Now Reading
Up Close with Audrey Yacou: A veteran PR & Marketing Executive

Up Close with Audrey Yacou: A veteran PR & Marketing Executive

Daniel Watson
Audrey Yacou Feature

Discovering Audrey Yacou’s Journey: Navigating PR and Marketing in the Guadeloupe Islands

Guadeloupe Trip 2018

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Audrey Yacou, an experienced PR executive representing the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe. Just a few years ago, I had the chance to travel with Ms. Yacou and immerse myself in Guadeloupe’s rich culture, from its unique landscapes to its delectable Caribbean cuisine. The memories are still vivid, as if it were only a few weeks ago. With over 10 years of experience in PR and tourism, Ms. Yacou shared insights about her journey and the passion driving the brand. Join us as we delve into her story.

Audrey Yacou
Attending the Women Who Travel event in partnership with CondeNast

As someone with roots in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, how do you integrate aspects of your cultural heritage into your work, particularly in environments where cultural diversity may not always be fully embraced?

With deep roots in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, incorporating elements of my cultural heritage into my work feels like a natural extension of my identity. Growing up in Guadeloupe has profoundly shaped my perspective, molding me into who I am today. I am a strong advocate for celebrating and embracing cultural diversity in all environments.

When cultural diversity is not fully embraced, I see it as an opportunity to educate and enlighten others about the richness of my heritage. My current role allows me to do just that, and I am grateful for the platform it provides. Promoting Guadeloupe isn’t just a job for me; it’s a passion that stems from my upbringing.

I actively seek opportunities to promote cultural diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Whether through organizing cultural events, advocating for diverse representation, or sharing personal anecdotes and culinary delights, I strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

I firmly believe that diversity enhances our collective experience, fostering innovation and inclusivity. By embracing and celebrating cultural diversity, we can cultivate a more vibrant and harmonious workplace for everyone involved.

Audrey Yocau at Tourism Event in NYC
photo credit Marc Enett

Transitioning from Paris to New York City, how did the cultural shift impact your approach to PR and Marketing strategies?

Transitioning from Paris to New York City profoundly impacted my approach to PR and marketing strategies. It broadened my perspective and underscored the importance of cultural sensitivity and adaptability. In Paris, I honed a more traditional and refined marketing style. However, New York’s diverse and fast-paced environment pushed me to be more dynamic and innovative.

In New York, I learned to tailor campaigns to resonate with a multicultural audience, leveraging the city’s melting pot of cultures to create more inclusive and engaging content. This experience has made me more versatile and effective in crafting strategies that appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Embracing the contrasts between these two vibrant cities has enriched my professional journey, enhancing my ability to connect with and engage diverse populations.

What inspired your decision to pursue multiple degrees in communications and marketing, and how have they contributed to your professional growth?

My decision to pursue multiple degrees in communications and marketing was driven by a combination of personal passion, family values, and the pursuit of professional excellence. Education has always been highly valued and encouraged in my family. Growing up, I was taught that knowledge is the key to success, and I am grateful for the privilege of receiving a quality education.

Studying both fields allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to craft compelling messages, engage with diverse audiences, and drive results through strategic initiatives. Studying in both Paris and New York provided me with unique perspectives and experiences that have been invaluable to my professional growth. Combining my academic background in communications and marketing has equipped me with a versatile skill set that has been instrumental in my career.

Ultimately, my education has been more than just a means to a career; it has been a transformative journey of self-discovery, growth, and enlightenment. It has provided me with the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to navigate life’s challenges and pursue my career with purpose and conviction.

With a background in both communications and marketing, how do you navigate the intersection of these fields in your current role at the Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Board?

As a PR and Marketing Executive at the Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Board, navigating the intersection of communications and marketing involves a strategic blend of both disciplines to create cohesive and impactful campaigns.

In communications, my focus is on crafting compelling narratives and building relationships with our audience. I highlight the unique aspects of the Guadeloupe Islands, from its rich culture and history to its stunning natural landscapes. By leveraging media relations, social media, and content creation, I ensure our message resonates with diverse audiences and effectively conveys the allure of our destination.

On the marketing side, I employ data-driven strategies to reach our target demographics and drive engagement. This includes developing and executing advertising campaigns, managing digital marketing efforts, and analyzing market trends to optimize our approach. I work to ensure that our marketing efforts align with our overall brand messaging and communications goals, creating a seamless experience for potential visitors.

By integrating these two fields, I create comprehensive campaigns that not only attract visitors but also foster a deeper connection with the Guadeloupe Islands.

What unique aspects of the French Caribbean region do you focus on highlighting to American travelers?

Facing challenges such as stiff competition from better-known destinations and constant confusion with Guadalupe, Mexico, our mission was clear: to position Guadeloupe as more than just a beach destination but as a cultural gem in the Caribbean.

Our strategy revolves around showcasing Guadeloupe’s rich cultural heritage, diverse traditions, and vibrant local life. We aim to present Guadeloupe as the cultural capital of the Caribbean, offering visitors an immersive experience beyond the typical sun-and-sand vacation. By leveraging unique cultural events such as the vibrant Guadeloupe Carnival, celebrating our Black Heritage History, and honoring the legacy of figures like Chevalier Saint-Georges, and Maryse Condé we aim to captivate American travelers and invite them to explore the depth and authenticity of the Guadeloupean experience.

Through innovative PR and marketing initiatives, we seek to raise awareness of Guadeloupe’s cultural offerings and position the islands as a top-tier destination for travelers seeking enriching cultural experiences in the Caribbean. Our goal is to elevate Guadeloupe’s profile and ensure it stands out as a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the true essence of Caribbean culture.

Audrey Yacou with GITB consultant
Audrey Yacou with GITB consultant at the Barclays Center exploring partnership opportunities.

Having worked in various roles in PR, communication, and marketing, what skills do you believe are essential for success in each of these fields?

Transitioning from a more reserved demeanor to stepping into the world of communication was undeniably challenging, yet it became a pivotal aspect of my professional growth. In PR, communication, and marketing, the ability to engage with others confidently and effectively is crucial. Overcoming this challenge required me to develop strong interpersonal skills, assertiveness, and the confidence to share ideas and narratives convincingly.

This transformation not only enhanced my professional capabilities but also enriched my personal journey. It reinforced the importance of stepping outside one’s comfort zone to achieve success in these fields. Being able to navigate dynamic environments, think creatively, and collaborate effectively with others are key factors in achieving success. This experience has shown me that personal development and career achievement frequently complement each other, and that embracing discomfort is crucial for both.

Can you share a specific instance where you felt your identity as a Black woman was underrepresented or misunderstood in a professional setting, and how did you navigate that situation?

Absolutely. In the tourism industry, where the majority of stakeholders are white, there are times when I, as a Black woman, feel underrepresented or misunderstood. One specific incident comes to mind: during a collaborative meeting with partners, I noticed that my contributions and insights were being overlooked or dismissed. It became clear that some individuals were taking my knowledge and expertise for granted, possibly due to assumptions about my background or identity.

In response, I stood firm in my convictions and asserted my value. I firmly believe that respect is non-negotiable, regardless of race or gender. I made it a point to communicate my perspectives with confidence and clarity, ensuring that my voice was heard and my contributions were acknowledged. I refuse to wait for an invitation to the table; I bring my own chair and make space for myself. I am here to stay, and I will never allow anyone to sideline me.

Audrey Yacou partnerships
Audrey Yacou, PR and Marketing Executive for GITB, Tiana Gamez, Head of Marketing at Atout France and partner at Guadeloupe PR Event announcing the new route from NY with JetBlue

Can you discuss a memorable collaboration or partnership you’ve orchestrated in your career, and the key factors that contributed to its success?

One of the most memorable collaborations in my career was coordinating the filming of two episodes of the PBS travel show “Bare Feet,” which focused on the Guadeloupe Carnival. This project perfectly aligned with our strategy to highlight the island’s rich cultural heritage. The immersive portrayal of Guadeloupe’s vibrant traditions captivated viewers and led to the episodes earning Silver Telly Awards in 2022 and 2023, recognizing excellence in television and video production.

Another significant initiative involved promoting the story of Chevalier Saint-Georges, a Guadeloupean virtuoso violinist and Civil Rights hero. To coincide with the release of the movie “Chevalier,” I organized a high-profile PR event at the Hall des Lumières in New York. The event, set in a majestic venue, aimed to position Guadeloupe as a cultural capital of the Caribbean and was a tremendous success.

Additionally, my efforts in securing coverage in major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Afar, Vogue, Ebony, and CNN Travel were instrumental in raising awareness of Guadeloupe. These initiatives collectively helped solidify Guadeloupe’s reputation as a must-visit travel destination. The success of these collaborations was driven by strategic alignment, compelling storytelling, and effectively leveraging cultural narratives.

By combining these elements, we have been able to showcase Guadeloupe’s unique cultural assets and enhance its profile on the global stage.

In your opinion, what role does storytelling play in effective PR and marketing strategies, and how do you craft compelling narratives for your campaigns?

In my opinion, storytelling is the cornerstone of effective PR and marketing strategies, particularly in the tourism industry. It allows us to create authentic connections with our audience, immersing them in the unique experiences our destination has to offer.

Take, for instance, our “Live Like a Local” campaign for Guadeloupe. Instead of merely promoting the island’s attractions, we crafted narratives that invited travelers to experience Guadeloupe through the eyes of its residents. We shared stories of local artisans, fishermen, and chefs, showcasing their daily lives, traditions, and passions.

Through captivating content, we painted a vivid picture of the authentic Guadeloupean lifestyle. By focusing on genuine experiences and personal connections, we created a narrative that resonated deeply with our target audience.

Crafting compelling narratives involves understanding the interests and aspirations of our audience and finding stories that align with these elements. By highlighting the unique culture, traditions, and people of Guadeloupe, we were able to create a campaign that not only captured attention but also inspired travelers to explore the island and immerse themselves in its rich tapestry of experiences.

By prioritizing storytelling, we ensure that our marketing efforts are not only engaging but also meaningful, fostering a deeper connection between travelers and the destination.

In your role as a PR and Marketing Executive, how do you ensure that the campaigns you lead authentically represent diverse perspectives, including those of Black women, in a predominantly white-dominated industry?

As a PR and Marketing Executive, I prioritize ensuring that the campaigns I lead authentically represent diverse perspectives, including those of Black women, in an industry that is predominantly white-dominated. Representation is crucial, especially in travel, as it contributes to making the experience more inclusive and accessible for all.

I advocate for diversity at every stage of the campaign development process, from conceptualization to execution. I also actively seek out partnerships and collaborations with organizations and individuals who champion diversity and inclusion. By collaborating with diverse content creators, influencers, and community leaders, we can ensure that our marketing materials reflect a wide range of perspectives and experiences.

Ultimately, by prioritizing diversity and representation in our marketing campaigns, we not only reflect the rich tapestry of our audience but also contribute to creating a more inclusive and welcoming travel industry for all. This approach helps to build a more equitable industry and fosters a sense of belonging for every traveler.

Can you share a pivotal moment or experience from your upbringing in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe that significantly influenced your career path in communications and marketing?

Growing up in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, sports were a significant part of my life and our household. My family and I were avid sports fans, often gathering around the TV to watch various sporting events. These moments were filled with excitement and lively discussions about the athletes and their performances.

A pivotal experience that influenced my career path occurred when I was about 15 years old. I remember watching a sports publicist on TV who was discussing the athletes he represented. His ability to communicate their stories and achievements with such passion and clarity left a lasting impression on me. I was fascinated by how he brought the athletes’ journeys to life and connected with the audience.

Although I always wished to be an athlete, I wasn’t blessed with the physical abilities required for a professional sports career. However, seeing that publicist on TV opened my eyes to a different possibility—one where I could still be involved in the world of sports. I realized that through communication, I could play a vital role in the sports industry by promoting athletes and helping to tell their stories.

This experience was a defining moment for me. It inspired me to pursue a career in communications and marketing, with a specific focus on sports. My passion for sports and communication has driven me throughout my career, and I am dedicated to bringing the same level of enthusiasm and dedication to my work as that publicist did when I first saw him on TV.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital marketing?

Staying updated with the latest trends and innovations in digital marketing is crucial, and I approach it with a blend of curiosity, continuous learning, and practical application. Each day, I dedicate time to reading industry-leading publications like AdAge, Marketing Week, and HubSpot’s blog, which provide valuable insights into current trends and emerging technologies. I also subscribe to newsletters from thought leaders and organizations in the digital marketing space, ensuring I receive a steady stream of up-to-date information.

Being an active participant in professional networks and online communities, such as LinkedIn groups, allows me to engage with other professionals, exchange ideas, ask questions, and discuss new developments in the field. Attending webinars, conferences, and workshops is another key part of my strategy to stay informed and connected.

Additionally, I prioritize continuous education through online courses and certifications. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy offer specialized courses that help me deepen my knowledge and stay current with digital marketing trends. Given my role in travel marketing, I also keep up with travel trends. The combination of expertise in both areas enables me to create impactful campaigns that resonate within different demographics.

By embracing continuous learning and staying engaged with the latest developments in digital and travel marketing, I ensure that my strategies remain innovative and effective.

As someone who has pursued higher education and built a successful career across multiple continents, how do you navigate the challenges of blending personal passions and professional ambitions, while still making time for family, hobbies, and other interests outside of work?

Balancing personal passions, professional ambitions, and family commitments is not easy, but it’s a journey I’ve embraced wholeheartedly. As someone who has pursued higher education and built a successful career across multiple continents, I’ve learned that finding harmony in these areas requires constant effort and a willingness to adapt.

There are moments when the finish line seems within reach, only to realize that there’s always more to strive for. It’s a continual pursuit of excellence, and I find myself constantly pushing that finish line further. But amidst the challenges and the endless pursuit, I remain driven by a deep-seated desire to achieve more, to do better, and to make a meaningful impact.

Despite the demands of my professional life, I make it a priority to carve out time for my family, hobbies, and other interests. I’m based in New York, while my family is back home in Guadeloupe. Scheduling my trips home well in advance has become a priority, ensuring I always have a forthcoming visit to anticipate. Returning to my roots is not only significant but also serves as a source of replenishment for me.

During the pandemic, I’ve come to realize that true success isn’t just about climbing the career ladder; it’s about finding fulfillment in all aspects of life. It’s about cherishing moments with loved ones, pursuing passions outside of work, and embracing new experiences with an open heart and mind.

While the journey may be challenging, I’m not done yet. There’s still so much more to explore, to learn, and to achieve. With each step forward, I’m grateful for the opportunity to blend my personal and professional ambitions in a way that brings joy, fulfillment, and purpose to my life.

With your demanding role as a PR and Marketing Executive for the Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Board, how do you prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance amidst the pressures of your professional responsibilities?

Self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance require intentionality. I prioritize self-care by setting clear boundaries between work and personal time, ensuring I unplug and relax after hours. While it’s not always easy, I strive to be more intentional about respecting these boundaries.

Regular exercise helps me stay energized and focused. Additionally, I rely heavily on the community I’ve found here. I have a close-knit group of friends, and we meet every month for our InStrive check-ins, a support system created by two friends. These meetings help us support each other through life, discussing our individual goals and challenges while keeping each other accountable and grounded.

This balance is crucial for maintaining my productivity and creativity in my professional responsibilities. By being intentional about self-care and leaning on my community, I ensure that I remain effective and fulfilled both personally and professionally.

Looking ahead, what excites you most about the future of PR and marketing, and how do you envision leveraging emerging technologies and platforms to stay ahead of the curve?

Looking forward, the integration of emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI), is set to revolutionize PR and marketing within the tourism industry. AI offers significant opportunities to transform how we interact with travelers, personalize their experiences, and execute more effective marketing campaigns.

What excites me most is the potential of AI-powered data analytics, which allows for deeper insights into consumer behavior and preferences. By utilizing AI algorithms, we can analyze vast amounts of data in real-time, understand trends, forecast market shifts, and tailor strategies accordingly. This precision enables us to deliver targeted and personalized messaging, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience.

Additionally, AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants have the potential to transform customer service within the tourism sector. These intelligent bots can offer instant assistance and personalized recommendations to travelers at various stages of their journey, from destination research to trip planning. Leveraging AI-powered chatbots can elevate customer satisfaction, streamline communication, and provide a seamless service experience.

By embracing these innovations, we can maintain a competitive edge and deliver campaigns that are personalized, immersive, and impactful for our destination. AI will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the future of tourism marketing, and I am excited to be at the forefront of this technological evolution.

Is there any additional insight you would like to share with our readers about your journey?

This year, I am honored to be nominated for a tourism medal by Atout France, the French Government Tourist Office. This recognition highlights my dedication to promoting the Guadeloupe Islands and validates the hard work and innovative strategies behind my marketing and PR efforts. It confirms that my initiatives effectively capture travelers’ interest and inspire them to visit this remarkable destination.

On a personal level, this nomination is deeply rewarding. It signifies that my efforts have significantly impacted promoting tourism to the Guadeloupe Islands, a place that holds a special place in my heart. This acknowledgment motivates me to continue advocating for the region and striving for excellence in my work.

This milestone achievement fills me with pride and gratitude, reinforcing my commitment to showcasing the beauty and allure of the Guadeloupe Islands to travelers worldwide.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that Audrey Yacou‘s innovative approach and passion for integrating technology with cultural storytelling will continue to shape the tourism industry. Her dedication to leveraging AI to create personalized, immersive experiences is just one example of her forward-thinking vision. To learn more about Audrey’s journey and how she’s transforming travel marketing, stay tuned for more inspiring stories and insights from this remarkable PR and Marketing Executive.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
Scroll To Top