The Millennial’s Corner with Miss Amofa: Building a PR business: the Faith Senam Ocloo story

Photo: Nana Akua Frimpomaa Amofa

Accra-based Fashion PR Specialist, Faith Senam Ocloo founded E’April Public Relations in 2012, a boutique PR firm with the objective of developing and executing PR and brand strategies for emerging and established brands within the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry.

Knowing the potential of the fashion industry and the role PR can play in it, she realized the need for many of these businesses to include public relations in their overall brand development strategies in order to build successful brands. This informed her decision to start a career in Fashion PR.

Faith is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow through PR campaigns, strategic partnerships and digital PR. She loves to be part of the growth process by focusing on managing brand’s positioning and developing strategies that will create awareness and increase brand knowledge.

Since starting out, she has spearheaded successful PR campaigns for businesses and consulted on strategy, media relations and brand communications all geared towards garnering the right attention, trust and improving relationships with key stakeholders.

She has worked on several campaigns for brands like Selinabeb, Adubea Jensen, Ghana Menswear Week (formerly Accra Men’s Fashion Week), Horseman Shoes, Pure Persona by Nana, So Aesthetics, Nadrey Laurent, Evangel Magazine amongst others.

With over eight years of experience, Faith (FSO) recounts her journey on the Millennial’s Corner.

Miss Amofa: At what point did you decide to quit your 9 to 5 and focus on building a business?

FSO: I have always had a keen interest in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. After graduating from the university, I wanted to make an impact in whichever industry I would find myself in. I wanted a job in PR so badly though I was working as a cashier in a telecommunications company but luck wasn’t on my side.

After many unsuccessful applications, I left my full-time job to start freelancing as a Fashion Publicist for fashion brands on pro bono – having realised there was potential in that industry. I was later offered a job opportunity at one of the top PR agencies in Ghana and I was there for about 19 months but I still felt that wasn’t the place for me as I wanted to leave to continue my work in fashion PR. In 2016, I finally made the decision to build a business in fashion PR to cater to the needs of fashion, beauty and lifestyle practitioners and I haven’t looked back since.

Miss Amofa: Why did you decide to build a business in PR?

FSO: I hold a degree in strategic communications with a major in PR and Advertising. So, as you can see, it was the obvious career choice for me after school. The goal had always been to set up my own business. Thus, after gaining some needed skills having worked with a PR agency, I knew it was time to start.

Miss Amofa: Starting a business can be daunting. Were there any hesitations that initially discouraged you from pursuing your dream?

FSO: It’s very normal to have doubts and hesitations about starting anything new. In my case, it was a tough decision because there wasn’t any blueprint for me to use when I started in 2012. Fashion PR wasn’t heard of in Ghana – much less being able to pay you well enough. But in all, I took a bold step to start and had the patience to nurture it into a viable business. Currently, we have 4 clients and I have managed PR for other established and emerging brands.

Miss Amofa: What were some of the challenges you encountered when you started E’April Public Relations? How did you handle those difficulties?

FSO: My major challenge starting out was convincing or selling the idea of the relevance of public relations to potential clients in the fashion industry since most believed it is only for corporate bodies with big budgets.

Miss Amofa: Do you remember your first pitch? How did it go?

FSO: Yes. My first pitch was writing a press release for my friend who was a menswear designer. I developed the concept and scouted for a photographer and model. After that, I pitched it to some of the leading online portals to publish. Interestingly, they did and I still see those images online being copied and used by other designers.

Miss Amofa: You have worked with some big brands in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry. How did you position yourself to become a leader in your industry?

FSO: Over the years, I have built capacity working with some of the most respected companies in the country which served as a springboard for me. That, coupled with constant learning, consistency, research and the quality of work I had done with brands since starting out earned me recommendations. This pivoted to speaking engagements, master classes and of course, networking – which can never be down played.

Miss Amofa: What are some of the challenges you have encountered in your career so far?

FSO: I started out very young in my career at the time. As such, I had to learn quickly and adapt faster. This also meant I was handling every aspect of the business by myself, until a few months ago when I hired an assistant. Now, work is much easier and hopefully we are able to sign up more clients.

Miss Amofa: How have you been able to pivot your business amidst COVID-19?

FSO: For us at E’april PR, planning has always been key. That is always the hallmark of PR practitioners. Nonetheless, we still could not have imagined something like COVID could have happened. However, because we had been distinct with the brands we work with, we got new clients during this period who are now realizing the importance of PR to their business. So our ability to help our clients communicate creatively, briefly and very excitingly has been a good strategy.

Miss Amofa: Why did you decide to start Women in PR Ghana Summit?

FSO: Women in PR Ghana was birthed out of my desire to connect with fellow women and professionals within the PR industry. Since that wasn’t readily available to me at the time, I decided to establish that community and networking platform that will enable me and many others learn, share and guide each other.

Through this, we decided to launch our annual Women in PR Ghana Summit in 2017 which has attracted over 600 participants in the last four years, and continues to become a resourceful platform for both students and professionals to connect, share and build.

Miss Amofa: You organized a PR Masterclass last year. What was the idea behind it?

FSO: I found that a lot of brands were beginning to ask questions about PR and what it can do for their business. They needed to understand it. Some also followed our work and the resources we share on our social media platform and were interested in using PR, but could not afford it.

Hence, I decided to have a masterclass to teach brand owners more about PR and its function in building their brands and how they themselves can apply it in small ways until they are in a position to hire a professional. We had amazing feedback and hoped to bring it back this year, but due to COVID, we’ve had to re-strategize.

Miss Amofa: The fashion & beauty industry in Ghana & Africa has grown over the years. What do you think are the future prospects for the industry?

FSO: I believe the future of fashion worldwide is in Africa. We are blessed with a lot of talent and resources as a country and continent as a whole. In my opinion, we lacked packaging, aside being authentic in telling our stories as Africans through the products we produce. However, I believe we have realised people are always interested in unique stories and the importance of all these other elements. The world is finally paying attention to us and recognizing what we bring to the table. So for me, our prospects are endless.

Miss Amofa: What do you think fashion brands and businesses can do to position themselves to unlock such opportunities? 

FSO: Authenticity. You cannot thrive in any space if you are like every other brand out here. You need to have a signature and perfect it and create a story around it that regular people can identify with and connect to.

Miss Amofa: Any advice for other young people who want to start up their own businesses in Ghana?

FSO: Be clear on why you want to start the business in the first place. Don’t just start a business because everyone is doing so. Identify a gap which is in line with your interest. Do lots of research and be credible in your dealings. Integrity is key and worth more than money.  Be prepared to have little to zero social life and for a lonely journey. You may lose friends and money but when you are sure in your gut that this is your calling, all the hard work, long nights and tears would be worth it.

>>>Nana Akua Frimpomaa Amofa is a Writer and Creative Lead of Scripted Impressions, a creative consulting agency that helps individuals and brands tell their stories. She works as Senior Editor at El-Evangel Publications. Her work involves content development, strategy and review of publications. She’s also part of the review team of My Story Magazine, an entrepreneurial resource magazine. Connect with Nana Akua via Instagram/Twitter: @missamofa, LinkedIn: Nana Akua Frimpomaa Amofa, Email: [email protected]

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