Lameya (La-mee-ya) is Marketing and Communications Account Director at Edcoms, the UK’s leading marketing and communications agency specialising in education. She helps organisations large and small on a diverse range of communication challenges to create social value resulting in powerful positive change.
Lameya works across a diverse client portfolio including the British Olympic Association, Primark, GSK, Land Rover BAR, and Google Expeditions. Previously, she worked on global civil society programmes at the British Council, including the Department for Education’s Prime Minister’s Global Fellowship and the Department for International Development flagship programme Connecting Classrooms within the middle east during the Arab Spring.
Prior to marcomms, Lameya cut her teeth in law and received a LLM from the School of Oriental Studies, in Human Rights and International Law. She was inspired to set up a halfway house for women suffering domestic abuse in Bangladesh after working on a dowry murder case in Dhaka as part of her fieldwork.
Outside her 9-5, Lameya has been a freelance photographer for over 10 years and established her own business back in 2011. She’s taken her camera around the globe documenting the world around her. From being tear gassed at the frontline of the Gezi protests in Istanbul, dancing with skeletons for Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico to participating in a gifting economy in the Nevada desert at Burning Man, Lameya loves the power of storytelling through PR whatever the medium to bring people together and create a common ground whether it’s through a stat, photo, a live experience or campaign.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Gobby Bengali lass. Education enthusiast.
How did you get into PR/comms?
Growing up in Scotland incubated the ideal living conditions for an identity crisis. I found myself navigating through west vs east; north vs south; traditional vs modernity and trying to make sense of why people presumed I should be wearing a bindi instead of a kilt.
I grew up realising the world around me liked to put whole colours, races and religions into little boxes that didn’t reflect me. As a result, I’ve always been passionate about confronting stereotypes – especially within women’s rights and diversity.
I started off studying law (already an act of rebellion from my medic family) because I wanted to change the world. I was halfway through the bar when I ditched it to work in international relations at the British Council and finally embraced my inner creative. It was there I helped clients who struggled with content reach their target audiences with sharp, meaningful campaign stories and found my passion for PR. Whether it’s a blog, event, press or social I loved conveying their story with the most impact.
What do you love about your job?
Working in a fast-paced agency environment produces new challenges every day, which keeps me on my toes! I enjoy the process of creative problem-solving, applying it to the full marcomms mix to find the best solution for our clients.
My typical day could range from managing a press event with TeamGB athletes, dealing with crisis comms for a global brand, to pitching for new work. I’m passionate about the transformative power education has to change young people’s lives. This could be through using sport to build common ground, helping primary school children eat more healthily or opening the possibilities of a career in science.
It also helps that my team mates at EdComs are absolutely brilliant. We all work exceptionally hard, spur each other on and offer comedy relief when needed!
What are you most proud of?
My proudest achievement is the multi-channel strategy I devised that brought Google’s latest educational VR offering Expeditions to the UK schools market.
The campaign succeeded in transporting 1,000,000 students in one academic year to far off places including stepping into the NASA Space station, diving underwater to see the Great Barrier Coral Reef and trekking up Machu Picchu. As a result, over 3,000 schools hosted an Expedition in more than 430 towns and cities in the UK showcasing the technology.
The campaign coincided with a shift in current affairs within the UK landscape post-Brexit. I’m proud that Expeditions enabled students across the UK to leap over cultural walls, to cross the barriers of time and to experience the wider world from the confines of their classroom. The technology enabled students who wouldn’t necessarily have the access or motivation to experience the similarities between ourselves and others, real or imagined. I’m proud that this particular PR campaign had the power to transform young people’s perceptions of the world.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Don’t be afraid of putting your ideas forward. A seemingly crazy/insane concept might turn out to be creative genius. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
Malcolm Tucker, the fictional Westminster spin doctor. Purely because his one liners are comedy gold!
Karen Blackett is also a big inspiration as a huge champion of diversity within the industry. I first heard about Karen when I was shortlisted for the Channel 4 diversity bursary back in 2010. She launched the first government-backed apprenticeship scheme for the creative industry offering an NVQ in marketing and communications, which inspired Channel 4 to do a similar programme.
On a personal level, Paralympian Susie Rodgers. I knew Susie when she made the decision to switch careers from language specialist to elite athlete. I now work with her on Get Set, the youth engagement programme from TeamGB and ParalympicsGB and her determination and commitment to diversity and inclusion is infectious. She simply kicks ass!
What is your favourite social network and why?
LinkedIn as a professional tool. It helped me land my current role – so can vouch it works!
I’m still a loyal Facebook fan and use it to connect with my friends and family scattered all over the globe (and stalk classmates).
Despite being a freelance photographer, I was late to the Insta-party but love it for visual inspiration.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Shahidul Alam, the Bangladeshi photojournalist and human rights activist is a personal hero of mine. He had a PhD in chemistry before taking up photography, concentrating on issues of social justice and setting up a media school in South Asia. He’s the original trailblazer breaking conventions!
He also set up Majority World, a photo agency and social enterprise, which provides a platform to talented photographers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Working in education, the current crisis in STEM skills has been an ongoing narrative alongside the gender gap in getting girls involved in these disciplines at a young age. Aarathi Prasad is another fantastic science communicator and geneticist I’ve had the pleasure of working with on various STEM campaigns. Her recent opinion piece ‘Thanks to Cheddar Man, I feel more comfortable as a brown Briton’ is a fascinating read.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mate Cat Wiles, Head of Planning at VCCP, tore my anodyne CV to shreds and told me to have the self-belief and confidence to be myself and not dilute my personality.
Your favourite PR campaign/stunt of 2018 so far?
JR’s recent “So Close” larger than life photography installation in New York was a powerful piece that cast a spotlight on the issue of global immigration and the refugee crisis. It payed tribute to those who journeyed out to Ellis Island during the early 20th century in search of a better life. The project involved hybrid depictions of the Ellis Island immigrants with the faces of today’s Syrian refugees.
I loved how the visual element of the campaign connected people to real-life stories, elevating the message to provoke a discussion.
Why did you apply for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme?
PR as a profession is not widely recognised in my community back home. I’m still referred to as a ‘law graduate’ rather than a marcomms specialist. I want to change that. I want perceptions to shift that being a doctor, lawyer or engineer are not the only career paths out there or the only measurement for success!
I was in the office and literally fist pumped the air when I found out I made the scheme!
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Educate young BAME people that a career in PR is a possibility and achievable. Provide internships, work experience and start pathways into the sector.
Celebrate BAME professionals. What’s fantastic about BME PR Pros is it’s brought visibility to this talent pool. It’s a no brainer that you will generate the best creative, campaigns, stories and insight when you empower and encourage everyone to participate.
There also needs to be a dialogue with key decision makers within the sector. They need to support and be part of the change so there is fairer representation across the board. The more people that reach senior level from diverse backgrounds, the more role models and mentors there will be to drive on the next generations
Lameya is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Avril Lee, Deputy Global Healthcare Practice Chair at Burson-Marsteller.