Kwame Senou | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Kwame Senou

Executive Director
The Holding Opinion and Public

Ivory Coast 


“We are required to do the same things for brands over time. Innovation allows us to do them, while still demonstrating value by coming up with different ideas, so it's critical to consider innovation as part of operating procedures.” 

Kwame Senou has spent his career working in agencies of all sizes across the West African countries of Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo, including OPRG and latterly as senior vice president of Opinion & Public BCW, but always with a singular focus of bridging the gap between Francophone and Anglophone Africa. Last year, he set up his own agency, The Holding Opinion & Public, to further champion this cause and advance the practice of PR in Francophone Africa by working with global partners including the PROI network, Edelman and BCW. Having advised multinationals, regional champions, governments and not-for-profit organisations on strategic communications, media relations, advertising, branding, events and content production, he is known for his in-depth understanding of audiences in French-speaking Africa and the best channels to reach them. He is also committed to bringing young talent into the business from across the region. Next year, the African Public Relations Association – where Senou sits on the advisory board – will hold its first conference in a Francophone African country, in Ivory Coast. He is also a PRCA global advisory board member and a board member of Brand Africa.

How do you define innovation?
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Innovation is the ability to do the same things differently. That's where creativity comes to play, it gives one the understanding of the necessary difference that can make the same things relevant now.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
Nedbank South Africa’s ‘Reality Check’.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
[South African financial services group] Sanlam.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
With my team we were leveraging the power of communications to help a client introduce electric motorbikes in Togo and Benin, West Africa. Not only did we become innovative with our creative ideas, but we had to be innovative in solving the many challenges that came with the six-month project across two countries.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Jony Ive, former Apple chief design officer, for the simplicity and the difference in doing the same things.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I travel to a place I have not been before and focus on observation.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
We are required to do the same things for brands over time. Innovation allows us to do them, while still demonstrating value by coming up with different ideas, finding a better way. It is then critical for the industry to consider innovation as part of operating procedures and create the conditions that allow creativity to flourish.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would have been a business lawyer for financial services.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Howard French ‘Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War’.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
The PR industry needs to be deliberate about having diverse teams in an inclusive and equitable environment. When people come from different background, perspectives, ethnicities, gender and orientations, they see the world differently and can creatively produce a better way to do things, that are by the nature the same.