Selena started her career in broadcast PR, where she worked with health and wellbeing brands to plan and implement radio PR campaigns. With seven years of agency experience, Selena specialises in healthcare PR and has worked with a range of pharma and consumer health clients including Allergan, Novo Nordisk, Menarini, Reckitt Benckiser and Omega Pharma.
Selena has successfully managed programmes for pharma clients across a range of disease areas including haemophilia, ophthalmology and migraine, as well as for consumer health clients in the areas of pain, nutrition, weight loss and skincare. Having built strong relationships with journalists from national consumer and medical media, Selena’s expertise lies in media relations strategy.
Selena graduated with a 2:1 in English and Related Literature from the University of York in 2010 and is currently a Senior Account Manager in the health practice at MSL.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
London. Indian. York. Literature. Media.
How did you get into PR/comms?
I studied English Literature at university and after graduating I knew that I wanted to work in a job that allowed creativity, the chance to work with a broad range of people and that involved communication. I was initially interested in journalism, but after trying my hand being a writer for my local paper I decided it wasn’t for me. After completing an internship at a broadcast PR agency I was offered a full time job, which was an unconventional route into PR. Unlike traditional PR agencies, my role here also involved sales and lead generation to bring in clients, and generate ideas that could be translated into radio PR campaigns. After working with various health and wellbeing brands in radio PR, I wanted to learn about healthcare PR specifically, which led me to my first traditional agency role at Tonic Life Communications.
What do you love about your job?
It’s a cliché but I love that no day in PR is the same. Even in a specialist sector like health, the variety of work I get to be involved in keeps me engaged and motivated. In one month alone I could work on anything from planning medical congress communications, to analysing clinical studies and working with doctors and medical teams, to organising a consumer media event and selling in stories to the media. I love that my job is creative and challenging in equal measure – because the health and pharma environment is so regulated it can be a challenge to do something different but it’s satisfying to know that your work affects people in a very real way.
What are you most proud of?
The versatility to adapt to different industry sectors, and the ability to progress throughout my career. My PR roles to date have spanned a variety of industries, from working with consumer health and pharma clients to animal health and food brands. I believe this eclectic mix of experience has broadened my creativity, and allowed me to borrow inspiration from other sectors and experiences with different types of clients, to strengthen the quality of my work. Despite the challenge of adapting across sectors, I have consistently achieved great results and added value to account teams. This has been evidenced by steady promotion throughout my career. Building relationships with clients and adding value to their business continue to be driving forces for me, which I believe has underpinned these successes. In addition to this, being part of a dynamic account team motivates me, and I have relished progressing from being a junior team member to now successfully leading projects and coaching others.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Not to take things too personally!
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great women leaders in PR. In particular Avril Lee who has taught me a great deal about ethical health PR and is an inspiring champion for diversity in the industry.
Angie Wiles and Sarah Matthews (co-founders of Virgo Health) I also think are great examples of women creating and leading their own workforce. I believe Angie has now launched The Difference Collective which provides senior freelancers for short term projects in the health industry – a great solution for PRs who want work flexibly and clients who need a specific skill set to deliver a project outside of the traditional agency model.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I love Instagram because a picture speaks a thousand words! I never used to take many pictures before but joining Instagram has made me more aware of what great photos look like. I love that you can curate and personalise your feed with Instagram stories too.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I love watching Cathy Newman on Channel 4 news. Her engaging and tenacious interview style makes her fascinating to watch and I think it’s because we don’t see very many women unapologetically taking centre stage.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You can always do more than you think.
Your favourite PR campaign/stunt of 2018 so far?
I enjoyed Greggs’ Valentine’s Day campaign where they hosted candlelit dinners for couples in partnership with Open Table. They transformed selected branches into ultra-romantic dining spots available to book for £15. This was great because it put Greggs (possibly the least romantic dining destination) on the map as the place to be on Valentine’s Day. Keeping it affordable also stayed in line with its brand position.
Why did you apply for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme?
I applied for the scheme because I thought it would be valuable to gain advice and support from someone outside of my day-to-day job. I like the idea of having a fresh perspective from a diverse background, as it’s not always the case at work. I was surprised and excited to be chosen.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
I think it would be good to make PR and comms visible as an option to people leaving high school and university. If I had known what PR was at that stage, I may have made more of a concerted effort to get to know the industry and have made an informed choice, as opposed to falling into it after university like so many people do!
Selena is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Daljit Bhurji, CEO & Co-Founder, Diffusion.