Sim is a senior account manager at Tin Man, specialising in creative consumer PR across global organisations. From experiential and influencer campaigns to managing a global press office, she has worked with many brands to bring purpose to the forefront of their comms throughout her career.
Sim is passionate about diversity and inclusion in PR and one of the leading members of the D&I pillar at Tin Man, driving impactful change in how it operates as an agency with processes and practices, internal comms and the recruitment process.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
Crisp-loving Punjabi-British Brummie
How did you get into PR/communications?
Like many PR pros, I started out with the dream of being a journalist but got stuck in the cycle of needing a job to get experience but experience to get a job. *Shout out to my mum for taking 16-year-old me around media houses in Birmingham with a printed CV and chocolates*.
[Ed.: Yay to Sim’s mum!]
I then stumbled into a Press Intern role at university after being told PR is “kind of similar to journalism” (ha), and never looked back. Fast forward through a few more internships, working in an agency on a farm and finally making it out to London, here we are.
What do you love about your job?
Comms is a people industry and I love working with people. I consider myself to be emphatic and this is a strength when speaking to colleagues, journalists, clients, even suppliers. Working with my team and being able to nurture talent coming through the door is something I take real pride in. Aside from that, at the risk of sounding cringe, the variety, the creativity, and all of the fun along the way.
What are you most proud of?
Every single one of the decisions I’ve made to bring me to this point in my life and the resilience not to give up. If you told my 18-year-old self this is where she’d be in 10 years, she’d be pretty damn proud.
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
Learning to say no and challenging authority. Growing up in an Indian household, I was raised to believe I should always agree with elders or those in perceived authority positions – challenging their opinions did not end well (IYKYK).
As I’ve progressed in my career, this has made it personally difficult to say no to people, whether clients or managers, but as I’ve grown in confidence, I’m now much more comfortable challenging different opinions and making sure I’m heard. It’s definitely been an important lesson to learn and one I’m still working to master.
Who are your favourite people in PR and why?
My favourite person in PR has to be one of the strongest women I know, Rebecca Cousins. Not only did she become my unofficial mentor after being my line manager in my first ever PR role in Derbyshire, but she taught me all of the basic foundations of comms and has been a huge support throughout my career ever since. PRs that become your friends? Great. PRs that become your friend and your life coach? Even better.
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
The ability to adapt. We work in such a fast-paced industry where no two days are the same, so being nimble and staying responsive to the ever-changing landscape is an absolute must. Whether client needs, the media agenda, cultural trends, social media platforms – the list is endless – so we have to be agile to be able to stay ahead of the curve.
What is your favourite social network and why?
Threads? Ha, we’ll see how that pans out. But for me, it’s X, formally Twitter. It’s one of the OG platforms that covers everything from news, industry updates, memes, viral trends and just general lols.
It also helps to form public opinion and has been the driver for some of the most impactful social movements of our time. It’s really showcased the power that social media can have to amplify marginalised voices and affect real change.
Of course, don’t think this is a love letter to Elon Musk, the platform also breeds hate, misinformation and toxic behaviour with a lack of accountability, but that’s probably a conversation for another day…
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
*gulp* – confession time? I’m not big on podcasts. However, the only one I listen to without fail is The Receipts Podcast. Pure entertainment and laughs. If you’ve had a bad day and want to indulge in something that has absolutely nothing remotely to do with work, have a listen.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
Let this be a shout out to Chioma Nnadi, the newly announced editor of British Vogue. This born and raised Londoner has been an editor and writer her whole career and has proudly advocated for more diversity in fashion. I’m so looking forward to seeing the work she does to increase the visibility of ethnic minorities in British Vogue and the wider fashion industry.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You can’t control everything so don’t try – just prepare for any outcome. Rings true in both professional and personal life and it’s something I always try to remember when hit with curveballs, especially when activating tricky PR campaigns…
Biggest PR campaign fail and yay of 2023 so far?
YAY – Can we really talk about PR wins of this year without mentioning Barbie? I won’t labour the point as we all saw Barbie-Mania sweep across the world, but this was a truly integrated launch campaign, with activity tapping into social, partnerships, OOH, retail, long-form content – the list goes on.
My personal favourite aspects of the activity were the AI selfie generator that went viral across social media platforms and the partnership with Airbnb to give away free stays in the real human-sized Barbie Dream House in Malibu. Effectively tapping into target audiences and driving Gen Zs back to the cinema.
NAY – This one isn’t quite a singular campaign, but I was surprised to see a lack of brand engagement with South Asian Heritage Month this year. While my peers were proudly vocal in celebrating the awareness month, many organisations were remarkably quiet on the matter, and I only saw PR and marketing activity from smaller, more regionally focused brands.
As BHM and Pride Month over the past few years have seen many global organisations keen to implement meaningful policies to support with some of the challenges that these groups face, it was slightly disappointing to see very little concerted effort towards a month that celebrates my own people. While brands have to ensure their comms around cultural awareness days is meaningful, South Asians make up a huge part of the UK and its culture, so hopefully next year we’ll see more visibility.
Finally, on the D’ word… What can the sector do to encourage diversity?
Retention. Less tokenism and more meaningful change once employees are through the door. Understand that our backgrounds are different to those who have traditionally worked in PR roles up to this point and embrace the differing perspectives that we offer because of it.
I think there’s still so much more work to do. Encouraging diversity is one thing, but we also need to educate our non-diverse counterparts on all of the facets of D&I. We need to have real conversations to replace assumption with curiosity and grow from the lived experiences of others.
Connect with Sim Devgun on LinkedIn.
Sim was awarded a place on The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros. She is part of the class of 2024.