KeJuan Wilkins | Influence 100

KeJuan Wilkins

Chief Communications Officer



Seventeen-year Nike veteran KeJuan Wilkins was named chief communications officer of the sportswear giant earlier this year, after previously leading global corporate, consumer and employee communications. Succeeding 24-year veteran Nigel Powell, Wilkins has some reasonable sized running shoes to fill, at a company that is no stranger to tackling complex communications challenges.

Wilkins brings considerable experience to the role, from a career that spans Nike, Reebok and the New York Knicks. Like Powell, who convinced Nike to keep Colin Kaepernick, Wilkins has also navigated controversial situations with aplomb — most notably when he led communications around Nike’s decision to cut ties with South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, and also when the company stopped producing Livestrong products during Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?

I have the privilege to work at a company where I see the direct impact our communications team, which sits across Nike, Jordan, and Converse, on the business daily. I think it is important that companies not measure the value of communications solely through singular, linear moments that have an endpoint. The value of communications comes when it works as a dynamic, interactive, multi-directional asset that continuously contributes to and elevates an organization's performance upstream and downstream.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?

There is an opportunity for the communications industry to close the gap between its intentions and actions regarding having a more diverse and inclusive profession. A premium is placed on strategic communications each year, particularly when navigating complex social, geo and economic dynamics. So, to truly deliver on that need, the industry will need to better represent the societies in which we live. In addition, there is an opportunity to extend the aperture so that more curious and creative talent are inspired to become part of the future of the communications industry. However, that will require the industry to challenge itself to be innovative, nimble, agile and faster than the pace of change around the industry.

What have you most admired about the communications industry over the past year, and what has disappointed you? 

I have enjoyed seeing how the communications industry has looked to embrace new technologies despite many unanswered questions about the long-term impact of some technologies. However, with the real threat of disinformation and misinformation, the communications industry must understand the usage of these new technologies and platforms while simultaneously understanding the importance of building and sustaining trust with audiences. I am disappointed whenever I see communication practices that are talking at people instead of creating a connection for people to feel something they can relate to. For there to be conditions to build trust, the industry will need to evolve to become better storytellers.

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

I work alongside some of the most talented communicators in the world. Every day I am proud of the work of the team. Their commitment and dedication to using Nike’s voice to fall in love with sport is truly moving.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?

I like to spend time with my family or workout to switch off from work. If I’m not doing that, I usually read, watch sports, or DJ.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?

Mem Fox’s ‘Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes’.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...

A documentary filmmaker.