In our new Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.

This week, for the first Q&A in the series, we chat to Nevashnee Naicker, head of corporate communications at mining giant Anglo American based in Johannesburg and one of the recipients of the PRovoke Media Outstanding Individual Achievement award at the SABRE Awards EMEA in Frankfurt last week. 

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?

Business will face more complexity and noise, not less. What we need is discernment: influencing organisational strategy so business remains relevant in society - while advancing its commercial/growth agenda. The opportunity lies in the pace of innovation to drive cut-through penetration – including understanding the role of AI and tacking disinformation.

What’s the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why? for its temporary housing for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. While using their convening power within the sector to mobilise partners, the viral social media campaign attracted participation from thousands of ordinary people, dramatically deepening its impact. Really inspiring to witness the power and potential that credible cause-related PR has.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

Novel community engagement approaches. I love our WhatsApp for Communities work (launching soon) because it’s responsive, localised, relevant and tangibly demonstrates our purpose, shaping the strategic platform to leverage our decarbonisation agenda and future-enabling role. This helps position how mining can be on the leading-edge of climate action conversations.

What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?

That being myself is the best gift I can give; that my ability to be vulnerable goes hand-in-hand with my ability to be brave; and that I love delivering through others more than I realised. 

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

I meditate and journal every day; dance like no-one’s watching; find silly reasons to laugh (I’m known for deep, shrieking, tears-running-down-the-face laughter). When I need a serious timeout, I get out into the bush as much as I can.  Most of all, my family keeps me grounded.

What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

Simon’s Sinek’s ‘The Infinite Game’ keeps me mindful of the implications of what we do, and what we’re ultimately playing for when building progressive, agile and enduring brands. I love Brené Brown’s podcasts - the digital mindset is great for reflecting on some of the changes we’re going to confront.  

If I wasn’t working in PR/comms I would be…

A counselling psychologist focused on integrative healing. There’s a lot of pain and suffering, depression and anxiety all around us, so contributing toward holistic wellbeing would be meaningful for me. (Also, a telenovela-type actress or a struggling comedian!)