We interview CIPR International's new chair
Before getting on to your plans for this year, perhaps you could tell us a bit more about your career. What drove you to enter the world of communications and what has your experience been?
I was always interested in the intersection between communications, politics and business, which led me first to work in a number of governmental institutions from the UK House of Commons, to the US Congress and the European Parliament. I then moved into the world of European public affairs and then into international PR and communication agencies. I think that my very diverse experience of work across Europe, the US and Africa gives me an interesting perspective on how public relations works in practice.
What brought you to Mauritius? What’s it like working there?
I moved to Mauritius from Belgium together with my Mauritian husband and three children as we were seeking a better quality of life in the sun! As a small island, Mauritius is a tightly-knit community where everyone knows everyone, and is related to everyone else. It can make for a very harmonious working environment and one where ‘word of mouth’ recommendations for PR services can be very helpful in building your business.
What is your current role? Do you specialise in any particular PR areas?)
In Mauritius I run my own PR and publishing agency called Perpetual Motion, which specialises in the financial services and technology sectors for government, institutional and private sector players. I am particularly focused on crisis communications and reputation management, investment promotion and media relations, as well as content creation for magazines, websites and social media.
I also have a strong focus on promoting opportunities in Africa, and I run a pan-African news portal called www.platformafrica.com, which has followers from over 50 African countries, and which seeks to promote finance, investment and entrepreneurship, including women entrepreneurs.
You joined CIPR in 2018. What attracted you to CIPR, given that you are based in Mauritius, and how has it helped your career?
I was attracted to CIPR as I was conscious that the PR industry was in a phase of evolution, particularly on the digital side even before COVID hit. While I had by then worked in communications for almost two decades, I had never studied PR in a formal sense, even if I had been involved in various agency trainings, and I was curious to know what I might be missing out on in terms of industry best practice.
Working with both the public and private sectors in Mauritius, it also became apparent to me that Mauritians are very focused on education and training, including those working in the PR community, and I considered that there would be a significant opportunity for CIPR to set up a network here. I therefore founded the CIPR Mauritius network with a launch event in March 2019, with the support of the CIPR International Committee, which was very well attended and which led to professionals across all levels signing up as members.
I believe that my membership of CIPR has played a vital role in helping me to update my skills and knowledge and to discover new areas beyond the scope of my own work experience, such as change communication and branding, for example. I think that the CPD system provides an excellent opportunity for PR professionals to build their skills and knowledge and to reach the level of accredited practitioner, which I have achieved myself, and which paves the way for professionals to apply for the online assessment to become a chartered PR practitioner. The fact the chartership assessment can now be completed online means that PR professionals across the globe have an equal chance to achieve this status, as the hallmark of professional excellence.
Let’s move on to CIPR International now. What is your vision for the group and its members and what specific plans do you have for this year?
I am delighted to say that CIPR International now has a very diverse committee, with new members from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East, and I believe that this will help us to broaden our international appeal and scope of activities. I am keen to launch a new series of online events covering different areas of PR practice and which also provide insights on doing PR in different parts of the world.
I am also very keen to engage with all international members to hear their thoughts and ideas, and we hope that they will participate in our events and also contribute their content to our work. We will also be looking to build new collaborations with different international networks and associations to extend our reach in various parts of the world.
How can international members get involved?
Get in touch! You can contact us through our website, engage with us on social media, participate in our events, or you can contact me on LinkedIn, for example. If you are interested in setting up a local network, or organising events, we would be happy to hear from you and to see how we can help.
Finally, for those members who are starting in their career, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Be bold. I am a strong believer in ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’. If there is a particular person or organisation that inspires you, get in touch and tell them why. Ask how you can help and be involved. This is not only applies in the PR ‘professional’ sphere but also to community activities for example. In my own case, I would also have joined CIPR many years earlier than I did to take advantage of opportunities to expand my knowledge and expertise.
If I was starting my career now, in 2022, I would also polish my social media profiles as much as possible, and make the most of online networking, which has increased exponentially in the COVID era, as this can lead to new contacts and professional opportunities. You literally have nothing to lose when starting out, so be creative, enthusiastic, engaging and you will have every chance to make it!