Our Comms Spotlight for this week, Christian Nanou, transitioned into Communications after obtaining a first degree in Maritime Telecommunications Engineering. Currently, Christian is the Senior Managing Partner at CREATIVE & WORK, a creative agency in Burkina Faso. In our interview with him, Christian shares his thoughts on how to encourage collaboration between Anglophone and Francophone Africa.
How did you start your career journey in Communications?
In a very unconventional way. I graduated in Maritime Telecommunications Engineering, and I first stumbled upon the Communications profession during extracurricular activities. Later, I accepted a position at a consulting firm where they were developing an event and business lobbying department. It was there that my passion for the field grew with each event project. I decided to make a complete career change and refined my skills further by working in several consulting agencies in Africa.
What do you do as a Senior Managing Partner at CREATIVE & WORK?
As a Senior Managing Partner at CREATIVE & WORK, my role is closely related to the agency’s core business. We assist brands in developing and implementing Communications campaigns. As a Managing Partner, I am involved in all management activities and also serve as a Strategy Manager in the agency’s operations.
In addition to that, one of the agency’s flagship missions, which I personally invest a lot of effort in, is contributing to changing the current narratives about Africa. Our approach to this matter is quite unique – instead of creating content, we focus on creating a framework, targeting professionals in cross-functional roles within companies.
How do you think PR practitioners in Francophone and Anglophone Africa can collaborate to create impact across borders?
Numerous collaboration opportunities exist. Creating networks and discussion platforms is crucial. PR practitioners from different regions can form Communications networks to exchange ideas, best practices, and experiences. This will foster a better understanding of the specific challenges in each region and encourage mutual learning.
Translation and adaptation of content on both sides are also essential factors to consider. Additionally, developing cross-border campaigns would be highly beneficial. Joint campaigns involving stakeholders from both regions could address common issues or promote regional initiatives. An integrated approach would have a stronger impact and wider reach.
Can you share a campaign or project that you’ve worked on that still stands out to you?
Last May, we gathered around 50 Marketing and Communication professionals from six West African countries in Kigali for a week-long training and networking event. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet professionals from Anglophone Africa, engage in discussions, and explore potential collaboration avenues. It was an enriching experience for both of our communities.
What PR books, podcasts or resources would you recommend to any professional?
In recent years, there has been a wealth of resources available, more so in Anglophone Africa than in Francophone Africa. A few months ago, I read “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh. Although not specifically about PR, it offers valuable insights into effective communication and mindfulness that can be applied in the field.
Another book worth mentioning is, “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Holiday, which sheds light on media manipulation tactics, useful for PR professionals to understand and counter in their work. As for resources, I recommend subscribing to PRCA Africa news. The PR Power List Magazine is also an excellent resource to discover inspiring careers in the PR industry.
Recently, we appreciated the first report on Public Relations and Communications in Africa; it was long overdue. In Francophone Africa, I highly appreciate the initiatives of Naole Media, led by my friend Cyrille Djami. It offers a variety of formats (magazines, reports, discussions, podcasts…) covering all communications professions in general, with a particular focus on PR.
What advice would you give to your younger professional self?
Despite having a fairly coherent career path with clear steps, I would encourage my younger self to adopt a more Pan-African approach to our profession, by launching an inspiring media platform for Africans at an early stage.