Q&A Monday: Wanjiru Gaitho

Wanjiru Gaitho and Obed, doorman at The Hilton, Durban (He's the coolest doorman you will ever meet).
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Wanjiru Gaitho is a media and public relations professional. She currently works for Safaricom and was previously at Hill + Knowlton Strategies & Gina Din Corporate Communications. She was also a business journalist at Citizen TV. She loves food (cooking and eating it), reading, writing, interior design & decor.

We had a few questions for her and this is what she had to say.

1. Your first phone?

Nokia 3210 I think. I just remember it was this big clunky thing handed down from my folks but it meant so much to me. That was until I got the 3310 that was stolen from me at GPO because I carried it in this see-through bag that I thought was super cool. Dumb move.

2. Between Facebook and Twitter, which one do you prefer? Why?

Definitely Twitter. I learn a lot more from my feed so I feel it’s useful. My Facebook has too much clutter; there’s too many people on it that I haven’t spoken to in over 10 years and then those annoying Facebook memories that remind me of the folly of my youth, smh.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Is it vain to say I’ll have a banging body? LOL. Seriously though, I’d love to move up the ranks in PR, be a real influencer (both online and in real life) and hopefully show that a woman can have a great career and even greater life at home – and be a nice person while at it.

4. Any question for us? We’ll publish our answer as well.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear my name? I’m curious.

That you are an awesome creative writer and that you should write more (creative stuff). Hope you get time to explore that at some point.

5. What would you do if you were president for a day?

Decree that all corrupt public officials be flogged in public. I’m sick and tired of corruption in Kenya. It’s costing us so much and the people responsible for it never get punished. I figure if we start with the really big names then we’d scare the bejeezus out of all the “smallfish” too. I’d also redecorate State House. I’ve never been there, but I imagine it must be quite drab going by GoK’s love for cheap maroon velvet as seen in government offices. Then I’d use that as the intro to my interior decor catalogue and get me some big clients! Gotta have that plan B you know?

6. What’s your favourite book & movie?

Goodness. I read a lot of fiction so it’s hard to pick one right now. But if I absolutely must, I’ll pick Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson. She writes like a Nigerian! For something funny I’ll go with Blackass by Igoni Barrett. It had me bursting out in laughter more than once.

For the movie, I’ll go with Remember The Titans. And because I’m a girl who likes the occasional rom-com then I’ll pick How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days. I’ve watched it way too many times.

7. Who or what inspired what you do now?

To begin with I just wanted out of the newsroom because it never felt like me. Then I moved to PR out of curiosity – and needing a job after quitting my Citizen TV gig without a plan. Now I’m inspired by the everyday stories I see and want to tell. I’m yet to find that one person who I can say has touched the soul of my PR being.

8. If you were to change jobs, which profession would you get into? Why?

Oh that’s a no-brainer. I’d be a writer. No doubt about that. I’d write and do interior design and decor. I’m really getting into that now and I can still write about that too so win-win.

9. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Is eating without getting fat a super power? I’d want that and then proceed to eat my way through every single dish in every restaurant I came across.

10. Which 5 things would you want to have if you were deserted on an abandoned island?

  • My phone (with unlimited data and charge)
  • A Kindle (again with unending charge)
  • Maroon 5 (their albums and the band itself)
  • Lots of food
  • Coconut water

11. If you were a car, which one would you like to be? Why?

You know, I used to really want a Volkswagen Touareg with white monogrammed leather seats and beautiful wooden features. I thought it was very “me”. Now I’d want the Jaguar XJ because it growls badass (you need to watch the Jaguar Good To Be Bad commercial featuring these really cool Brit villains). Or Bumblebee from Transformers if that’s an option – then I’d just transform and jump over cars in traffic. And destroy matatus with silly drivers.

12. If you could be in any band in the world, which one would it be? Why?

Probably Maroon 5 because I really like their music. And Adam is not bad for a skinny guy with a high-pitched voice.

13a. How has PR in the age of the Internet and how should businesses adapt?

A lot of stuff has shifted online these days but so many people are still fixated on seeing/watching/listening to their stories on traditional media. To be honest that is something that is becoming harder to get into if you’re not about politics or a “really big” business or sports story. I’d love to see more sites run by a good mix of talented bloggers and journalists to give variety to demanding audiences. We could do so much more in lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Posting the press release and pictures sent to you by Shiro from PR is not enough – bloggers and curators of sites need to look for real stories and be even more professional than their mainstream news counterparts to be taken seriously by more corporates.

b. How does handling PR in an agency (for different brands) and for a corporate compare? Which one do you prefer?

I’ve learned a lot from both. Agency is really demanding! A lot of people think Agency PR guys just draft and send out press releases but there’s a lot that goes on beyond the releases and events. Clients should learn to appreciate what their agencies do for them. Being “The Client” now is not so different where I work, in that my job is to manage my internal clients just like I would if I was in Agency, but it comes with a greater need for strategic thinking and creative execution. That said, I’m happy in corporate for now, but have plans to shake things up a little so we can compete with other brands around the world :-).

14. Share something interesting about yourself with our readers.

I’ve learned to mask shyness by talking. It sounds like an oxymoron but it’s actually true. I also make some pretty mean dishes when I’m in the mood to cook (I’m told I don’t look like I cook, whatever that means). Oh, and I’m a struggling blogger so catch me on shelikessweetthings.blogspot.com.