• Jane Fordham

Black Friday - Today I was Delighted to Be a Minority

I have been excited about today for a while. No not about the omnipresent shopping event but looking forward to the first conference from the brilliant BME PR PROs. I am writing this travelling back from the ‘Comms in a Post-Mainstream World’ event with a full head and itchy fingers. The event was an embarrassment of riches in terms of brilliantly curated content and world-class speakers. For some sessions I just sat back and had my mind blown, or clutched my sides. Therefore, this copy in no way represents all the incredible insights and ideas however for all the folk not fortunate enough to have bagged a hot ticket, here are some of my best bits;

‘Is PR too old school for the new school?’ I arrived as this first panel was kicking off.

o Lang Xiao, ARTouch Consulting painted quite a dramatic picture about the always on nature of the Chinese market, “Sometimes employers fire you if you don’t reply to clients in 10 mins. WeChat is the way you do business. Basically you just have to suck it up!”

o Daljit Bhurji, Diffusion said he had had a UK client whose proposed contract had included a “will respond in 30 minutes” clause. Daljit got it changed.

o The consensus around this theme was that essentially agencies had to acknowledge the preferred channels and typical ways of working of the stakeholders within your target market. Hmmm…ish (says Fordham)

The 2nd panel, ‘Who is today’s female consumer and what do they really want?

o Today’s female consumer ‘isn’t new just evolved’ said Effie Kanyua, Hearst Media

o Tobi Oredein, Black Ballad reckons “women outside of London are being massively overlooked.” I think she’s right.

o There was a decent amount of discussion about ‘intersectionality’ of all kinds, i.e. none of us, female, male, black, white is one-dimensional.

o “What about the 40’s? Of all the briefs I see, we seem to be missing out women in their 40s. Do comms professionals leave then and so we forget to address briefs to this age group?” Articulate and impassioned, Janelle Feliciano of Weber Shandwick.

o Reference made to the work Golin and Dove did with Getty, reworking stock images to be more representative of real women.

o Anita Bhagwandas, journalist, referenced a really positive conversation she had with London-based yoga studio, Triyoga who apparently pursue a really active recruitment policy to ensure that when clients show up, they see people like them.

o Lots of chat re the recent cancelling of the infamous Victoria’s Secret runway show, contrasted with Rhianna’s work on the Fenty Savage show and the choices around who walked for them.

o ‘’When the scales of justice begin to shift, those in a privileged position claim ‘oppression’ .“ Brilliant dialogue on ‘Who is the new man?’ Humour, humility & intelligence from JJ Bola, interviewed by Dev Mistry.

And my afternoon – after I’d stepped for a call and missed a session – kicked off with an amazing trio of presenters, ‘Black Twitter – everything you didn’t know you needed to know.’ I literally learnt a tonne.

o Much reference to the volume of content developed and shared on black twitter that is not credited, essentially plagiarised e.g. Slay in Your Lane book and BBC usage of the same phrase in a piece on a black athlete

o This blew my mind (so I tweeted it) in terms of missed opportunities for marketers who aren’t taking black twitter seriously, “Black people tweet 3 x as much as their white counterparts.”

And the hits just kept on coming. Afternoon keynote from Pai Webly ‘How Channel 4 Upped Its Social Media Game!’

o 83% of people consume videos with sound off so all their videos have subtitles.

o 3 mins is the optimum time for Facebook, they are optimising longer content currently.

o They ensure every video has a strong opening. Preference for ‘evergreen content’ (not timebound e.g. Xmas)

o Develop content platform first

And as the conference drew to a close, journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed delivered a searing, fast-paced session, ‘Reporting the Truth in a Fake News World.’

o “We should do more to challenge the complexities of the news and look at the story behind the news.”

I finally met the inimitable Elizabeth Bananuka, Founder of BMR PR PROs and the reason we were all there today, someone I’ve long admired from afar. I applaud you Elizabeth, what a woman, what a movement.

I caught up with some wonderful PR friends of ‘old’ and made plenty of new ones. My Christmas book wishlist is overflowing (this is mostly good but I’ll have to forgo sleep till end of January to get through everything on it.) See you there next year?

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Jane Fordham Consulting

Stanyards Cottage, Chertsey Road



GU24 8JE​

Tel: 07500 725102


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