Gugu Sithole-Tyali Shows Us How to Take Over the World of PR

As you know, we’re always so incredibly proud when we see amazing women who are not only succeeding in their respective careers but uplift other young women for success too!

With over 10 years’ experience, Gugu Sithole-Tyali took her once small side hustle and turned it into one of the most respected PR companies in the creative industry.

Sprout Creative PR is not only completely black-owned, but they also have an all-woman team, and together, they eliminate the misconceptions society has of women working together for a bigger and greater purpose.

Below, Gugu shares a bit about her challenges, successes and how she is using her talents to empower other women on the come up.

 Tell us more about Sprout PR?

We’re a budding, black-owned, creative boutique, specializing in brand communications. Our talents lie in strategic public relations, digital marketing, brand development, creative content creation, and event curation.

Turning a side hustle into a business has been interesting, to say the least - @ZuluGirl1 Click To Tweet

What do you think is the most challenging part of being in the industry?                                             

From the perspective of being a startup in the industry, the challenges are endless. I’ll stick to three that have been particularly pertinent to Sprout over the last couple of years.

Carving a niche for ourselves:

In the beginning, there was a temptation to do a lot of things, often more than what our business could handle. As soon as we stopped trying to be everything to everyone, and played to our strengths as a team, we were able to carve a space for ourselves.

Currently, that’s working with brands in Fintech, Agritech, AI, etc. We also have a love for and wide-ranging experience in the lifestyle sector, so we’re excited to see that portfolio grow.

Staying competitive:

As a young and small agency, competing with the well-established agencies can be pretty tough. They’ve got long track records and name recognition going for them.

We’ve found however that being small has its positives, so we’re working hard to take advantage of those. We’re adaptable, have a niche specialization, and I think we’re way more invested in our clients and their brands.

We’ve also been lucky to get extensive exposure to design thinking and Lean Startup methodologies. Adopting and implementing those practices has allowed us to collaborate with clients in a way that harnesses our shared strengths, and has resulted in them viewing us as partners, rather than vendors.

Assembling the right team:

This one’s a biggie. Striking a balance between hiring experienced professionals and being a training ground for up-and-comers – something close to my heart – is tricky.

We’re fortunate to work with clients who are passionate about entrepreneurship/startups, and so as long we’re working our butts off, staying accountable, and are passionate about their brands, they’re giving us the room to figure this part out.

We’re working hard at it though.

As soon as we stopped trying to be everything to everyone, and played to our strengths as a team, we were able to carve a space for ourselves - @ZuluGirl1 Click To Tweet

We have heard about your difficult journey, tell us a little more?

Turning a side hustle into a business has been interesting, to say the least.

Nothing could have prepared me for the hardships of this journey. But, it’s also been an incredibly fulfilling, and the best part is that it’s helped me find my tribe – smart, creative, hardworking, tenacious women (and men), who are overcoming similar challenges every day.

They’ve helped me find the good in these hardships. I’m most grateful for them.

We are so inspired by your All Woman staff, how has the dynamic been, and have you had any criticism?

I’m proud of the fact that with each day we’re dispelling this myth around women not being able to work together. We live by one, simple rule: Collaboration over competition.

It’s formed the foundation for how we deliver for clients, deal with conflict, and show support to not only the members of our own team but women in our broader network. It’s also a value that’s been extremely helpful in the hiring process.

Have you had any challenges in the industry as a black-owned company?

I think a lack of belief in our value is probably one of the biggest challenges faced by black-owned businesses in general, it’s not industry-specific.

As a black business owner, I think I’ve often let this self-doubt negatively influence my decision-making. I’ve charged less for services, bent over backward for clients who didn’t necessarily deserve it, etc.

I realize though that this made me part of the problem because it does us a disservice by diminishing our worth. I feel like I’m currently in a season of truly backing not only myself but my team and our ability to deliver.

How is the future looking for Sprout PR?

If the caliber of the brands in our portfolio (the likes of Standard Bank, DHL Supply Chain Africa, Switch Innovation, and the African Fintech Unconference) is anything to go by, the future is looking bright. We have a long way to go and lots of learning to do, but we’re up to the challenge.

What advice do you have for anyone trying to break into the industry?

I have a few pointers…

  • Work on those writing skills, they’re key to your arsenal.
  • Stay at it. Persistence is essential to getting over the rejection of your ideas and stories.
  • Learn to network. You never know when a contact will help you land a dream job or client.
  • Take good care of your online reputation. How else is a brand going to trust you to take care of theirs?
  • Break into the industry with an agency that’s breaking into the market. Startups are a great training ground.

 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Mary Njoki: Glowing from the inside out

Mary Njoki
I had an idea of starting a company that embraced clear communication with its clients & employees Click To Tweet

Mary Njoki is a young leader in the entrepreneurship industry in Kenya. Unemployment is a major challenge faced by Kenyan youth but Mary Njoki defied the odds and began her own company. Glass House PR was created with a starting capital of around Ksh. 6,000 (around $57).

Having studied a different course work in college, she gained her first experience in the media when she interned with K Krew. Her internship ignited her love for Public Relations. Later, she secured a job with an Information Technology company that absorbed her as a marketer. In August 2012, she decided to begin her journey as an entrepreneur. Her contribution to the media industry has been impactful since then.

She admits that starting the company was not an easy and a smooth road. The first year of business was rough because she could not make money. Mary realized that there was a lot of groundwork needed for her company to gain establishment in the industry. Presently, her company has worked with the big companies such as Google and Facebook. Her company is award winning in Kenya and Africa. Mary has won an award in South Africa as a young female entrepreneur.

Who is Mary Njoki beyond Glass House PR?

I am a young woman who is a sanguine-phlegmatic. I seek to serve others while finding fulfillment. My temperament enables me to be social with people and learn from them.

I love prayer. I am a church leader and a sibling of one. Also, I am a leader of different associations in Africa in line with entrepreneurship like Africa Rise. My temperament comes in handy for her career because I able to be articulate and relatable to while addressing people on stage.

How did you create the name of your company?

When I planned to create my own company, I opted for expert opinion about my decision. I approached a brand manager who I told that I had an idea of starting a company that embraced clear communication with its clients and employees.

I was asked by the brand manager what I had in mind and I said, “I wanted clarity and transparency”. This was because of my previous experience at work where I consistently saw this as a challenge.

The manager wrote a list of names that brought out clarity and transparency. Once I saw Glass House PR I instantly realized that this would be the name I would work with.

The first year of Mary Njoki's business was rough, she could not make money Click To Tweet

How have events impacted Glass House PR?

I keep myself updated on the events that can develop the company. I also create events in line with marketing for our company which enables the company to grow.

What is the most important aspect of your life?

I think it is growth. I am actively seeking to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. Growth is key in developing a person holistically.

What is your advice for young people?

Always understand that life is about learning. This will help you grow. It is challenging to live in a world that is information centered. Our generation has a weakness of thinking that we know everything because there is a lot of information released for us. But learning to have an attitude of learning and interacting with people who can mentor you enables a person to grow.

Also, understanding that we live from the inside out. We ought to be people who feed ourselves from the inside out. We cannot give what we do not have. However, learning how to live from the inside out by feeding our souls and spirits makes us live as complete human beings.

Our generation has a weakness of thinking that we know everything because there is a lot of information Click To Tweet

How has Glass House PR impacted the society?

Glass House PR has developed a hangout for young entrepreneurs dubbed a billion start-up. A billion startup is a network of 100 entrepreneurs which enables people to learn and interact with other entrepreneurs for development of their company.

It has created a network for young entrepreneurs. Glass House PR is teaching young entrepreneurs on different levels without a fee. It is offering training for free for young entrepreneurs.

What is the future of Glass House PR?

Glass House PR will be the ultimate outlet for content in Africa. It will build more products to integrate the company as a content hub in Africa. I think that the world offers a platform for everyone to use their skills and improve the world. This gives everyone an audience of their own to become the best in their industry.

If people will live a life on the inside out they will achieve satisfaction. It will make people live true to themselves and the world. The attitude of living a life from the inside out will make a person glow. It will make them glow genuinely without faking anything as opposed to the common belief in the society. This will make people live honest lives that reflect who they are from the inside out.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Mbali Zondo: Surround yourself with people who you admire

Mbali Zondo
Do your homework before networking. Make sure you have introduced yourself to the host if you can Click To Tweet

PR doyenne turned award-winning director Ava Duvernay famously said: “when you’re in your lane there’s no traffic”. Mbali Zondo’s remarkable career journey is a testament to this truth. She continues to cement her place in the world of public relations having worked on global brands such as Apple and Clinique. She does it all with the kind of poise, humility and grace attendant with royalty.

Her enthusiasm for people and technology and how they all come together to direct meaningful conversations about brands through public relations is truly inspiring. She has walked the graduation stage 3 times for disciplines such as marketing and communications from prestigious institutions such as the University of Pretoria.

Not even 30 yet, she continues to startle her peers with her forward thinking approach to creating lasting brand legacies in the digital space. She has the determination, grit, and power to continue to be a game changer in the PR world. Success is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ and Mbali defines this her own way, through her individual journey.

In her work, she continues to remind us all that reputation matters, and that building big brands require long-term, strategic thinking, and a little PR magic.

Why did you choose P.R as a career path?

Growing up, I did not know what PR was, let alone that it could be done as a career choice. All I know was that I wanted to express my creativity and be amongst interesting people at events.

I’m a visual person and I wanted to be featured in magazines or to work with people who worked for magazines.

What are two of the most important lessons you’ve learnt about yourself through your career journey?

Trust your skills but don’t be afraid to improve on them in order to be recognised as an expert in your field.

Surround yourself with people who you admire because this forces you to raise the bar when it comes to excellence.

Tell us about a professional situation when the odds were against you, and how you overcame this?

Part of PR is organising media events. I remember organising an annual lifestyle event and the whole event was scheduled to be outside. This event was scheduled for the end of September and I didn’t take into account that the summer rains in Joburg start at that exact time of the month.

As fate would have it, there was rain predicted for the whole day for the day of the event. I overcame this situation because, with my background with having had used many suppliers before, I was able to call a supplier who gave me a personal referral to a supplier who puts up stretch tents.

Due to having that personal relationship, I was able to negotiate to have the stretch tent set up and ready a day before the rain hit Johannesburg. Needless to say, my team was very impressed that I could think on my feet and get a quick turnaround time with a new supplier.

Success is not a ‘one-size- fits-all’. Success is subjective Click To Tweet

If your life were a movie title what would this be?

Mad Max (with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron). This movie highlights determination, grit, and power in an unexpected and challenging situation. Although battered and bruised in the end, Charlize’s character comes out victorious and succeeded in her mission.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

To me, sisterhood means uplifting other women and sisters without feeling envious of the other woman’s gift or talent. It’s about supporting each other beyond our backgrounds and standing up for one another.

What do you know now, that you wish you knew 5 years ago?

I wish I had known 5 years ago that everyone has a unique path for a reason and that achieving success is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ shoe size. Success is subjective.

I also wish I had known that financial literacy is important and that saving up to buy a house is a long process.

For those who find networking daunting, what are 3 tips you can share?

When it comes to networking if you can take a friend, do so because networking becomes easier when you do it with someone you know and feel comfortable with. When you are comfortable, networking becomes easier.

Share your professional contact details with new connections and stay in touch with them when you can. They will appreciate your efforts of investing in the relationship.

Do your homework before networking. Try and find out who will be on the guest list so you can initiate conversations with people who may have mutual interests with you. Also, familiarise yourself with the purpose of the event and make sure you have introduced yourself to the host if you can as

Trust your skills but don’t be afraid to improve on them Click To Tweet

What skills should every P.R professional have in their “bag of tricks”?

Writing: Every PR Professional needs to be able to write as you will often find yourself in situations where you need to write content, messaging documents etc. Be prepared.

Presentation skills: You need to be able to present ideas or host an event with media, therefore, learning how to present is crucial to PR.

Adaptability: PR is an industry that changes often and as much as you can be organised, sometimes, not everything goes according to plan. A good PR professional needs to be able to adapt accordingly to any situation to remain relevant and resilient.

What is your morning get up and go song?

It has to be Nina Simone: Four Women. This song gives me the confidence to start the week.

What are your plans for the next 5 years professionally?

Over the next 5 years, I’d like to do the following:

  • Be featured in the 40 under 40 Forbes list.
  • Complete a Master’s degree in Creative Brand Leadership.
  • Travel Africa, more so I can gain more experience when it comes business in Africa because we need more women in business in top positions.
  • Start my own boutique PR agency.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

The art of public relations

A degree isn't enough to be a PR specialist, we share insider tools and tricks to the industry Click To Tweet

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds and manages mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the public. This article breaks down public relations for those considering a career in the industry.

Who is the “public”?

Public, in PR terms, is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about a client. Depending on the nature of your client, these could include clients, potential clients, members of the local community, members of the media, online fans etc.

Public relations success requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each the client’s many “publics”. The public relations professional must know how to effectively address those concerns through Publicity.

Why is public relations important to an organisation?

Public relations can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or company generated communications.  The world of business is characterised by fierce competition and in order to win new customers and retain the existing ones, companies not only have to distinguish themselves from the competition but must also create and maintain a positive public image.

A PR specialist or firm helps them both create and maintain a good reputation among both the media and the customers by communicating on their behalf and presenting their products, services and the overall operation in the best light possible.

A positive public image helps create a strong relationship with the customers, which in turn increases the sales. Public relations people working for a company may handle consumer relations, or the relationship between parts of the company such as the managers and employees, or different branch offices.

Which situations or crisis may require public relations?

A client may need PR for many situations including;

  • Technical problems
  • Human error
  • Executive wrongdoing/legal problems
  • Any bad publicity generated from internal or external sources
  • Building a new business or brand
  • Communicating major changes in the organisation that may affect the public, for example, moving to a new location or new management.

How does a PR practitioner work?

A good PR practitioner will analyse the organization, find positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories.

When the news is bad, they can formulate the best response and ease the damage. PR people are image shapers. Their job is to generate positive publicity for their client and enhance their reputation.

A good PR practitioner will analyse the organization and create positive stories Click To Tweet

What are the public relations tools and techniques?

PR specialists use a number of tools and techniques to boost their clients’ public image and help them form a meaningful relationship with the chosen target audience.

To achieve that, they use tools such as;

  • The writing and distribution of press releases
  • Speech writing
  • Creation and execution of special events designed for public outreach and media relations
  • Conduction of market research on the firm or the firm’s messaging
  • Expansion of business contacts via personal networking or attendance and sponsoring at events
  • Writing and blogging for the web (internal or external sites)
  • Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions online
  • Newsletters to new and existing customers

Using the mentioned tools, PR specialists give the target audience a better insight into their clients’ activities and products/services as well as increase publicity.

What skills are required to be a PR specialist?

A PR specialist is usually required to have a relevant type and level of education such as a Bachelor’s degree in Communications or Journalism. Proper education, however, is not enough.

A PR specialist needs certain skills in the first place such as excellent writing and verbal communication skills. Two other important skills for the PR professional are;

  • The ability to work under pressure and to be able to answer a variety of questions including unpleasant ones. For example, if the client is under a public “attack”, a PR specialist needs to establish a control over the situation and protect the client’s good reputation.
  • People who work in PR are regarded as experts in media relations. They’re often asked to train employees on how to effectively communicate with the media, particularly during print or TV interviews. Public relations can’t function without the press. PR professionals spend most of their day maintaining existing relationships and cultivating new ones with journalists and other members of the mass media.

Anyiko Owoko: It starts with you

Anyiko Owoko is a writer and PR maven who has worked with many Kenyan & African stars Click To Tweet

A celebrity publicist, a Public Relations maven, journalist, blogger and all round music and entertainment aficionado -Anyiko Owoko is the perfect definition of more than a triple threat.

The young connoisseur is the publicist to award winning East African music group; Sauti Sol. Starting out as their friend and assistant, Anyiko has risen to media success thanks to her work with the boy band. Anyiko also works with many other talented artists on the continent and beyond who have seen her prowess as an influential communicator and brand strategist.

Now she intends to expand her growing PR company –Anyiko PR and let SLA contributor, Diana Odero in on her journey to where she is now and why she is fuelled by creative people.

You have the incredible role of being Sauti Sol’s publicist. How did this come about?

I have always been their friend to begin with. I was initially friends with Chimano in particular, who I met in 2006 at Alliance Francaise where I was studying French. Funny thing is, we weren’t even in the same class so I don’t really recall how we became friends. Chimano would always tell me about his friends and him singing in high school and now that they were done, they were thinking of starting a music group. He wanted my opinion on that.

So I sort of became their advisor from back in the day and I encouraged them to take on the music group idea. Chimano and I joined the choir at Alliance and we really liked it but Chimano felt that he needed his friend (from high school) to join in as well. We both convinced the choirmaster to allow his friend -Bien Baraza to join, even though non-students weren’t allowed in the choir. Later on Savara and Polycarp, Chimano’s other friends were brought in and they were a full singing group in a choir.

After we completed the French program, we enrolled into University and surprisingly Chimano and I ended up in the same school, in the same course and in the same class. That’s really how it all started and as for me, I’ve always loved writing and communicating.

As a friend, that was a great quality I had that was able to help them get their group off the ground. I have been their road manager, an assistant, I got them onto social media and after several years, they realized that I was the main person doing their publicity. I knew they would become big stars from way back in the day and so I did all I could to secure their brand and maintain their presence in the music industry.

They of course now have a bigger team; I even have my own assistant as well, so at least we have a lot more help than we did when it was just the boys and I.

Did you always want to get into the public relations field?

No, I never saw myself doing this kind of work. PR kind of just found me because of the work I was doing with Sauti Sol. My plan had always been to get into writing and become a journalist. PR is part of communications so it still lies in my preferred field but I guess you can say I ended up specializing in it.

Anyiko Owoko: PR kind of found me because of the work I was doing with Sauti Sol Click To Tweet

I wanted to do broadcast journalism, which I have been doing actually; I’ve been working in TV for the past seven years. I still write though, I write for DStv, for the Daily Nation, I run my own blog and I also write for the Coke Studio website. So I’m still doing what I always wanted to do and I’m grateful to have found something else that I can do that contributes to the industry.

Anyiko Owoko during the BYOB Spark Talks
Anyiko Owoko during the BYOB Spark Talks

How did you know that it was time to leave the employee life and become your own boss?

I recently stopped working in TV this past September because I wanted something new and more challenging and needed a break from my broadcast career. About three years ago, I started feeling this way, I always wanted to leave but it was a bitter-sweet decision to make as that was my first official paying job.

I was still in college when I got that job and for a journalism student, landing a job hosting an entertainment show in a national network was and still is quite a big deal. It was a really great show with great content that you don’t get much of nowadays in Kenya.

I knew I wanted to leave when I realized I wasn’t learning anything new. People would come on the show and I would train them on hosting, reporting, scriptwriting etc. and no one was teaching me anything new. The producer of the show who discovered me had already left the network and I was now answering to his juniors even though I had more creative experience than they did.

In addition, things were really changing fast in the world of media, including social media . The show was stagnant and I started interviewing the same artists all over again due to lack of content so it was getting too monotonous for me.

I knew I wanted to leave my job when I realized I wasn’t learning anything new - Anyiko Owoko Click To Tweet

Now I have my own column in Yummy Magazine where I interview all kinds of celebrities discussing food and lifestyle, which is something I never thought I would do. I started my own company and all this has been the breathe of fresh air that I really needed.

As a celebrity publicist now, can you tell us which artist has been the most pleasant to work with and which interview has been the most impactful to you?

I really don’t know, probably all of them. I don’t think there’s a way for me to gauge that because I meet a lot of people and the impact is really vast. Almost every single interview I have done has impacted me because most of them have very powerful stories of where they came from.

For example, Nigerian artist, Patoranking used to be a street boy. He lived in the biggest slum in Nigeria and now he’s the biggest dancehall artist in Nigeria. Our very own Octopizzo took me to where he used to live before the he became a big artist. It was in the middle of Kibera (Nairobi’s biggest slum), in such a tiny house.

I remember when he put out his first video, I was the first one to interview him in Kenya on TV. Then people looked down on him, but look at him now. Sauti Sol also got their first interview courtesy of me. It was in the school paper at university, where I was the features editor. Such moments make me remember why I do what I do.

My work gave these artists a platform that took them to greater stardom in the long run. It’s very hard to choose a favourite because there’s something special about each person I interview.

Anyiko Owoko: My work gave artists a platform that took them to greater stardom Click To Tweet

If you could be anything else (career wise) what would you be and why?

Oh my God, almost anything! I always wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger, an architect, a musician, and a policewoman at some point. An author…

There’s so many things I wanted to do and I could easily have done them all. I didn’t realize that I wanted to do journalism until much later in life.

Anyiko speaking on a panel discussing the proposed Kenya National Music Policy. Photo Credit: Julian Manjahi
Anyiko speaking on a panel discussing the proposed Kenya National Music Policy. Photo Credit: Julian Manjahi

Name three women who inspire you and why.

My mother:

She is such a hard-working and powerful woman. My dad passed away when I was 9 years old and we are five kids, one boy and four girls. She raised us all so well; I never felt like something was missing even though I did miss my dad’s presence. There isn’t anything I think he could have done to raise me any better than she did. She did the work for both of them so I never felt like I was missing out.

My mother always empowered me and even while I was undecided about my career choices, she was always supportive. She shaped who I am today and as an English teacher she taught me how to talk and write. At the age of 10, I was helping her grade English essays for students in higher classes than me. She didn’t realize she was helping mould me into a good writer and journalist.

Caroline Mutoko:

She is a no-nonsense person who keeps to her word. Everyone knows how hard-working she is, and that she is good at what she does. When she was on radio she was very tough and never minced her words.

Caroline Mutoko inspires me with the way she grew her brand and became the media mogul that she is now. That growth curve shows me that even now, where I am, who knows where my experience can take me. She’s shown me the possibilities of where I can get to.

Michelle Obama:

She is tough and also very powerful. She is a great example of how women in power should carry themselves. People believe this myth that a woman shouldn’t be a leader because they are not as good as men in the leadership aspect. Michelle has put all those misconceptions to bed with her strength and her belief in all that she champions.

She goes above and beyond in everything she does. For a black woman to make me and all black women and girls so proud is a very big point of inspiration. She has a lot of grace, style and is very caring. We forget that as women, we don’t have to give up our femininity just because of the fields we work in.

What advise would you give to young future Motherland Moguls looking to get into PR?

I would tell them to sharpen their communication and writing skills. Writing reports are the most important actually and they should concentrate on achieving their objective and making the client happy.

That’s basically it. Keep calm during a crisis; while people yell and come at you, the best thing to do is keep your cool. There’s nothing much you can do in a crisis until a solution is found.

What mantra do you live by?

Go out there and make your dreams a reality. I’m a dreamer and as are so many people out there; but they are always saying how difficult it is to achieve their dreams. It starts with you though.

If I don’t get out, you don’t get out, no change will happen. People will always put you down, but what if you get out there and actually do it? You have to keep pushing until you see your dreams come to life.

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

How to get started in PR with no money, no clients

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There’s a long list of business ideas that we willingly admit are hard to pull off without money, connections and clients. PR is one of them so when we got an opportunity to talk with Sasha Robyn who co-founded a PR company before starting BlogChatSA, South Africa’s first exclusive online bloggers show. Sasha’s I-may-be-a-rookie-but-I-can-do-it stance has helped her and we think it can help you too.

Here’s Sasha’s easily replicable winning formula for getting started in PR.

The skills you need

In order to succeed in the PR industry, you need to acquire skills that will help you grow and stay grounded in the nature of the business. These skills are

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Creativity

img_20160617_211017Most important is the last one, creativity and perseverance. While it’s still debatable whether perseverance is a skill or a trait, it’s needed to keep you on track and ensure success.

Then comes the somewhat cliché word for Motherland Moguls; passion. You’ll need a strong drive to put in and offer your best to your client. This will set you aside from any other PR agency.

As for the resources, get a laptop where you can create a clients’ database. This will be a list of people to whom you render services. A laptop will also help  you create the social media strategy you’ll be needing to grow your company.

Setting up a PR agency with no money

Apparently in PR, money is not always needed to get your company off the ground. Sasha advises that an easier way to branch out into PR and make yourself known is to build on relationships and valuable contacts.

Then, create an online presence for yourself and/or your business. Your business will not flourish or draw interest from the broader public if you do not make use of social media platforms. They assist in driving the business and bring clients to you who are in need of the service that you project online.

When you build a website for your agency, make sure you keep it professional and simple.

Getting started on networks

Networks in business are important as they form part of the driving success of the business. In PR, your business thrives off the services that you provide to your clients.

According to Sasha, how and where you connect with people will determine the success and efficiency of your business. Attend events/seminars that would allow you to network with people. Consider engaging in public speaking as this would allow you to brand your company on a word-of-mouth basis. It’ll also make it easy for clients to connect with you and/or your business.

Source for people who have experience and knowledge in PR and can assist you in building your brand. Do your research on companies/people and the media (depending on your interest in the field).

Sasha’s 5-step plan to break into the PR industry

It takes a lot of dedication and determination to make your mark in PR. Whether you want to launch your own agency or find a job with another agency, these steps will help.

  1. Understand the media universe, including social media
  2. Find your niche/product/service
  3. Education/training
  4. Research local PR Agencies: learn their culture, areas of focus and how they functions.
  5. Network, Network, Network

Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

Upgrade your PR Game: Lessons from Wimbart Global PR & Media #SheHiveLondon

Jessica Hope Wimbart Hope She Leads Africa

Jessica Hope, founder and managing director of Wimbart PR joined us over the weekend at #SheHiveLondon. With over a decade of experience at places like iROKOTv, Jessica launched Wimbart Hope earlier this year. No matter the size of your business or brand, PR can help upgrade your business. In this installment of the #SheHiveLondon catch up, we share key takeaways from Jessica’s sessions on how to master the PR game.

On the importance of PR for African businesses

PR can help your business or brand majorly by giving you that all-important exposure. It expands your audience and helps prove that you are legit: it’s one thing to tell someone that you’re great, but when other publications or news outlets do it, it’s another level.

Someone reads about you, they get curious and start to build trust in your product. That’s what brings you one step closer to closing a deal or making a sale.

On starting her own business

After over 10 years of building and honing her PR skills, Jessica Hope stepped out to launch one Wimbart PR. Wimbart found it’s niche: African Tech startups and it is flourishing. She never let any social challenges get in the way – recalling one time she went to an industry event six months pregnant and still managed to close multiple deals.

She recognised that business is about making that personal connection. So by putting your real authentic self out there, all sorts of opportunities jump out at you. Mentoring also helped her to make the move from employee to M.D. Having worked for university friend turned iROKO TV CEO Jason Njoku, he encouraged her to take the plunge.

On developing the right PR strategy

Start to build your own narrative. Your narrative is the story of your brand and how your product is going to help customers. It’s what makes you unique and interesting. It’s not just about the story though, if you can back it up with good data and already have endorsements from other people, your story gets stronger.

When you’ve crafted your story you can pitch it to publications, to in-house journalists and freelancers why can then feature your work to their audience of thousands (and maybe even millions if you’re lucky).


On working well with the press

Creating the right narrative isn’t the only important thing to do, you have to be a careful planner. Everything in publishing works on schedule, so if you’re interested in getting a story in for Christmas, you should be pitching it to publications months in advance.

Ask around, go to industry events to meet journalists and get to know what they want. (That’s right networking is unavoidable, no matter how awkward it might seem at first).

Remember many businesses are trying to do what you’re doing, and sometimes being one of the first to reach out to the press will give you the upper hand. Journalists are on strict schedules and also quite cynical make sure your pitch is high-quality, interesting and timely. Remember while the goal is to build your media presence, it doesn’t always happen overnight.

Be patient and be prepared to get ignored at times, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Just stick with it, persistence pays off.

On embracing the quirks of your brand or business

To put it frankly, the fact that you exist is not news. When pitching your brand or business you need to think about what your ‘so what?’ is. News outlets get hundreds of stories a day, what is it about you that is specifically interesting?

Jessica used the example of AfroEmoji. While the app was relatively simple, it was pitched to the international market as ‘Africa’s first Emoji brand’.The app got featured on CNN and the Huffington Post which led to thousands of downloads.

Even though there were a few side-eyes about how the African Emojis all looked suspiciously Nigerian, the controversy helped the buzz and put it on the map. Embrace your quirks and let your personality come out. You can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try.


On building partnerships with the press

The African business ecosystem is still being figured out by international media, this means that it can be tough to get noticed. You can help journalists out by giving them context and a full backstory around your journey so far.

On the plus side, unlike some African publications, Western publications don’t usually charge for editorial features (nothing better than saving some $$$).

Never forget that relationships with journalists can move from purely business to a more personal connection in the long-term. When you think of this as a journey, not just a one-time goal, developing PR partnerships comes right into your reach.