Tobi is British born Nigerian and grew up on the south coast of the United Kingdom.
After graduating with a degree in French and International Media with Communication Studies from the University of Nottingham, she started her career at Six Degrees – a STEM public relations agency, where she worked on a wide range of technology businesses from apps (Treatwell, wire) to cloud computing and software (Audatex, Exact, OVH), as well as the startup world (CrowdRating, Eight Roads Ventures).
Since November 2016, she has been working at Snap Inc. – the parent company behind popular messaging app Snapchat – where she is part of the team managing communication and media relations across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
In her free time, Tobi Ruth is an avid traveler and writer and is passionate about making a positive impact on the world. She is on the Emerging Leaders board of a child and youth development charity and has spent time volunteering in refugee camps in Calais.
Describe your background in 5 words max?
Nigerian, sun-chaser, adventurous, chatterbox, drastic-hair-changer (can that be one word?)
How did you get into PR/comms?
I was never one of those kids that knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I just knew I liked people and I was a chatterbox. Fast forward to university and I was taking a French and Communications degree – which pretty much ticked all the boxes.
After graduating, I joined a small STEM agency definitely thinking that PR was a potential career path, but mainly because after speaking with the Managing Director I felt culture-wise, the company was a good fit for me and I could learn a lot from her.
It was and I did ☺
What do you love about your job?
No two days are the same. Communication experts wear many, many hats – writer, counsellor, explainer, teacher, voice of reason, firefighter – each situation requires a different approach and it’s a great challenge.
What are you most proud of?
Personally? The first time a French person said “You’re English?! But you speak French like a French person!!”
It sounds ridiculous, but any language learner will tell you – it’s the absolute dream.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Giving myself a break – that regular reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day and I won’t be either.
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
I’ve got a couple but my favourite is Jennifer Janson – my ex-manager. When I first met her, I remember thinking “wow, she is super impressive”, but also simultaneously, “oh my goodness, she’s just so nice!!”. I learnt – and continue to learn – a lot from her and to this day she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders.
What is your favourite social network and why?
For me, Snapchat is where I feel free to express myself. Instagram may be for those beautiful moments, but it’s on Snapchat I talk to the closest of my friends and I share every aspect of my every day, whether the mundane or the spectacular.
(And I didn’t say that just because I work there)
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Oooooh – will forever be a fan of Behiye Hassan who used to be at Director Magazine. She was the first journalist I ever met and I felt pretty nervous, but she was a total babe and made me feel like I knew what I was doing.
More recently, Madison Marriage from the FT for that incredible piece behind the scenes at the London Presidents Club Charity Dinner and also, more light heartedly Rachel Thompson from Mashable – because she literally writes what I’m thinking sometimes (prime example).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Everything matters, but nothing matters that much.
Your favourite PR campaign/stunt of 2018 so far?
This is actually something I came across the other day. There’s a French app called ‘HandsAway’, designed to fight gender-based violence against women in the public space and on public transport. Women in France use the app to report assault and get help and support.
On IWD they started a campaign called ‘Ghost Injuries’, coined because you could be walking down any street anywhere and have no idea what has taken place there before. They put Snapchat filters all over France in specific streets and locations where attacks have been reported via their app which read, ‘[Name] was also here when she was assaulted/attacked. Today I am here and doing something about it.’
I found the concept of Ghost Injuries so clever and the use of something so fun to draw immediate attention to something so serious, really brilliant.
Why did you apply for the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme?
I think a mentor is that person you can learn a lot from and look at and think ‘I want to be like that’. Having access to someone with the professional experience but also experience of the various issues/dynamics that I have/will experience as a BME is something that I couldn’t pass up – really happy to have gotten a place.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
First of all, we need to be promoting PR as a viable and challenging career to BMEs and maybe more importantly, their families. Many parents just don’t know that there are so many options out there aside from traditional career paths and so hearing anything else but doctor/engineer/accountant is really scary.
Secondly, making sure the BMEs that are already in the industry, stay in it, grow, and be more visible. There’s something really liberating about seeing someone who looks just like you doing something incredibly – it’s like the saying, it always seems impossible until it’s done.
Tobi Ruth is a mentee on the BME PR Pros/PRWeek Mentoring Scheme. She will be mentored by Adrian Ma, founder, Fanclub.