Name: Chimere Cisse
Job title: Global PR & Strategic Communications Manager,
How would you describe your current role?
I have a hybrid role across our corporate and consumer PR teams, developing communication strategies that help shape our media narrative – whether through regional PR, working with talent or partner organisations.
How would your current or past colleagues describe you?
Determined, energetic, and kind (I hope)
What roles make up the company or, what role are you currently in?
Global PR & Strategic Communications Manager,
Describe a typical working day for you?
There are very few ‘typical’ days in PR, however, I always start my mornings by first dissecting the news. I try to read a broad variety to better inform my decision-making and knowledge of what’s happening in our industry. Everything from the Financial Times, Business of Fashion and Fast Company to blogs and social media. My days are filled with conference calls to Asia and the Americas, meetings with our regional teams, and time spent creating presentations. Often I’ll go to Burberry’s Thomas’s cafe to meet with partner organisations over tea or catch up with talent agents in preparation for upcoming photo shoots featuring our campaign talent.
What are the perks of the job?
Being able to wear Burberry day in and out. It’s always fun dressing up for work. I am also lucky enough to attend incredible events and our twice yearly runway shows are always spectacular.
My career highlight would be…
There have been so many career highlights – from landing my first job at Hearst Magazines – which saw me manage PR for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE UK – through to curating a series of panel discussions with my favourite brands, think tanks and digital influencers at the Hoxton Hotel. Working with some of the biggest names in the industry – such as Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Benjamin Clementine and other times, simply being able to help an intern or assistant achieve their own career goals – which is thoroughly rewarding.
A mistake I made in my career, which I’m happy I learnt from, is…
It took me a long time to realise that everyone you meet in the course of your studies and career are forming your future network. They may just be the people that in five years’ time are key to you landing a coveted role or opening a door. Keep in touch with your contacts!
The most important thing I’ve learnt, which has helped my career is…
Never give up. I was once told I would never have a career in PR as I had no contacts in the UK when I first arrived to London in 2007. Thankfully I shunned that advice and took it upon myself to push doubly hard to build those contacts. If you have a goal, don’t listen to the naysayers. Just go for it! If you can dream it up, you can make it happen.
What has been your journey to get to where you are now?
My journey has seen me work for an amazingly diverse group of people and organisations, such as the Venice Arts Biennale, WPP Think Tanks through to VISA. I’ve relished the chance to explore all sides of my industry and have had a lot of fun in the process. Don’t limit yourself by sticking to your lane; look for the detours. You might discover something new and surprise yourself!
What was your biggest career break?
There have been many career breaks along the way; a former boss who took a chance on me despite my having no experience, a contact that gave me an internship at London Fashion Week fresh out of university, an old colleague who taught me how to first use Twitter in 2009… they have all laid the path to where I am today.
What does success mean to you?
I’ve always been drawn to the creative industries. Being able to use my skills to highlight the work of creatives give me great satisfaction. There are some incredible people doing really exciting work out there in the world and without good PR they may not get heard in this crowded media landscape. That’s where I come in. Firstly as a curator and then to give them a platform to be heard. I know I’ve been successful when a client gets the recognition they deserve.
What qualities do you think are essential, for working in PR and communication?
Open ears, an inquisitive personality and the ability to think outside the box.
What is the one piece of career advice you would give to someone starting out?
Be careful what you think – your thoughts are energy and energy creates our reality. Dream big! What are you waiting for?
Name some useful PR tools that you can not live without?
My phone – some would say it’s permanently attached to my hand. That’s literally it.
The best thing about working in PR is?
The experience – it’s an incredibly dynamic and fast paced industry. It can take you places you never dreamed of.
Do you have a favorite PR person? If so why?
I’ve come across some great PRs in my time working in all sorts of areas – Nadine Johnson, Mandi Lennard, Lynne Franks, Anna Gibson, Robin Invest, Penny Watson, Jessica Patterson… The ones who stand out are all super creative, hardworking, intelligent and ballsy! They have the ability to build relationships not based on what people can give to them now, but what they can one day create with that person in the future. It’s a skill that not all PRs possess.
If a PR person asks you “How can I do my job well?” what would you say to them?
Take time to foster genuine relationships – you’ll enjoy your job so much more working with people you would count as friends. Work with brands you truly admire and the selling in will take care of itself. Passion is contagious – learn the art of crafting engaging angles and stories. Gone are the days of the humble press release doing the job for you. Drive excitement!
With a hectic schedule, how do you keep beautiful inside and out?
Ha – most days that’s a struggle, I’ll be honest. But I try to make time for facials at my friend Andrea Pfeffer’s Fitzrovia salon PfefferSal and have regular osteopathic treatments at KUU London. If I’m really lucky, reconnect with nature somewhere exotic – like Byron Bay. I love making smoothies and eating green. But like most big-city workers, it’s a constant balancing act.
What are your workwear staples?
Burberry of course, peppered with a little Stella, McQueen, Phillip Lim and Donna Ida denim. I always come back from New York with a few new pieces from random LA brands and Australia has the best fashion boutiques hands down. I love wearing strangelove fragrance from Harrods – I’m obsessed with their oudh perfume oil necklaces. I also have a small obsession with gold jewellery from Istanbul.
For all our overseas readers, please tell us what is your favorite thing to do in London?
You can’t go past the Wallace Collection for a fix of art – it’s London’s best kept secret. Pop over to Chiltern Street nearby for Cire Trudon candles and the Monocle store, followed by a quick cocktail in the ‘ladder shed’ at Chiltern Firehouse. If you fancy a visit to East London you can’t go wrong on Redchurch Street. I love Monologue for Swedish blankets, AESOP for handwash and round the corner Hoi Polloi for people watching over dinner, Tow Path Cafe for coffee and Columbia Road flower market for floral therapy.
Finally, what are the top 5 items every PR Girl (or boy) should possess?
Thank you Chimere for taking the time to support PR Girl S.O.M xxx