Nigel Gordon studied marketing at undergraduate level and in 2015 obtained a master’s degree in international studies from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). He has gained PR agency experience as well as wealth of knowledge working with charities and NGOs, including WaterAid and the British Red Cross.
He has a keen interest in politics and has used his experience to grow and develop DKMS’ public affairs activities by engaging and educating MPs. Last year he was instrumental in getting several MPs to register as potential blood stem cell donors. At DKMS he has played a major role to support a busy press office (both reactive and proactive) to secure national and regional media coverage for the organisation and their stakeholders.
Describe your background/yourself in 5 words max?
Father; Leeds born, London raised.
How did you get into PR/comms/creative?
I studied for a joint honours degree in marketing and business law at undergraduate level but soon realised that I preferred the marketing side of my honours degree. PR was a module that particularly appealed to me. I applied to Redleaf Communications immediately after sitting my last exam at university and was given my first opportunity in PR by Emma Kane.
What do you love about your job?
After a hiatus from PR I returned a few years ago and worked with some key organisations. I’ve been at DKMS since 2017. I didn’t know much about them beforehand but promoting the fight against blood cancer is a worthwhile cause. What I love most about my job is raising awareness of blood cancer and motivating people to become potential blood stem cell donors.
What are you most proud of?
Attending relevant APPGs (All Party Parliamentary Groups) at the Houses of Parliament and going to Parliament is something I enjoy greatly. I worked with former Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey, Member of Parliament for Wantage and Didcot. Ed fully supported one of our patient appeals to help them find a matching blood stem cell donor. Thanks to Ed the patient’s appeals received renewed media interest and he helped pave the way for us to expand our public affairs work.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
PR is subjective – you’ll inevitably face a few losses. There have been times when even the best-laid campaigns fail to hit the mark. Sometimes the news agenda goes against you (think Brexit) or that super-duper campaign wasn’t actually super-duper to anyone other than you.
What skill do you think every PR/comms/creative has to nail?
To borrow a quote from Christopher Meyer, former UK ambassador to the US, I think everyone in PR needs to have “a quick mind, a hard head, a strong stomach, a warm smile and a cold eye.” And I’d probably add a good gob.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Twitter is my favourite social media network. I gave up on Facebook years ago and I’m not into Instagram. It’s terribly annoying with people constantly showing how much thinner they look now. Twitter is still professional and is a great way to quickly get in contact with journalists and helps build relationships and trust.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I really enjoy The Guardian’s Gary Younge. He writes with intelligence and I really like the work he has done with ‘Beyond the blade’ – the series investigating knife crime and youth violence. It was really compelling.
I attended one of Gary’s masterclasses. I was inspired that a person from my background could reach such dizzy heights. That masterclass inspired me to develop my journalistic writing, storytelling and enabled my writing for the South London Press and The Voice newspaper.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I was particularly struck by Leo Tolstoy writing: ‘If a man has the will he can learn anything.” I agree with this and have tried to apply it to my life as much as possible. There’s always room to improve oneself. I proved this when I completed my MA at SOAS.
I’m so thrilled that my mentor is Chinedu Udezue. He’s a great role model and it’s easy to see why he’s reached great heights in his career. It motivates me to continue working hard and strive to be as successful as he is.
Best campaign of 2019 so far?
KFC aren’t afraid to use humour in their comms and it’s refreshing to see this. We first saw them use this strategy last year with the ‘FCK’ campaign. So far this year I have been really impressed with their ‘imitators’ campaign, created by Mother. It’s such a cool campaign and to launch it during the England vs Czech Republic game must have generated a huge amount of exposure for their brand.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
There is a real problem in terms of diversity in this sector. The CIPR’s The State of the Profession 2019 reported that women occupy two-thirds of the industry, yet men occupy 44 per cent of the industry’s most senior roles. That’s not right.
The Guardian also recently reported that if you’re from an ethnic minority your remuneration is likely to lag behind that of your white colleagues. In the UK black, Asian and minority ethnic staff are reportedly losing out on £3.2bn a year in wages compared to white colleagues doing the same work. That doesn’t sound like a gap to me. That’s a national travesty.
The industry needs to get its house in order. Diversity isn’t simply about employing more underrepresented groups, it’s also very important to treat them equally in terms of progression and remuneration. Nurture their talent and show them that they are just as valuable as others. Anything less is an injustice.