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.
Before focussing fully on public relations, Jessica was a consumer lifestyle and pop culture writer, and wrote for and edited a number of Manchester-based titles. She moved on from journalism to PR, and has since worked both agency and client-side, focussing predominantly on B2B, the UK government and arts sectors.
A self-proclaimed history nerd, before she moved into the African tech space, Jessica worked as a Press Officer at the Natural History Museum, before taking up the role as Head of Press for the Jewish Museum in London. She was lured into the Africa tech space with the opportunity of Global Head of Communications for IROKO, a [now] $40m-backed media and entertainment technology company. Her years working for one of Africa’s most exciting and talked about start-ups that gave her the opportunity to build on her networks across the continent and found her own PR Agency.
Jessica is a regular on the tech in Africa speaking circuit, and regularly attends panels and holds masterclasses on PR for start-ups in emerging markets. She also holds a BA in History and Masters in Religion & Political Life.
How did you get into PR?
I’m a failed journalist – I was a magazine editor in Manchester from a super young age. Just local magazines – very small and before social media was really a big ‘thing’. When the last one I worked for folded, and I needed to pay the mortgage, I put my writing skills to work and got a job in a PR firm.
What do you love about your job?
The variety – and also, in my case, I’ve travelled a lot. That’s been amazing.
What are you most proud of?
Starting my own PR company. I still feel like a teenager at heart, so actually running and operating a successful PR company still feels a little bit grown up.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
How to figure out how to structure deals and how to navigate between time wasters.
Who are your favourite people in PR?
Journalists who print my stories 😛
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the sector?
Hustle. I think a lot of people have writing and textbook skills, but quite a few struggle to actually hustle and build relationships with journalists.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
What is your favourite social network and why?
I know people are quite down on it these days, but I’ve found LinkedIn pretty useful for the contacts I need to make. Also – it gives me a platform to share my PR wins and then acts as a type of new business platform.
Who is your favourite tweeter and why?
My old boss – Jason Njoku. He’s succinct, often cutting – doesn’t tweet that often but has a pretty impressive following
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
You need to leave me and start your own business.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to tackle diversity?
Start hiring black / Asian people [yes, stating the obvious] – and shout about it, to start attracting more BAME young people into the sector. It’s actually wild how many PR agencies have white-only teams. It really puts off young, BAME people, as they don’t recognise, or want to work within, that all-white demographic. I’ve never worked with a black PR that I haven’t personally hired myself.
Jessica is one of 15 mentors for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. Applications for mentees are now open – click here to find out more. The closing date for applications is Friday 16 February 2018.