#BlackStarDELIGHT: UK-based Ghanaian Media and Communications professional Akosua Annobil

Akosua Annobil , a Ghanaian Media and Communications professional based in the UK  shares her thoughts with enewsgh.com on whether Ghanaian artistes have branded themselves well enough. What was...

Akosua Annobil , a Ghanaian Media and Communications professional based in the UK  shares her thoughts with enewsgh.com on whether Ghanaian artistes have branded themselves well enough.

What was it like organizing and producing Samini’s Album Launch Party in 2009?

Samini won a MOBO Award for Best African Act in 2006, but he was little known in the UK at that time and Afrobeat wasn’t anywhere near as popular as it is now in Britain. So when I got the call to introduce him to the UK music industry, I knew it would be a challenge. It turned out to be great fun, and one of the most successful projects I’ve put together over the past decade. It was a private party for the release of his third studio album, Dagaati, and it was the UK’s first album launch for a Ghanaian musician.

Over 200 British and African celebrities, music industry executives and journalists attended the event, and I booked award-winning rapper Bashy as a London-based support act because his energy (both on and off stage) is captivating – similar to Samini’s. I genuinely had love for the project in regards to the music and crossing boundaries between Ghana and the UK.

As a PR person, do you think Ghanaian artistes have branded themselves well enough to get a worldwide appeal?

The short answer is no. However, I think that’s more to do with the lack of behind-the-scenes talent in the industry, rather than the artists themselves. Ghana has produced an explosion of new talent, which is brilliant. But there doesn’t seem to be many professional PR, marketing and management teams to support them.

That said, I do think some artists need to take better advantage of the online space, which can significantly improve their profiles if executed properly.

Any plans to extend what you do / share your experiences with Ghana (media, creative arts industry)

Absolutely.

What was the inspiration/idea behind founding Fire Media UK/overgroundonline.com?

Back in 2004, my business mentor and close friend Peter Murray , (founder of Pride, the UK’s glossy magazine for women of colour) pointed out that I should be doing more with my media skills and industry contacts. With Fire Media it was a case of supply and demand. London’s underground music scene was thriving and there were a huge number of artists that needed specialist promotion. We then went on to events, theatre productions and celebrities, providing a variety of PR services.

Overground Online came about after spending seven years as an entertainment editor on the now defunct African-Caribbean newspaper New Nation. Black media in general were pretty slow to react to the internet, but it was clear where the marketplace was heading. I co-launched the site in 2008, and it was quite pioneering at the time – a place to read articles and watch videos about African Caribbean entertainment, politics and London culture for free.

Both Fire Media and Overground rewarded me with some great times and valuable lessons, which I’ll treasure and use as a guide as I move on in my career.

Names of celebrities you’ve interviewed

A few of my personal favourites include Chaka Khan, Mary J Blige, R Kelly, Beenie Man and Wiley.

Any memorable career moments?

In 2006, I was flown out on a press trip to Ghana to cover Jay Z’s first concert there. I managed to write some good stories while staying at the same hotel as Jay and his entourage. However, the best thing about the trip was that it was the beginning of my relationship with Ghana – for both work and play.

In 2008, I was called to LA to present a show called Brits Abroad for American TV network BET (Black Entertainment Television), and interview celebrities from the UK who were pursuing careers in Hollywood. While I was there, I also appeared in a popular, debate panel series called Hip Hop Vs America. That was an unforgettable experience.

Akosua, Levi Roots and Ozwald Boateng

Akosua, Levi Roots and Ozwald Boateng

Have you won any awards for your work?

During my days as a print journalist and radio broadcaster I won a Ghana Professional Achievers Award for Media and Communications.

Your thoughts on discussions that digital media will overtake traditional media in the coming years?

I’ll always have a soft spot for traditional media, particularly print, as that was my training ground and the foundation upon which I have built my career. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the future is digital – the change is already happening. Many publications and media organizations have cut or closed down due to marketing spend being shifted to the digital landscape.

Recent reports show that by 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses will be connected to the internet, and the media play an important part in that evolution. It’s also essential to fully equip the next generation to become creators and not just consumers of content.

Kindly give details of what you do with Headliners UK

In 2008/9 I felt passionately about the demise of youth culture in the UK, particularly in regards to violent crime. I initially joined Headliners as an Outreach Journalist; developing and delivering media projects with some of the most vulnerable young people in the country, including youth offenders. The sessions are used as a catalyst to give young people a platform to raise issues in society that they feel are important to them, while inspiring them to build on their skills and work towards achieving their goals.

Over the years I’ve worked in schools, youth centres, pupil referral units and voluntary organizations.. Now, I’m running a Big Lottery-funded project focused on young people in the care system, and working with the charity to develop future partnerships around digital skills and employment.

Any advice to young people who want to chart a career path in the media?

It’s a bit of a cliché, but study the craft and do what you love within the industry. And if you haven’t worked out what that is yet just follow your curiosity or the bits about media that make you tick. Don’t get me wrong, nobody in media starts with nothing and becomes successful overnight simply by doing what pleases them. In my early years I had to make money working in a café, telesales, a hair salon and as a customer service assistant in London City Airport. But all the while I was studying journalism and working in national newspaper offices for free. Later in life you realise it all adds up. Those part-time jobs helped to build my confidence and networking skills; work experience at the Financial Times made my CV stand out; and I got my first break in media through one of the clients at the hair salon!

Last words?

Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the sky.

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