Shamina is an Associate Director at Tyto, a pan-european PR agency specialised in B2B tech.
She currently serves the UK and French markets and has responsibility for defining clients’ communications strategies and executing on those campaigns. Internally, she leads the training programme for junior team members as well as the DE&I agenda.
She started her career in Paris in the tech space (B2C and B2B), where she brought clients’ strategies and visions to life. One example was Skype, where she helped translate a technical product into the now well-known lifestyle brand. It was this successful experience that solidified her passion for innovation and novel technologies.
Following her move to London in 2011, she sought opportunities to broaden her experience and skillset. She founded a relocation agency for French expats in London, whilst continuing to develop content for diverse clients, on a freelance basis.
Shamina is a creative, with a passion for art and literature. As a Board member of an art gallery in London, she builds events that bring the local community together, whilst celebrating and championing diversity and inclusion. She is an avid reader, and loves literature and contemporary works by female authors and those from under-represented backgrounds.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Creative Indian French hip-hop mum
How did you get into PR/communications?
Having studied Media, Communications & Cultural Studies, my initial goal was to be a lecturer at university. When I got my Masters, my thesis director advised me to get some experience before applying for my PhD…reluctantly I followed his advice, and within a week I found a job at a boutique PR agency as a junior executive supporting the press office for Nokia – this was my first experience of Tech PR, which I grew to love, and never looked back!
What do you love about your job?
I am fascinated by the power of technology, and I love researching and getting my head around new trends and understanding how these innovations can impact everyday life as well as large-scale societal issues, such as climate change and cyber-security. Furthermore, by covering both the UK and French markets, I have to observe and understand the cultural, social, and political subtleties across these geographies before then advising my clients on the implications for their PR campaigns.
What are you most proud of?
The fact that I can thrive in chaos. In 2019, having focused on my children’s early years, I decided to return to my career in PR, and look for my first permanent position in the UK. What was already a bold move for me, became tougher as the pandemic hit just a few months into the job. I had to juggle multiple lockdowns, homeschooling, and childcare for 3 kids under 9, on top of the general uncertainty of those times… Despite all of this, over the last couple of years, I have managed to get a promotion, become a Board member, host my agency’s podcast on DEI topics, and tackle my fear of public speaking by delivering several masterclasses for graduates. I have realised that I am more resilient than I thought – in the words of the former NBA player Kevin Garnett, ‘Anything is possible!’
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Always keeping the bigger picture in mind: it’s not really about me, but more about how I can contribute towards and help the bigger goal. This applies to any projects or challenges that I am facing in both my personal and professional life. It’s definitely work in progress but when I manage to just step outside of myself and think bigger, it’s truly liberating!
Who is your favourite person in PR and why?
My first employer, Hervé Lobry: he founded his business in the 80s where B2B tech was quite niche. The amount of knowledge he had and shared with me was invaluable: new technologies, the media, client management, etc. I am very thankful that despite having absolutely zero experience in tech and no network, he brought me to a fast-paced team of great PR experts that established a great foundation for me in Tech PR. I have seen a lot of leaders in this business telling junior execs: ‘maybe you are not made for PR’, he was just NOT one of them!
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
Prioritisation. We work in an environment that is constantly moving; the last 2 years have really reinforced how quickly we have to adapt as a global community. As PR experts, this can often feel even more pronounced as we live in an era of real-time communications. Being clear on priorities is essential in order to deliver valuable outcomes on time.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I like Instagram… a lot! I have personally curated my IG so that I am positively influenced by the platform (although I do have the odd Kardashian update that pops-up from time to time)! But my timeline essentially revolves around creativity and art, bookstagrammers, entrepreneurship, activism and social justice. I appreciate the fact that the platform has facilitated the promotion of positive messages of change and empowered activist campaigns, such as BLM and #metoo, which have undeniably influenced the collective mind.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
My favourite podcast is “How to Own the Room”, hosted by Viv Groskop. I have been regularly listening to this podcast for a few years now. I am passionate and impressed by public speaking and one of my personal goals is to get out there on a stage one day with a mic! Dreams aside, I love the host’s tone, she has so much compassion for her guests and always looks for tangible learnings and take-aways. She essentially interviews inspirational women, deep dives into their experiences and highlights tips to share with the listeners. Each episode is humanising and authentic.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I really enjoy reading articles written by the freelancer Mary Lou Costa, who specialises in the future of work, with a specific focus on women’s careers. She launched a newsletter about a year ago that is dedicated to gender equality in the workplace. She highlights positive initiatives, and talks to leaders and experts who are contributing to bridging the gender equality gap in the workplace. I find her blog being thought-provoking and full of hope .
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Have a vision! It seems like an obvious one, but over the years I underestimated the power of having a sense of purpose. I had to work my way out of some insecurities and let go of a lot of my fears to allow myself to have hopes and dreams. I start every project with the big picture in mind and this is a game-changer!
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2022 so far?
One campaign that I loved this year was the “gender pay gap” bot on International Women’s Day (IWD). By launching this tool on the key date of March 8, and a few weeks before the gender pay reporting deadline, Francesca Lawson, the creator behind the bot, raised awareness of the issue, bringing it to the mainstream. The goal of this campaign was to highlight the hypocrisy of businesses and what we could call ‘gender equality washing’. The outcome was successful as businesses started to delete their tweets promoting IWD on that day.
Despite the dramatic fail of the Tory Government this year, I am picking a less-significant, but extremely well-covered PR nightmare that dominated the news for weeks: the Oscars slap. It was painful to watch and the aftermath was brutal for Will Smith and his PR team, but it did create an interesting series of debates around the power of words and when violence is / isn’t acceptable.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Hiring people from under-represented communities into leadership positions. There is still a gap between intention and action in this space and there are activities and processes that can be implemented to make sure there is a diverse pool of talent that the industry is tapping into. It is down to leaders to integrate diversity into all aspects and levels of their businesses as opposed to less meaningful add-ons just to hit targets.
Offering entry-level roles is often the only opportunity available to tackle a more diverse workforce. I believe that it’s key to offer progression opportunities for minority groups.
Connect with Shamina Peerboccus on LinkedIn.