Elizabeth

Bananuka

Founder/CEO

BME PR Pros/Blueprinted

I just wanted to create the kind of event I wanted to go to… And yeah, I know, all the speakers do have something in common. They’re all talented.

Elizabeth is a senior comms consultant and the founder of BME PR Pros which she describes as “one person’s little attempt to promote diversity in the PR and comms sector”. She developed and initially managed every aspect of the initiative in her spare time including the popular BME PR Pros / PRWeek Mentoring Scheme.

She has delivered diversity workshops for agencies; lobbied industry publications to diversify their judging panels, speakers and commentators, and in 2019 she organised the first BME PR Pros conference with speakers from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority backgrounds.

In 2020 Elizabeth launched The Blueprint diversity mark and The Pros Winter Series. In 2021 she developed and launched The Xec. leadership scheme for Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros.

Elizabeth is listed in the PRWeek PowerBook 2019, 2020 and 2021. She was also one of Provoke Media’s 15 to Watch 2020 and PRovoke Media’s Innovator 25 2021.

Favourite campaign of 2021 and why?

Not a campaign per se but I think the Strictly Come Dancing celebrity booking team have done something special this year. I still remember coming to England in the 80’s and staring at Baroness Floella Benjamin on Playschool and not quite believing it. A Black woman? On TV? It was a sight to behold. I watch Strictly and I think about all those children crowding around a telly with their families and how wonderful it is they get to see John dancing with Johannes, Rhys dancing with Nancy, Rose et al. How wonderful it is they get to see the joy that is AJ. There has been so much division in our little island over the last few years and I think the Strictly team have done a beautiful thing.

Who is your communicator of the year?

Rhammel Afflick.

Knowing how much Black people, and all ethnic minorities, are often punished for speaking up about racism my heart went out to Rhammel when he gave his reasons for stepping down from his role as Director of Comms for Pride in London. In a Medium blog he stated “Within the leadership, there is an unfortunate reluctance to accept that the liberation of LGBT+ people must be coupled with the fight against sexism, ableism, racism and other forms of unacceptable discrimination. This reluctance has been evident through a series of decisions taken by Pride in London’s leadership. These decisions are detrimental to all our communities but in particular to Black LGBT+ people.”

Rhammel had no comms team to hide behind and no brand. Just a person, with values, taking a stance. He did so publicly knowing the backlash he would undoubtedly receive, and I admire him for it. Yes, it’s incredible when a business does the right thing and adopts a meaningful antiracism stance but let’s never forget the stakes are always higher for the individuals that dare to publicly challenge and call out racism.

Rhammel deserves all the props and then some.

Person of the year?

Marcus Rashford. What a human being.

Favourite comfort food?

Mandazi. It’s a Tanzanian dough-like snack and very more-ish. I associate it with Dar Es Salaam, with first coming to this country (my mum made it a lot when we were younger) and with cooking with my late maternal grandmother. A real special childhood comfort food for me. It’s my go-to breakfast dish whenever I go back to Tanzania and my Mum still makes the best ones (never too sweet).

Film you have watched more times than any other?

Grease. In my defence it’s on pretty much every Christmas, New Year and Easter. It’s impossible to escape Greased Lightening. Or The Sound of Music.

Song you can’t resist dancing to?

Biggie’s Hypnotize. I don’t trust anyone who can.

Event you are most looking forward to in the next 12 months?

Tanzania in February. For. A. Whole. Month.