Behind the Headlines with Bauer Media’s Effie Kanyua

Effie Kanyua, comms director for London Lifestyle at Bauer Media, on how she battled her way into the BBC to launch her media career, the best creative partnership she’s worked on, which featured Craig David, helping to lobby for fair rent and gender pay equality and why she thinks journalists can smell fear in a pitch.

EffieKanyua Bauer Media 1

Effie Kanyua

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Gone through my emails and checked what our magazine brands have been up to, which is the part of the business that I look after (our current portfolio includes 94 magazines). Our brands across magazines, radio and digital are hugely influential and reach over 25 million UK consumers, so I have to constantly keep on top of what our brands are saying, doing and how they are being talked about in the media.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
The types of emails I get are varied. We run a busy ongoing press office, and also have key campaigns and events, which I focus on. My next big event, which is really exciting, is called Empire Live, from EMPIRE – the world’s biggest  film magazine. It’s going to be the ultimate film and entertainment weekend taking place at The O2 from 23 to 25 September.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
I’ve managed to touch in with most of my brands. We get daily requests for our editorial teams, who are experts in their fields, to comment on key stories across the media. Last week I was filming a piece for heat magazine to comment on a current big topical entertainment story, Grazia is often asked to give its views on key women’s issues or on fashion stories, Mojo and Q are always the first port of call for music related stories, and our award-winning team at The Debrief are called upon to give Millennial insights (their recent Make Renting Fair campaign has meant that the team has been kept busy proactively lobbying MPs to revise the law, with great success).

My first job was…
In media, working for the BBC. I bombarded them for four years, getting as much work experience as I could before I made it in. I actually got my ‘in’ through an admin role in the legal and business team and volunteered for everything that I could to get PR and broadcast experience. After two years, I landed my dream job as a broadcast journalist.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
My friends within PR, or people within the industry, comment on the good work that we do, and when our brands make a tangible difference.

Grazia recently launched its first real time community issue, created and built exclusively by the Facebook community via Grazia’s Facebook page. The team produced the issue from Facebook’s London HQ and readers got the chance to help shape and edit the magazine. We had a really successful interactive Brexit debate with leading politicians being quizzed by our readers and Craig David dropped in for a live music session, which had 344,000 views. The audience engagement was phenomenal and it was one of the best creative partnerships that I’ve ever worked on on.

Over the week we saw over 867,000 video views with a reach of over 7.3 million. The team was also responsible for lobbying politicians to address the issue of gender pay equality with the influential and successful ‘Mind the pay gap’ campaign – Grazia played a central role in changing a law that paves the way for equal pay for women in the UK. The law is expected to come into play later this year.

I eat….when nobody is watching.
Chocolate…M+Ms are my weakness, particularly the peanut butter ones. I brought back three family packs for my colleagues from New York…and then ate most of them.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I was scared to death. It was a survey sell-in, and trying to cram my pitch into 30 seconds before the phone got dropped on me was the most nerve-racking thing ever. I think journalists could smell my fear so they let me rattle on before they used the deadly phrase: “Sorry I don’t think it’s one for us unfortunately.”

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
I think as a PR you develop a thick skin, I tend to take stuff on the chin. Hearing that your story doesn’t work, I think, spurs you on to do better. I’m one of those annoying people that if someone says “no” or “you can’t do something”, then it makes me more determined to find a solution until they say yes.

The last book I read was…
My boss (Anne-Marie Lavan, group marketing director at Bauer Media) has been inspiring me to broaden my reading repertoire and suggested that I read Douglas Kennedy, so I’m reading The Big Picture and I have a couple of his other books to get through this summer.

I’ve never really understood why…
People do jobs that they don’t love. A lot of my friends work in the city and hate it. I’d rather be paid less and do what I truly love than be paid a lot and do what I hate…life’s too short!

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
“You might want to rethink your career choice.” I was stuck on becoming an astronaut or a fighter pilot despite suffering from vertigo and not really liking planes. I actually wrote my first play aged ten, so I think I was always going to end up working in the media industry somehow – once I’d realised that I was not destined to be in space!

This time next year, I’ll be…
Hopefully at a music festival. I LOVE music and a lot of our brands across radio and magazines work with some great festivals, so I’ve been really lucky to go to some great ones. My favourite ones to date are: Kendall Calling, which I’m going back to this year and one in Berlin in September called Lollapalooza. So this time next year I hope to be dry (!) in a field, with a drink in my hand, enjoying good music!

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