A near-death experience provided the inspiration for Simi Belo’s
first high-profile PR campaign. Her brush with death while suffering
from Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) at the age of 16 spurred her on to raise
awareness of the then drastically under-researched illness.
After studying geography at King’s College, London, Belo took the advice
of her career officer and decided upon pursuing a future in PR.
Eight years ago and less than halfway into her PRCA postgraduate diploma
studies, Nigerian-born Belo threw herself passionately behind a
strategic campaign to bring the dangers of TSS, a rare blood infection,
out into the open. ’I was very lucky to survive TSS and had always
wanted to use my experience to help others and raise awareness,’ she
’Studying for my diploma provided me for the first time with access to
all these facilities and media databases and it was then I decided to
kick off my own campaign.’
After months of bombarding the media with press releases, lobbying MPs
and trade bodies, Belo’s crusade finally paid off. Following a barrage
of front page stories and national television and radio appearances, the
campaign effected a change in tampon packaging - with an agreement from
the industry to publish TSS warnings on boxes and literature.
Her success with the campaign, which is still an on-going project for
Belo, landed her a graduate trainee job with Pielle and Company in
Using Pielle as a launch pad into the industry, Belo left to gain
experience in a variety of agencies, including Key Communications,
handling accounts from food and fashion through to crisis
She was soon snapped up by video games company Maxis, known for the
popular Sim City series, to run its in-house PR department. A
self-confessed technology-aholic, Belo found the lure of working in the
computer games industry irresistible. She says she completely immersed
herself in the work, taking products home, playing the games herself and
researching in her spare time. ’When I was younger I loved playing
games. I still do,’ she enthuses.
’What makes Simi really stand out from the crowd is her ultimate
professionalism, dedication - her company loyalty is unwavering - and
how hard she works.
Simi eats, drinks, breathes and sleeps her job,’ says previous colleague
Sam Fay, then marketing manager at Maxis, who is now producer at The
This drive took Belo from Maxis in 1997 to one of the world’s leading
video games companies, Electronic Arts (EA) as head of the UK PR
’She was a breath of fresh air,’ says EA sales director John Galloway,
who worked with Belo for the three years she was with the company.
’She’s vivacious, wild and professional. She knew what her job was
about, but she did it in a fun way.’
Sitting in Text 100’s new premises in Chiswick, Belo looks completely at
home with the agency after just a couple of weeks. Her passion for the
job shines through, and she looks just as animated and genuinely
enthusiastic talking about her past experience handling Nestle chocolate
accounts, as she is about her new challenge.
Belo’s role as associate director is to re-ignite Text’s technology
consumer PR offering, strategically targeting existing and new clients.
’I want to be at the cutting edge,’ she says. ’Technology is the driving
force behind the majority of successful industries and I always wanted
to work in the area that is setting the pace.’ She will be focusing on
reforming the agency’s consumer sector, which disappeared along with
clients and staff when first Bite Communications and then August.One
Communications were spun off as sister agencies.
So, what does the future hold? ’One of the biggest challenges is
starting a family and juggling it with work,’ she says. ’I’m single now,
but I do want to get married and have kids.’ For the moment however, she
has plenty to occupy herself dividing her time between a new job and a
two-year part-time MBA, which she is due to start in September.
’In 10 years time I’ll still like to be in PR, but maybe more on the
business side,’ she says, not giving too much away. ’Perhaps I’ll be
running my own company by then or maybe a more senior position in Text
Whatever Belo’s plans, she plans to continue her TSS campaign. Her next
aim is to gain celebrity backing and launch a campaign web site. ’The
campaign won’t stop until the safety regulations are in place to help
prevent people getting TSS, she says.’
With Belo’s obvious aptitude for her profession you can believe her.
1994: PR executive, Key Communications
1995: European PR manager, Maxis
1997: Head of PR, Electronic Arts UK
2000: Associate director, Text 100 UK.