Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah

Associate Director, Financial Services
Edelman Smithfield



“Innovation means coming up with unique and new, creative ways of doing things. This can mean a change of regular processes or creating more effective solutions and developing distinct ideas.” 

Outside of his day job at Edelman Smithfield, Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah is one of the most impressive and compelling voices in the UK on diversity and inclusion in PR, campaigning for equality for Black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals. Since 2022, he has served as vice chair of the PRCA’s Race & Ethnicity Equity Board, and earlier this year led groundbreaking research into the experiences and challenges of Black, Asian and minority ethnic men in the PR and communications industry: the frank and eye-opening Behind the Mask report. Since starting his career at Brunswick as part of the Taylor Bennett Foundation internship programme, Ofosu-Appiah has racked up an impressive corporate and financial communications résumé, including stints at Mercer, Kekst CNC, Havas and FTI Consulting. He is a board member of the London Chamber of Commerce’s Black Business Association and a committed mentor to diverse junior talent in the PR industry. At Edelman Smithfield, Ofosu-Appiah advises large financial institutions and global asset management firms on corporate reputation, strategic communications and media profile-raising, and has been praised for his strong leadership in helping clients towards their business objectives.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation means coming up with unique and new, creative ways of doing things. This can mean a change of regular processes or creating more effective solutions and developing distinct ideas. Public relations professionals can play a huge role in all of this and we must have innovation at the forefront our minds when working with our clients and key stakeholders.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
There are too many to name and I am constantly coming across amazing initiatives from both agency and in-house teams.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Edelman, of course. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
I came up with an idea and launched the PRCA's Race and Ethnicity Equity Board's ‘Behind The Mask’ report earlier this year. lt is one of the only studies, we believe, which looks at the lived experiences of Black and Asian and ethnically diverse men and their experiences of working in the communications world.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Stormzy is more than a just a rapper and has created multiple successful ventures outside of his music career. I am a huge fan of the Stormzy Scholarship, which has provided financial support to 32 UK Black students, helping to transform their university experience. This began with two students each year, before the scheme was expanded in 2021. His #Merky Foundation in partnership with HSBC UK will provide scholarships to 12 Black students starting their studies in autumn 2023.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Going to the gym and having a solid workout, which really clears my mind for a few hours and helps me release energy in a positive way!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
We should not do things the way they have always been done. On a personal level, I am always questioning whether I can do things better and think this is the same approach the PR industry should adopt. Our clients are expecting fresh input and we must try and think outside the box when we can, to deliver even better results for them.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would probably like to work as a diplomat abroad somewhere as I was very interested in that field of work before entering corporate communications.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
The Diary of a CEO Podcast by Steven Bartlett – very inspirational guests with amazing stories

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Keep collecting data and encouraging more discussion – this is important as it paints a real picture of any areas where there could be a lack of attention from a DEI standpoint. The industry also needs to continue to encourage discussion on the topic to ensure future progress.