The commsHERO Women from across the Globe

The summer we became famous

From having the pleasure of listening to Asif Choudry share the commsHERO story as a guest speaker in March to representing Leeds Beckett University at the 2023 commsHERO event in September, it has been a rollercoaster.

While we had plans for summer, (must mention dissertation here to keep our tutors happy) none of these plans involved becoming famous overnight or sharing our student stories as guest speakers at a popular public relations and communication event.

Over the summer, we received an email from Teela Clayton, asking us if we would be interested in speaking at the commsHERO conference in Manchester.

Of course, the answer was a resounding YES.

After all, what could be a better ending to a long (and unexpectedly hot) summer in the UK than donning our capes and mingling with Comms Heroes?

The Countdown

As summer screeched to a halt, we began looking forward to experiencing our first interaction as guest speakers, despite minimal experience in the Public Relations and Communication industry.

Remember how jittery you felt about your first speaking engagement? Well just for context our group, comprised of Riya Singh, Mercy Okusun, Prutha Rupareliya, Mayowa Adekoya, and Carla Peniston, are all postgraduate students in Public Relations and Strategic Communication at the Leeds Business School (Leeds Beckett University) who have barely even held a microphone before.

Our brief was to talk about our academic journey; our trek from different parts of the world to study PR and Communications in Leeds. During the sessions throughout the day, we enjoyed interacting with the senior comms leaders and learning from creative heads including – Helen Reynolds, Jenni Field, Steve Hayes, and Dom Dwight (Watch how Dom made everyone laugh our hearts out with this Yorkshire Tea ad mention!)

Now, that’s what we call turning theory into practice.

The Panel Session – The Floor is Lava

As our talk fast approached, we could almost feel the sweat trickling down our spines as we thought about stepping onto that stage in front of a huge crowd of practitioners.

But any inhibitions we had took a backseat, thanks to inspiration from Hel Reynolds, the colourful Chief at Creative Comms: “Constraints aren’t problems, they’re gifts.” Our discussion focused on how post-pandemic study has changed, with collaborative technology driving how we learn. From significant issues in the industry, to why we decided to go for a postgrad degree in the UK, and of course, the next moves for networking, now that Twitter has undergone a bit of an identity shift, we shared our perspectives of the industry through a student lens. Any remaining nerves, soon transitioned to excitement as the audience had a chuckle at our mutual *adoration for Elon Musk.

The thrill of being on stage in the end made way for networking opportunities as many of the industry professionals who attended the event, stayed on after the inaugural commsHERO awards  to socialise, which was pleasing for the group to see as we continued to make further connections in the industry.

We’ve returned to Leeds Beckett University, proud #CommsHero types, to share the experience with our wel jel peers. But we have to thank Teela, our lecturer, who encouraged us to not be worried about choking on stage. To the CommsHero team for producing the event of our dreams, and everyone in the audience who cheered for us and made us feel welcome, and also to those who came up to us with their warm and affirming words. You are the true heroes!

Now, all five of us are motivated to make a mark in our beloved industry and be a part of more CommsHero celebrations.

And if you are reading this, wondering whether to put yourself forward for a speaking opp, maybe even at next year’s Comms Hero event, we have just one thing to say to you.

Dare to Fail.

*Yes, we truly adore him and his decision to turn Twitter into our favourite (e)X.