Kam has extensive experience working in-house and agency side for a diverse range of brands in a number of industries from fashion and healthcare to food and youth culture.
She started her PR career with a work experience placement at Exposure supporting well-known high street brands including Converse and Levis, alongside gaining a BA in Fashion Promotion, Journalism and Broadcast at University of the Arts London.
A brief stint at Vitabiotics followed after which she spent 5 years earning her stripes at Virgo Health (sister agency of Golin). Kam’s remit included driving public health awareness campaigns for contraception and hepatitis C for Roche Pharmaceuticals, leading Reckitt Benckiser’s consumer health portfolio (Veet, Scholl, Optrex and Nurofen) and convincing the Daily Mail and other nationals to write about taboo topics including diarrhoea, constipation and bacterial vaginosis.
Needing to flex her muscles Kam joined the Food and Drink team at H&K, leading their mums and healthy food comms for household names including Schwartz, Twinings and Robinsons Fruit Shoot. As the team’s resident health and nutrition expert, Kam spearheaded Belvita Breakfast’s health and consumer strategy which included dialling up the product’s science credentials to engage dietitians and nutritionists and prove biscuits for breakfast could be a good thing!
Prior to joining the National Citizen Service Trust (NCS), the UK’s fastest growing youth movement as the Head of PR and Corporate Comms and setting up their first ever small but mighty PR, Comms and Public Affairs Team, Kam spent 3 years as an Associate Director at Weber Shandwick. There she provided strategic counsel to Coca-Cola ahead of the sugar tax and led a large team to support Aldi supermarkets on their quest to ‘Big 4’ status.
Kam recently set up NCS Trust’s first ever Black Women’s Network. Outside of The Trust Kam champions diversity across the PR and Comms industry and also leads a ‘Black Women in PR and Comms’ networking group.
● Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Candid speaking, Londoner via Jamaica.
● How did you get into PR/communications?
When I was 12, my career options were to be a fashion designer, lawyer or a scientist – complete contradiction in skill set, right? But that’s me! So when choosing a degree and a career my goal was to do something that fused my passion for creativity with my love of theory and practical skill.
Public relations was the only career that fitted the bill – I am one of those weird ‘folks’ who studied PR – I completed a Fashion Promotion (Journalism, PR and Broadcast) at the University of the Arts London. What’s doubly weird about this is that this was at a time when getting in to PR was more of a who you know game so when I was going for my first job most companies frowned on the fact that I’d studied PR!
● What do you love about your job?
What I love about PR is the ability to ‘solve problems’ big and small. That may be finding new ways to engage an audience or to help a brand become more relevant.
The beauty of being in a role that requires problem solving is that it often requires a team – there are not many career paths that provide an opportunity to work with experts in their fields from all walks of life, to continually learn about people and what drives them or that continually tests what you knew to be true. The world doesn’t stop evolving and PR & Comms allows me to continually evolve.
● What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of how far I’ve come. This industry is not for the faint hearted and at times I thought not for a young, black woman! The challenges still exist and I’ve still got a long way to go however I am proud to have worked for leading agencies large and small and to have led on great campaigns that drove tangible results such as Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot and the NCS Sainsbury’s food bank partnership.
● What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Unconscious bias is real – for all of us – you often need to work twice as hard to get a smidgen of what can be handed to others on a plate. If you want to make a change you really need to be the change you want to see.
● Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Gabriela Lungu (Wings Creative Leadership): One of the most creative people I’ve ever worked with Mitchell Kaye (The Academy): I admire that after setting up and selling Mischief he then started The Academy from scratch – so impressive!
● What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
● What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram – not sure favourite is the right word however it is definitely the one I use the most!
● What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I don’t have a favourite podcast however there are a few that I binge listen to.
● Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Ciaran Thapar. One of the few journalists I follow on instagram – it’s great that he provides a platform for underrepresented voices to have their stories told.
● What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
There are two pieces of advice that my dad drilled into me when I was younger, that I draw on during my highs and my lows:
1/ An old jamaican proverb: ‘If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run’
Translation: If you want good your nose has to run
Meaning: In order to gain success you have to work hard
2/ ‘Find something you are good at and stick to it’
● Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2019?
Campaign I loved: Finishing It – Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and Simon Armitage
Campaign I disliked: Sephora ‘closing for diversity training’
● Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
The sector needs to up it’s game on inclusion and belonging – one thing that has become clear, through platforms like BME Pros and ColorComm and sitting on diversity panels, is there are more than a handful of BAME PR professionals, a great deal more than when I started out almost 14 years ago. However the challenges and micro-aggressions are largely still the same. Diversity without inclusion is a lose-lose situation.
The sector needs to do more to make those already working in PR and Comms, from diverse backgrounds, to feel included, valued and respected and place more value on having a team of diverse individuals that all bring something different to strategy development and creativity.
Once this happens, there will be more BAME PR professionals progressing within the sector and in a position to influence and more BAME professionals talking and sharing the sector’s diversity credentials within their peer groups and their communities – increasing consideration for a career in PR and communications.
Kam is one of 18 mentors for the 2020 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 14 February 2020.