Julian Obubo is a Senior Campaign Manager at Manifest, a brand communications agency with offices in London, Stockholm and New York. In 2017, Julian was named in PR Week’s prestigious 30 Under 30, an annual list of thirty young stars of UK PR. Julian shapes Manifest’s recruitment and work culture around diversity and host the agency’s industry podcast Fresh Meet. Besides a love of plantains (some call it an addiction) he cares deeply about Beyonce’s music, reading The Atlantic and craft beer.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Bearded Nigerian plantain addict
How did you get into PR?
The honest reason is because I was looking for a university degree that did not have anything to do with mathematics. PR seemed to fit that bill, and I learned that it was what my grandfather did for most of his professional life.
What do you love about your job?
The variety. Working in PR has made me learn a great deal about areas I never thought I’d have anything to do with. I can speak with confidence about the craft beer and whisky scene and also offer informed opinions about B2B software or augmented reality apps. PR makes you a generalist and it makes you a very interesting person to talk to at parties.
What are you most proud of?
The working culture we’ve developed at Manifest is truly unique (I know most agencies will say that) but we’ve created a brilliant family of friends that are uncompromising in their creativity. I’m proud to have worked there for over six years and I’m looking forward to the next six.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
You are going to have days from hell, but you will survive them. I’ve come to accept that there will be times where everything will go wrong, in the worst way. It might be of your own doing, or forces beyond your control. Don’t take it too personally, don’t dwell on it, learn from it and grow.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Bozoma St. John, she’s a force of nature. She had a brief stint at Uber and was instrumental in beginning to repair the numerous hits Uber had taken to its reputation in the last few years. I love her confidence and how passionate she is about what she does
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Critical and Analytical thinking. There are far too many empty vessels that are getting by simply by virtue of their contacts.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter. It makes me laugh and learn. It’s a great source of information and analysis on current affairs and the memes are unmatched. Shout out to ‘black twitter’ specifically.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Amelia Gentleman at The Guardian. Her work on the Windrush scandal was so thorough and her writing so moving. She exposed the Home Office for what it really is: a labyrinth of bureaucracy with no interest in human beings.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A good idea should scare you a little bit.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2018?
Fail: The White House press office. It’s a dumpster fire day in, day out.
Yay: Everything Greggs did this year. Greggs’ PR stories always bring a smile to my face.
I have some reservations about Nike’s Just Do It campaign, but I applaud them for their bravery, and for seeing the bigger picture and playing the long game.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Empower everyone in the agency- from intern to CEO- to, firstly, understand, and secondly, be able to articulate why diversity is important. Nothing will ever change if diversity is considered to be the responsibility of a few people within the company.
Julian is one of 18 mentors for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme 2019.