Reesha Rajani is responsible for leading and building commercial relationships with clients across Consumer, B2B, Healthcare and Digital. She is an ACMA qualified management accountant with 20 years industry experience in managing and negotiating the commercial and financial aspects of agency life.
Reesha read Economics at the University of Manchester, and on completing her degree secured an accounting training contract with Interpublic. She has stayed with the group ever since, working with many IPG agencies, including Weber Shandwick, FutureBrand, Virgo Health and Golin.
Over the last two decades the way in which agencies are remunerated has changed dramatically, with many often finding themselves in a situation where they are ’singing for their supper’ and working harder for less in the face of rising costs and downward pricing pressure from clients. This is where Reesha comes in.
Reesha works with agencies to ensure they are fairly and equitably paid by new and existing clients to continue to help drive revenue growth and are able to operate a viable and sustainable business to invest in and attract the best talent.
Reesha also supports the new business tendering process from start to finish. From making sure we are able to qualify to tender through to commercial and contractual negotiations to seal the deal.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
East African Indian Brummie/Londoner
How did you get into PR?
After leaving university I was looking for a training contract, but knew that I didn’t want to go in to an accounting practice. My search seemed to naturally gravitate to creative companies, and that’s when I landed a role with a study scheme at an Interpublic agency. It felt right straightaway, and I haven’t looked back. I feel proud working in an industry that constantly leaves me in awe.
What do you love about your job?
There is no typical day. The type of work I do is very much project based, and in most instances you never know what’s round the corner. This means that I end up engaging with people from all sorts of backgrounds and disciplines inside and outside of the group – that’s one of the aspects I love the most. That, and seeing the campaigns I’ve helped come to life.
What are you most proud of?
For me openness and transparency is important in all aspects of my life. In business, I believe in working in a fair and honest way – it’s all about being real. I was proud of my contribution to Golin winning this year’s inaugural PRCA Ethical Champions award (large agency category). It truly is a reflection of our business practices, and highlights the progress we are making in moving away from the old school perception of the industry.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Never wing it. It’s so obvious to everyone around you when you don’t know what you’re talking about. The lesson I learnt early in my career, and definitely the hard way, is that preparation, preparation, and preparation is key. Have your facts straight, know your position, and understand the key messages you want to convey. Rehearse if the situation allows for it.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
I admire the people in PR that create long-lasting business relationships. Our founder Al Golin started out with McDonalds on his books and 60 years later we are still working with them. It’s testament to the great relationship he built.
What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Every PR Pro I know approaches each brief with bags of enthusiasm. I would love PR Pros to temper that can-do attitude in a measured way. Make things happen, but do it with your eyes wide open. Ensure you understand the risks clients are making you take on their behalf, and ensure you are paid properly for it. And never ever undersell the value of our work! Stand your ground.
What is your favourite social network and why?
LinkedIn – working with such a variety of people means it has become an invaluable tool to be able to perform my role properly. It helps me understand how to convey the messages I need to get across in the right way.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I like tracking the careers of up and coming journalists, and ones that have caught my attention recently are those that report on gritty real life issues outside of the mainstream. At the moment that, for me, is Ellie Flynn. Her style of old school undercover investigative journalism I find engaging and the issues she brings to the fore are thought-provoking and stay with you… I wait with bated breath on what subject matter she will tackle next.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I have crossed paths with some inspiring people who have all been generous with their words of wisdom, but the one that stays with me is ‘well, this isn’t life or death’. Those simple words help me keep perspective and a sense of balance and control in an industry that by its nature is so very fast-moving.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2018?
Yay: In 2018 I feel we have been spoilt with the splendours of some provocative and ground breaking campaigns from Nike to Iceland. It’s an intriguing time.
Fail: Dolce and Gabbana’s China campaign. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to understand the creative thought process and consumer testing that led the team to believe the campaign would be appropriate in anyway.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
D&I roles within the industry are increasing and that has got to be a step in the right direction, but the massive caveat is that such roles must not become silo’d. To effect real change initiatives need to have an integrated and company-wide approach with buy-in at all levels of an organisation. Otherwise strategies are likely to fail before they’ve even started, and we end up in a situation where we are just showboating.
To build strategies to encourage diversity we, BAME and non-BAME colleagues, also need to get comfortable talking about diversity, in the same way that organisations have had to face up to the gender pay gap. Organisations need to provide an environment that encourages the conversation and openness. When everyone understands the barriers and experiences faced, and continue to be faced, only then can barriers be taken down block by block.
Reesha is one of 18 mentors for the 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 15 February 2019.