Selena is an Account Director in the H+K Strategies Healthcare team. With almost ten years of experience in the communications industry, Selena started her career as a graduate working in broadcast PR before moving into healthcare communications.
Selena has worked with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies including Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, Allergan and Novo Nordisk, and had led global healthcare communications programs in areas such as patient advocacy in rare diseases, hepatitis C, dermatology and ophthalmology. She also has experience running UK consumer healthcare campaigns and has worked with several well-known pharmacy brands.
Throughout her career Selena has had a passion for media relations and storytelling, which has led her to secure fantastic results for clients. She works collaboratively with clients and their stakeholders to truly understand their business and challenges, and prides herself in delivering thoughtful, well executed programs.
● Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Native Londoner, Gujarati, Indian
● How did you get into PR/communications?
I started out as an intern at a broadcast PR company fresh out of university. I didn’t really know what PR was, and I was tasked with selling prospective clients in the health sector radio campaigns, which is what sparked my interest in healthcare communications. My boss at the time set me a target of bringing in £10k worth of new business to secure a graduate job – I did that, and the rest is history!
● What do you love about your job?
Working in healthcare communications brings a different adventure and a new challenge every day – from the clients we represent to the patient advocates, doctors and specialists I work with and the diversity of the projects. I could be working on global patient advocacy strategy one day and be in a rehabilitation centre the next, doing research for a campaign to raise disease awareness amongst drug users. Access to medicines and care affects us all, whether it’s for our own health or that of someone we love. I’m proud that my work makes a difference to people’s lives.
● What are you most proud of?
There’s no better feeling than winning new business. I’m proud in my first 10 months at H+K I contributed to winning a new client and a selling a very bold project to an existing client.
● What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
For me, the hardest lesson to learn has been believing in myself! Like a lot of women in PR the job comes with a healthy dose of imposter syndrome, especially as you move up the ladder. I learned that if I don’t believe in my abilities, no one else will.
● Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
I’d have to say my own mentor Daljit Bhurji at Diffusion PR because he’s been an inspiring and supportive voice during a turbulent time in my career.
Also, the friends in communications who I started out with all those years ago as a graduate – they’re all doing amazing things in their sectors and it’s lovely to watch the journeys they’re on.
● What skill do you think every PR has to nail?
Being authentic. It may sound abstract but authenticity threads through everything we do in communications; it’s the reason a journalist listens to our pitch, it’s why a client takes our advice and it gives us a sense of purpose. We can all get caught up in corporate-speak but being able to articulate why something is important in a human, believable way is the cornerstone of effective communications.
● What is your favourite social network and why?
Instagram. I don’t post a lot on social media but I’m a sucker for a cheeky Insta-story! There
is also something therapeutic about mindlessly scrolling through Instagram after a long day
(or maybe that’s just phone addiction!)
● What’s your favourite podcast and why?
I have so many favourites it’s hard to choose just one! At the moment, I’m loving How to Fail with Elizabeth Day. It’s interesting to hear a different side to the usual ‘success story’, as the interviews focus on what didn’t go right in peoples’ personal and career journeys. I also really like In Good Company with Otegha Uwagba because she interviews super interesting and accomplished business women and its great to hear her conversations filtered through a BAME lens.
● Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4! I love his podcast, Ways to Change the World – he has a great interview style and I could listen to him talk to his guests forever! I’ve also grown up watching him on TV so he feels like a constant media presence.
● What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be happy and do always do things that challenge you (if one of those changes, it time to move on).
● Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2019?
The biggest PR fail has to be the government’s #knifefree chicken box campaign! It’s a classic case of not really understanding the underlying issues affecting these groups of people. It appears that they based their campaign on one over-simplified and stereotypical audience insight. There must be a better way to use £57,000 than printing messages on chicken boxes!
A PR yay is Pampers pledging to install 5,000 baby changing tables in men’s bathrooms in the U.S and Canada by 2021. This came in response to a father who tweeted a picture of him changing a nappy on his lap in the bathroom, which went viral. This is PR win for Pampers and shows how one voice, that represents so many dads’ experiences, really can make a difference. I also love that it’s helping to equalise the gender roles between men and women in a very tangible way.
● Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Support more people of colour and leaders from different backgrounds to sit in senior leadership roles within PR and communications agencies. People working in, or considering a move to, the communications industry need to see other people like them within these organisations.
Selena is one of 18 mentors for the 2020 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 14 February 2020.