Alex Kolawole

We caught up with TBF alumni Alex Kolawole, who recently got promoted to Associate Director at APCO Worldwide. 

Where did you go to university?
This feels like years ago – I studied Journalism at the University of Brighton and I graduated in 2012. My dream was to be a broadcast journalist on Sky Sports News, reporting on football across the world.

What did you do afterwards?
Following graduation, I started applying for roles at various broadcast companies and national newspapers. These roles were mostly internship and graduate programmes that would give me my first entry level role. Things were tough but I persevered – thanks to some encouraging words from family and friends.

Did you always know you wanted to work in PR?
My honest answer is I had never heard of PR as a profession. My first introduction to PR was from a module I studied during my final year at University titled – “Introduction to PR.”

I knew I had an interest in storytelling, so PR seemed like a natural fit. I decided to broaden my job search to include entry level PR roles.

How did you hear about the Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF)?
Through the power of social media. After a long day of job applications, I took a break to flick through Twitter and I stumbled upon a Taylor Bennett Foundation advert which was tweeted by a job search company. I followed this link to the Taylor Bennett Foundation, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me.

What year did you take part in our programme? Who was it sponsored by?
I was on the 2013 Taylor Bennett Foundation programme sponsored by Finsbury. The programme opened doors for me and was my first step in to PR.

What was the highlight of your time on the TBF programme?
The highlight of my programme was a visit to Buckingham Palace to meet the communications team. We held our meeting in one of the largest rooms in the Palace. It was a great experience and it was interesting to learn about the activities of the royal communications team.

Were you able to put into practice what you learnt on the PR Training programme?
The PR training programme helped me understand the basic skills required to succeed in a PR role. I have been able to apply my skills accordingly but, more importantly, the training programme gave me the confidence that is required to perform in the PR industry.

Tell me about your current role.
I currently work in a corporate communications agency with a role focused on storytelling. In my day-to-day role, I advise and create strategies to help my clients meet their communications objectives. I do this through earned and paid media communications channels.

My favourite thing about my role is the variety. I do not focus on a specific sector or communications discipline. I also help businesses shape their communications strategy to help them make a strong impact in society which is rewarding.

Are there any challenges? If so, how do you combat them?
This is not a cliché, but the biggest challenge is self-doubt and fear of failing. This has been my experience. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail or make a mistake but there is no exact science to communications – there is a lot of opportunity to express yourself. I overcome my challenges by holding on to my faith and ensure I approach every challenge with a positive mindset.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?
Be very hungry to learn and succeed despite the obstacles thrown at you (there will be challenges to overcome). Learn from people ahead of you and be nice – good relationships will take you very far.

What do you think the industry can do to encourage more diversity?
There should be a focused effort to encourage clients and agency leaders to drive more diversity within their teams. For example, diversity should be considered in “Best agency workplace” awards.