Top 5 technical and practical skills you need to land a job in the Communications Industry

Because I know how to write convincingly, speak in a clear, concise and catchy manner and make pretty lifestyle aesthetics— I made £800.00 one week in one of Africa’s poorest capital cities — Freetown, Sierra Leone.

As long as capitalism reigns free— the comms industry will always be hiring! The word “communications”, is a broad umbrella term for many specific roles and jobs that all revolve around conveying information.

If you like to talk a lot, love pretty looking things, and a fast-paced lifestyle— this sector is for you!

It’s the digital golden era, and many African millennial women are turning to this sector. This is an industry that underpins the side hustle of many resourceful sisters with a side hustle.

From selling home-blended essential oils on ‘the gram’ to vlogging about sexual and reproductive health.

According to Biz Community Africa, trends in advertising across the continent show an increase in market competition across African markets. Nigeria, Kenya and Ivory Coast have joined South Africa as large regional advertising hubs.

And though the rise of middle classes across the continent remains contested, the market strategy has been heavily sought after in the telecommunications, financial, FMCG and transportation industries.

Despite literacy and digital literacy rates varying greatly across the continent— the comms industry is on the rise!

The communications industry spans a wide range of sectors including television, film, radio, media and digital design, marketing, advertising, branding, public relations, and promotions, publishing, journalism, consulting and more recently social media.

There are broad communications skills that every communications professional should have to be successful in each of these sectors.

And, there are also specific technical and practical skills that will set you apart from others when applying for jobs in specialized departments at corporations, consultancy firms, creative agencies, government ministries, NGOs and all other organizations that have a communications department.

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Here are five skills, I’ve found essential for a comms professional in Africa— specifically if looking to focus on marketing, branding, and advertising.

Market analysis and strategy

If you can evidence this on your LinkedIn and CV then you’ll get an interview. Companies want to know that you understand that the main reason they even have a communications unit— is to sell things!

You are essentially the new fancy term for a marketer! Since door-to-door sales do not work anymore, you need to find out what does!

Market analysis means knowing your target market, analyzing their consumer behavior and their psyches, and then developing strategies to make them believe they need to buy into the lifestyle and ethos (the brand) of the company.

If you can throw around the term ‘customer psychographics’ and actually know what you’re talking about, then your interviewer will hire you! To develop this skill you can take an introduction to marketing class on Coursera. No funds? No problem! I once took a class for free on Coursera by applying for their course scholarships.

All you have to do is fill out a form that states you’re “kinda broke right now, that’s why you need courses and a job”, and through this form, you’ll be applying to take a course on Coursera for free. Good luck.

The ultimate wordsmith

A comms professional is ultimately someone who can convince men to buy tampons, using three words. If it’s in marketing, publishing or PR— you’ve got to be able to create and/or spot powerful work that will have your desired impact on audiences.

Basic rules for writing include: know your medium (are you writing for TV, radio, social media, an advertisement, a sales pitch, a newspaper?), know your audience, and lastly— be clear, concise and striking.

There are a million ways to write a million things, that fit into the right boxes for the right type of comms. When you decide what your niche of comms is— take the correct writing class for it!

Whether you are pitching, writing or selling— your job is to tell a story. So tell the best damn story there is!

Basic media design skills

Today everything is digital. Everything is visual and everything is about aesthetic. Design is key, especially with the rise of social media.

When starting off as a comms officer, assistant or freelance consultant, you will not have the budget nor the authority to outsource to a creative agency.

This is not relevant for working in PR, nor radio— but in the world of advertising and branding, you will first have to make various media content yourself. Basic free online software like Canva and Mavis should be good enough to start with.

Of course, you will need a decent enough camera, but luckily these days everyone has a smartphone! Most smartphones today have cameras that can substitute for a DSLR and can download multiple media editing apps.

Wipe your camera lenses, download a bunch of apps, gather a wealth of media content of the specific things needed for your industry (e.g. a bunch of foodie pics, or the hottest tourist spots in your city, or natural landscapes)— and develop a website (use Wix) or some social media platforms— may be even a podcast!

You can submit this with your CV to work in the following roles: the communications officer for the ministry of tourism in your country, the contributor of an online art and culture journal, or the strategic communications assistant at a company/creative agency.

For those looking to go into something highly specialized like graphic design, you might want to take an online or university course on Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Companies and creative agencies are always looking to hire graphic designers (freelance or in the house) and this is usually a fun and exciting job.

Creativity and originality

Know your country, know your industry, know your market— then do and be different within context!

Remember you can be a comms professional within any other industry from agriculture to mining, financial/banking, government, or retail. The industry you’re in will most likely have an institutionalized way of reaching its target demographic.

When you enter the comms industry, you have to know everything that's already be done and use this to your advantage. Learn more… Click To Tweet

You can build on existing successful methods, but it is always worth it to people who go the extra mile.

Make sure your company is doing something new. It can be something as simple as using focus groups for market research (not a lot of African markets do this), or something like tapping into a new market that your competitors don’t traditionally consider.

This will give you a total market share of a whole new (and seek large) consumer base. But make sure that you know why your company can target this market, despite others in the industry have strayed from it.

To be creative and original, try to see an opportunity to communicate via everything in your daily life— use poetry, use construction workers, use sign language—  the street hawkers, the schoolboys always playing football, and the grandmothers always dressed in grand booboos and Prada sunglasses (but play Jay-Z in the background).

Sometimes, those who don’t usually get airtime, are the ones who attract the most attention on the screen, when communicating corporate messages.

Indulge your quirky thoughts!

Self-confidence and discipline

Comms professionals tend to be bubbly, extroverted, naturally talented multitaskers who crave exciting work filled with high salaries, travel, and adventure.

All this can be yours, but you have to understand office politics and competition— and protect your magic!

This is a cut-throat industry wherein you can be here today and gone tomorrow. But it’s also one of the most fun and rewarding industries to be a part of.

If you’re going to climb your way to the top and live your best life when you get there— you have to be bold and believe in your light!

You have to keep tight schedules and make multiple lists of tasks to achieve. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals— and hold yourself to each task.

In the world of comms, where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Do you want to be the next Bozoma Saint-John?

Well then, you’ve got to believe in yourself and work even harder than she does!

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Imane Bensalem: Humanity needs more dreamers, storytellers, lovers and givers

As an author @imane_bensalem deals with her start-up as a life plan rather than a business Click To Tweet

Ever felt so alone and isolated in the world? Imane Bensalem would know that feeling. It was a sense of isolation that lead he to start the Tribe of Why, a global community of like-minded individuals who support each other to achieve their dreams.

Dreaming is something Imane strongly holds on to and her goal is to help others know that they are not alone. A community that provides support will lead to more dreams to become realities, is her philosophy. From organising local events in Marrakesh, Morocco to linking up members to start businesses in foreign countries, the Tribe of Why does it all.

You’ll be motivated and ready to become part of the tribe after reading some of Imane’s wisdom.

Tell me about yourself, who are you and what’s your story? What makes Imane the human she is?

Pain is a great teacher, the truest of all. And I have had my share of pain. I could not be grateful for it when I was younger, but I am now. Because those nights I did not know if I would make it to the next morning were the reason I can now give so much love to others and be a leader who is altruist and empathetic.

I am Imane, they call me Mani. I am the founder of Tribe Of Why and author of The Bird who Lived with Humans. In addition, I connect people who share the same life dreams because I believe that dreams unite the human race and go beyond our societal barriers.

Dreams build the future and sharing them with many other supporters around the world will enrich each individual in the Tribe and will inspire them to continue the search for meaning.

How were your childhood and growing phases an inspiring force for the Tribe of Why?

I was a single child of a single mother. I experienced isolation and questioned the capacity of our educational system to get me out of such a situation. My mother is a professor, and she agreed that the system did not allow her to be present in her own child’s life.

I started seeking knowledge in people —through deep talks— rather than books, and authentic liaisons rather than superficial links with others. Then, I succeeded at building an international tribe for myself and they were my school, my inspiration and now, my Tribe Of Why members.

I wanted to extend this experience to every other human on planet because with the amount of connectivity allowed to us, I do not see why anyone should suffer isolation or give up on their dream just due to a lack of local support. The global pool of talent is so big and rich that even the wildest of dreams will always have a match somewhere.

I don't see why anyone should give up on their dream due to lack of local support Click To Tweet

As an author, I deal with my start-up as a life plan rather than an actual business. I try to bring my life learnings into my work and allow art to be a constructive part of business. Art changes people and people change the world. I try to be a vehicle of that change.

What inspired you to begin the Tribe of Why?

Walking into my room everyday is an inspiration to continue building the Tribe Of Why. If you walk into my room you will find cards from a best friend in Greece, letters from another friend in Spain, Germany,  and dried flowers from Maldives.

A regular day for me could look like a brain-cafe with an inspirational entrepreneur/friend from Vienna, then a meeting with a stranger who just landed from the UK for the first time in Marrakesh. Her first destination was a Tribe of Why event in the city. Then this stranger becomes a friend, she meets me 2 or 3 more times and then tells me she found love here, in this new city, during one of my events.

All of the things I just stated actually happened. I began Tribe Of Why the day I started a small talent community in my business university. Within 3 months we grew to 300 members throwing the biggest flash mob defending women rights.

The dance was designed by us, the DJ was a student too, we were self-sufficient because we were a tribe that shared the same passion; passion for art and freedom.


What is Tribe of Why about? Is it a single tribe in one location or stretched across the globe?

Tribe Of Why allows you to connect with creative minds, thinkers, entrepreneurs and dreamers across the globe, but also locally. When you are travelling, you can rely on the tribe to host you and co-create ideas with you. But, you can also share coffee with the wannabe author next-door that you never actually knew about until you joined the tribe.

We are a moveable feast of knowledge and creativity. Also, small talk is something you won’t have to endure in the tribe, we go deep!

Why do you think your tribe is important in our day and age?

It is extremely important during our current times to cultivate love, empathy and peace. Such things expand out of themselves when connections from one human to another are true and purposeful.

Many of our youth today use the social platforms to compare themselves to others, they deepen their depression and sense of isolation from the world. We want people to understand they are all on the same quest.

This is why we care about building tribes who share the same dreams, they implicitly share the same pursuit and same obstacles. But together, it is easier to overcome these obstacles in contrast to being alone and feeling maladjusted to the world during such a pursuit.

How do you think this can help humanity?

In a world where we present ourselves to others not as our status, or job or colour, but as the dream burning inside of us and as the people we aspire to be, peace becomes inevitable.

One can disturb a mind that stands for nothing, but a mind that is content with a pursuit so fulfilling. With the support of like-minded dreamers, the human soul finds this satisfying inner peace. Suddenly, the feeling of being alien to the world that most creatives struggle with lessens until it vanishes.

Humanity more than ever before, needs more dreamers, storytellers, lovers and givers of all sorts, far more than it needs ‘successful’ people.

The Tribe of Why is a moveable feast of knowledge and creativity started by @imane_bensalem Click To Tweet

What makes Tribe of Why an enjoyable experience?

Tribe Of Why is as limitless as one’s dreams and ambitions. Want to travel and live with someone who is going through the same life transition as you? You can. Want to grab a bite with the local community dreamers? You can. Want to expand your business or take your dream to a country in which it is highly needed? You can do that too.

Unlike many social platforms, we do not simply stop at the stage of connecting the right people, but we offer contexts to co-create and take knowledge around the world, to places where it is needed. Our tribe members find their joy not only in living the excitement of meeting someone new or getting inspired to finally start that dream blog, but they share a sense of responsibility to make our world a better place through their shared dreams.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

4 simple ways to keep up on the digital inbound marketing trend

digital marketing trends

Are you interrupting your customers this year or are they on the hunt for you like a daily vitamin?

As you are trying to peacefully creep through the pages of Bella Naija, I mean do important research on the latest happenings around your entrepreneurial purists, the last thing you need are those pesky ads interrupting your research.

There are a few alternatives to those google ads and they call under the umbrella of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing practices have been taking over how we interact with users digitally. Inbound marketing is the ability to draw your customers to your site and products by creating highly engaging content. I emphasize to my clients – instead of interrupting users through traditional marketing methods, find other organic ways to flow into users’ day. .

Inbound practices are not only friendly to the user but they are economically friendly to entrepreneurs as well. It allows you to connect naturally to your users without spending a fortune on ads. Below are 4 effective ways to bring customers in.

1. Opt-in Emails

The lists built with care.

Your users visit your site and sign up to be apart of the greatness you have brewing. It’s an opt-in because they chose and verified that they wanted to receive that information from you.

It can be as simple as a “Sign up for our newsletter” box to the right or generously offering a free give away for signing up for your emailing list.

For example, if you’re a branding extraordinaire you may offer a quick and easy digital workbook in exchange for their information.  

Positive: Anyone that signed up for this emailing list is looking to have you there.

Difficulty: It takes time and strategic positioning to gather theses lists. You may have to form multiple partnerships with other entrepreneurs / businesses/ orgs to create visibility for yourself.

2. Thought Leadership

Are you an expert in your field? Do you have a niche area that you can speak about better than anyone else? Are you the new technology expert that’s going to tell me how solar powered refrigerators are going to change my life? Thought leadership has become the ultimate trend for entrepreneurs willing to share the best and most up to date information about their field.

Positive: Thought leadership opens doors for more speaking engagements and business opportunities because of your expertise.

Difficulty: You. Must. Be. Consistent. To whom much is given, much is required. Taking the step to being a thought leader, especially in a very in-demand field, requires consistency to remain relevant. If those refrigerators can suddenly teleport, I’m looking to you first to tell me why.

3. Blogs

A form of expressing the thought leadership are blogs! Start-ups to larger companies such as Price Water Coopers are utilizing the buzz. Potential customers, competitors and collaborators want to what you’re up to and where your interests lie. Fill them in.

Positive: It’s a quick and easy way to get the information to people that are already following your work.

Difficulty: There is a fine line between too little information and too much. People want to be engaged, educated and/ or entertained in a matter of a few minutes. One platform that I absolutely promote the utilization of is: A quick and easy platform that allows you to connect to fellow bloggers, business owners and politicians.

4. Community Building

My favorite building trend. Yes, I am shamelessly biased to this form of marketing. When you create a community, you create a space for your customers/ readers to feel engaged,included and connected.  This is the first market to sample that great item you have on display.

As your continuously building that tribe of people who are invested in your product and expertise, they give you the right to infiltrate their inbox. What will you do with that power?

Community building is also a great leverage when forming future partnerships. This community is your direct audience; this is a selling point when meeting with potential sponsors.  Who can they really reach by working with you?

In sum, goal setting and discipline are a few keys to success! Pick one that you haven’t started yet and add it to your already bubbling list of New Year resolutions. All of these items build on each other, but choosing one to focus on first will allow you to measure impact and what is and isn’t going well with how you engage your users.