How Visa Europe’s Eleanor Orebi Gann chose PR over prison ...

PR has a computer quiz to thank for bringing Eleanor Orebi Gann into the industry, as she explains: “I went into communications thanks to a rather erratic software programme that claimed to analyse character types. It gave me two options: public relations or prison warden. It was a hard choice; but here I am.”

Orebi Gann is now head of tech and business PR at Visa, where she has worked for three years, after more than a decade in the agency world. Discussing why she chose Visa, Orebi Gann says: “I’m a technology PRO at heart, and seeing the way that technology changes and influences businesses like Visa is both fascinating and inspirational. It’s also given me an incredible insight into the workings of a corporate entity, to an extent that I think it can be hard to get in an agency, no matter how close a relationship you have with your client.

“Our business strategy is all about partnerships, which means my job involves a lot of collaboration and negotiation. Some of the most exciting things I’ve worked on in the last three years have been partnership-led, including the launch of the Olympic mobile payments showcase with Samsung; the digital wallet; and our partnerships with Vodafone and Telefonica.”

Since being in her role, Orebi Gann has enjoyed working on Visa’s PR strategy, and she explains that as new payment technologies have become more mainstream, Visa’s communications approach has evolved to engage more directly with the consumer than it has done in the past. “Visa offers all its services through its member banks, so direct consumer PR is relatively new for us. It’s exciting for me to be at the forefront of that kind of change; I love having the opportunity to convince my business stakeholders of the benefits and opportunities that come from new communications channels and ideas.”

Like any job, life isn’t always a bed of roses, admits Orebi Gann, adding: “We’re a small in-house team looking after a lot of different countries, which means we’re under a lot of pressure all the time. We have to pick and choose our work to make sure we’re responding as effectively as we can to business priorities. We also have to make sure we’re empowering our agencies to move quickly when we’re not able to ourselves. I’m sure they’d tell you the same thing: sometimes what looks like a simple question from the outside can take us a lot of time to answer!”

Orebi Gann appreciates that it is important for people starting out in PR today to find a role that suits them, and describes her first career break as being her third job, at PR agency Hotwire. “I joined as a programme manager and stayed for six years to become a director of the UK business. I worked with some fantastic people and some great clients, many of whom I’m still in touch with. Without the experience I gained there, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

For people starting out in PR, Orebi Gann has two pieces of advice: “First of all, remember that coverage isn’t the end game. It’s not about how many articles you can get or how many calls you make. Understanding your client’s business objectives – in other words, where the comms objectives have come from – is incredibly valuable. For me, one article read by the right customer is much more valuable than half a dozen read by people who aren’t that interested. A lot of what we do comes down to that old question: how are you measuring success? What are you really achieving with your comms, and how are you going to show your client?"

“And second, take your clients for lunch once in a while. Seriously, we really like it.”

Eleanor Orebi Gann, Head of tech and business PR, Visa Europe

Creative Moment Awards 2020