Kanayo is a Senior Account Executive at Aspectus Group, working on the Financial Services team. He joined the agency as an intern in August 2019 after graduating with a BA in Spanish with International Relations that summer.
In both personal life and work, he is an avid communicator that aims to engage and build relationships with a broad range of personalities. Kanayo is passionate about leaving comfort zones and navigating new challenges to learn and grow as much as possible.
Fluent in Spanish, he is also currently learning French. In his free time, he is often obsessing over old Justin Timberlake music or complaining about Arsenal.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Londoner, Nigerian jollof, plantain, Arsenal
How did you get into PR/communications?
University life was coming to an end which meant ‘adulting’ was nearby.
After panicking, I made a list of 3 to 5 interests, 3 to 5 “skills I have”, and looked for industries that matched these. PR came up frequently so, since then, the mission became to land a role in an agency right after graduation.
What do you love about your job?
I get to write, make friends and tell stories for a living!
Of course, it’s a lot more than that. The nervous breakdowns, close tears and impending deadlines are rife. But if we’re sticking to the fundamentals, a huge part of PR involves generating ideas that align with clients’ company objectives and, interestingly, there are a lot of elements you can really take and run with. As while there are certain blueprints you can follow, at the end of the day, how you engage the relevant people is really down to you. There’s plenty of opportunity to own and individualise your approach.
What are you most proud of?
I got to travel quite early in my career – two colleagues and I spent nearly a week at a client’s event in Amsterdam. I’d only been at Aspectus for three months, after being an intern for two. And while PR’s certainly not all about fancy events, it truly felt rewarding to be given that opportunity and responsibility out there at such an early stage.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Apparently, everything isn’t personal.
Honestly, PR can get STRESSFUL. Things hit the fan for whatever reason and no pro is, or ever will be, immune to this. Crises happen and there’s only so much you can plan for. Instead, you need to keep moving and constantly adapt, communicate your problems and really swallow your pride at times and ask for help from those around you.
Could you imagine – me, a Nigerian, swallowing pride and asking for help? Haha!
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
Sofie Skouras, deputy head of our Tech team.
Her reputation already preceded her once I joined and it became clear why fairly quickly. With admirable client and people management skills, she’s pragmatic, full of charisma and extremely likeable, meaning no client of hers is left unhappy.
Aside from client work, with her interpersonal skills and empathy, Sofie embodies what I imagined the ideal PR professional to be. Furthermore, she reads people and situations effortlessly well. And leading by example, she has a knack for inspiring the rest of her team to reach new heights and see no limits daily.
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
Self-motivation – it’s a bit like football when things are very intense.
There are times where energy is low, but everything around you doesn’t stop moving. Still, you need to find a way to pull something impressive out of the bag and make fans happy amid pressure. Even if you’re not at 100%, you need to find a way sometimes. Still learning.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter – I genuinely don’t trust people who aren’t in love with Twitter like I am.
The platform is one giant conversation, whether it be politics, sports, music or shoes. I reckon I’ll be telling my grandkids about how much they missed out.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
‘Halfcast Podcast’ without a doubt! Hosted by ‘Chuckie Online’ and ‘Poet’. It’s one of those where if you know, you know.
Chuckie’s notably a seasoned conversationalist, Poet is open-minded and introspective. This combination makes it work. Also, they discuss a large range of things, from music, to mental health, to heartbreak, to institutional racism – it’s unapologetically authentic. I connect with it fairly easily and the lingo resonates with me, given most of it is centred around London music/entertainment/cultural scenes, which I follow.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I like James Cook, tech correspondent at The Telegraph. Not only does he write some great stories, but he’s quite witty on Twitter too.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Growing up, my dad told me, “be anything you want, but don’t you dare be average”.
As an ethnic minority kid, you would have had the “twice as hard” talk with your parents at some point. Usually, that’s followed by the “doctor, lawyer, or engineer” speech. So, to me, my dad’s advice felt more like “the same principle from the former still stands, however you’re not limited to the options from the latter, and I trust and believe in you to make the most of that.”
I don’t think I’ve ever told him, but that’s something I’ve never forgotten – I bet he’s smiling now as he reads this.
How would you describe 2020 in one word?
*Fixes tie, clears throat*…. “Unprecedented”.
Who is your coronavirus comms hero and why?
Iman Leila – a beauty PR manager with her own agency. Recently, Kylie Jenner unexpectedly posted an Instagram photo (to her 185 million followers) wearing her client’s (a small, a black owned, London-based fashion brand) dress. This went viral and was covered in Bloomberg, Vogue, MTV, Daily Mail and many more! It’s a huge win for the brand and massive for Iman as her one-woman (PR) show.
I have nothing to do with beauty PR, but I’ve been following Iman on Twitter for some time and watching her hustle, so it was great to see the internet go crazy over this.
Finally… Which brand impressed you with their response to Black Lives Matter and why?
Ben and Jerry’s has been very vocal about calling for society to dismantle pre-existing racial inequality issues. It’s the consistency that I appreciate the most and it’s great to see them use their large platform so effectively and unapologetically.