“PR star” wants to boost BAME representation in public relations

Naomi MG Smith says her time at Coventry University gave her the skills, experience and confidence to enter public relations later on

A former Coventry University student who joined through Clearing has been named on PRWeek’s 30 under 30 list, where she is keen to encourage more BAME talent to join the public relations sector.

Naomi MG Smith credits her time at Coventry University as the reason she was able to build her confidence and join the Public Relations industry. After graduating with her degree in Business Management, she landed her first role at Goldman Sachs as a Human Resources Business Partner in Human Capital Management. Following this, she transitioned into the PR sector in 2018.

Now working as an Account Executive at public sector communications agency, Westco Communications, she is keen to reassure university applicants that Clearing can be a platform for a successful career.

Her PRWeek recognition is due to her work for the communications firm where she oversaw a COVID-19 Local Authority vaccine campaign that helped reduce disinformation and encourage uptake in vulnerable communities. A diversity and inclusion advisory role within Westminster City Council, CIPR Council work, and her former role as Vice-Chair of the CIPR Knowledge Panel were also noted.

She is also an Accredited Practitioner with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the youngest member of the CIPR Council.

Commenting on her time at Coventry University, MG Smith said: “Coventry University offered me a place through Clearing, and it turned out to be the best four years of my life. I put that down to the teaching quality at the time, the industrial placement in the third year of my degree, international opportunities, and throwing myself into extra-curricular activities through Coventry University Students’ Union (CUSU).

“My lecturers and the university modules prepared me for the real world of work, but from my perspective, learning on the job on placement at Stellantis, formerly Groupe PSA, was a big game-changer. CUSU and the enrichment activities helped build who I am today. I worked my way up from Course Representative to Faculty Chair representing 5000 Business and Law undergraduate and postgraduate students. That experience and those activities enabled me to find my voice because I was quite shy when I began university.

“When I was at Coventry, I helped out with Clearing, and I spoke to people who were in the same position as I had been, helping to reassure them that it was not the end of the world. My advice would be to make the most out of your university experience, aim high when it comes to academic achievement, get involved in the Students’ Union to build your skills, and gain work experience throughout your degree.”

On the topic of diverse representation in the PR industry, she added: “According to the CIPR State of Profession, there is only 9% BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) representation in the PR industry and I would just like people who look like me to see people like me and be encouraged to join the industry.”

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