Sanjani is the Global Head of PR at The Body Shop. She is responsible for developing a global PR strategy that underpins The Body Shop’s mission to fight for a fairer and more beautiful world. She draws on her strategic, creative thinking as well as collaboration and negotiation skills to manage large, complex projects.
Sanjani earned her PR stripes working with Edelman and Weber Shandwick (based out of London and Singapore) on flagship accounts such as Orange, Microsoft, Monster and P&G.
Her career highlights include: her first job with the International Red Cross in Kenya, helping reunite families separated by the genocide in Rwanda; promoting The Body Shop’s pioneering community fair trade programme; launching an innovative recycled plastics programme for The Body Shop, working with waste pickers in India; spearheading the Self Love Uprising for The Body Shop (working with British activist and actress Jameela Jamil) and working with MasterCard International in France on their on their World Cup sponsorship.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Indian Kenyan, living in London
How did you get into PR/communications?
I had no idea what PR was (still trying to explain it to my parents). I saw an advert for the Edelman graduate scheme while I was applying for jobs after university, and loved the sound of it.
What do you love about your job?
The craziness of it. It’s four seasons in a day, every day. I could be presenting budgets to our CEO one minute, and the next minute crafting crisis comms responses on female masturbation. True story!
What are you most proud of?
Buying my own flat in London through my own hustle, and not tapping into the bank of mum and dad.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Unlearning some of my conditioning. I spent years trying to fit in, especially to Western structures. Now I’m learning to take the uniform off.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
Angie Moxham, founder of The Fourth Angel and previous founder of 3 Monkeys. She’s set up two successful agencies and is a fearless bad-ass.
James Blamey, ex-Corporate Comms Director at Microsoft and currently Vice President of Corporate Communications at IBS Software. He was my client at Microsoft and had a big impact on me at the early stages of my career. He’s the most charming man. In a fast-paced and often ruthless world of PR, he taught me that it’s possible to be gentle, kind and have humility.
Elizabeth Bananuka, founder BME PR Pros & Blueprinted. I’ve only just met her, but where has she been all my life? Her ambition for creating more opportunities for diverse talent in communications is remarkable. It’s rare to find someone so funny, smart, generous and community-spirited. I’m fan-girling!*
[Ed.: *This is clearly the best paragraph ever written by any human being ever.]
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
French philosopher Blaise Pascal says it all: If I had more time, I would write a shorter letter.
For me it’s all about concise and simple communication. It takes time and skill to decode the masses of information into something that people understand and care about.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram. My husband says it’s because it’s all pictures and I don’t have to read! I find it to be a good source of inspiration for my job. I also like Twitter, but it too often leads me into a doom scrolling hell-hole.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
Not a podcast per se, but I like listening to Eckhart Tolle. He’s the author of ‘The Power of Now’ and his philosophy helps me stay present and grounded.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight. His political commentary hits the sweet spot of educating and informing, without being preachy. He tackles serious subjects without being serious.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. An ex-manager gave me this advice after I had made a big mistake with a client. I was in an absolute state and he reminded me that true leaders are the ones who can navigate choppy waters. It made me pull myself together and I often remember this when the going goes rough.
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2021 so far?
The Tiffany campaign is one that is both a fail and a yay for me, I’m still deciding which!
It started with the “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” campaign which ruffled a lot of feathers and evoked anger from loyal customers. Alienating your existing customers really goes against the grain and instinctively feels wrong. But it was edgy.
Then the polished big guns came out: Beyonce, Jay Z and the Basquiat painting. It’s definitely created a lot of noise, but I’m struggling to see the link between the Carters and “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany”.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Make a Bollywood film about how great the PR industry is. On a slightly more serious note, it would be great for diverse role models in the industry to speak out more and inspire others that this is a great career choice.
Sanjani was awarded a place on The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros. She will be mentored by Daljit Bhurjii, CEO & Co-Founder, Diffusion.