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.


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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Lifelong Learning: 5 Lies You Tell Yourself

What comes to mind when you think of “lifelong learning”? Oh, wait. Did you just roll your eyes and give a defeated sigh? Girl, we know the feeling. Some of your feelings might be valid but here are some thoughts you might have that are definitely wrong. Here are some of the lies you probably tell yourself all year round which eventually hinders your growth:

I have a degree. What am I still learning?

Big mistake, sister. When did you graduate? 2, 5, 10 years ago? The world is changing fast and we need to evolve.  Standing in one spot only means that others are going to overtake you and take opportunities that should’ve been yours. Look at Nokia. How long did it take for them to lose their position as Number 1 phone maker? To be a successful Motherland Mogul, you need to keep learning the new trends in your industry.

I am an expert in my field

It’s very easy for us to settle for what we think we know is best. But does learning ever stop? If you have plans to branch out and innovate your brand, you need to prepare yourself! Are there other things you learn from other industries that may be linked to yours? There is so much more to learn about your passions, hobbies, and interests. Ask yourself questions such as ‘how badass is my excel skills’? When was the last time I gave a presentation that was wowed my audience? Take the time to improve and build on what you already have and what you need to make yourself better.

I don’t have money for courses.

In this day and age, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to learn! With a stable internet connection and time, you can access so many free resources online. From Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, YouTube and the many blogs and articles out there; the options are endless. But once you choose to make this investment, you start the journey towards a successful and educated life.

I don’t have time to learn.

Let’s rephrase that as “I don’t make out time for learning new things because it’s not a priority.” Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Well, it’s true. We all make time for things that we consider priorities. Catching up on social media, binging on Netflix, attending owambe parties. But if we think about it, we spend many hours every week on things that aren’t really adding to our bottom line. If you’re one of those superwomen who resists all such temptations and still can’t find the time to learn, what about the time you spend in traffic? With the developments of education and technology, you can learn anywhere and everywhere! So, don’t make excuses for wanting to learn. If you believe in investing in yourself, then you will make the time to learn more.

I’m too old to learn

Lol! Did you know the oldest person to graduate college was 95 years old? We’re never too old to learn. Even if you have started a family and gotten 7 children, it’s never too late! It’s all about prioritizing. We can always learn new tricks! You’ve probably run out of excuses now. But don’t let this daunt you. The trick is to start small. Pick one skill and set yourself a target of one hour a week to develop it. If you don’t know where to start, Google resources and create a learning calendar.   Once you set milestones and give yourself small treats every now and then, you’ll be surprised by what you learn in a few months.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Webinar with Wild Fusion: How to grow your business with digital marketing (Apr.11)

Are you wondering why your business is not getting the online attention it deserves? Or why Facebook and Instagram is not really working for you?

Hold up! Lets educate you a bit more on digital marketing!

 It has been proven by many successful businesses, that digital marketing is the way forward to boost and expand your business online. But what you need to know now is how to keep up its evolving and ever changing strategies.

Join us on Tuesday April 11th for a webinar with 2 professionals from Wild Fusion – Africa’s leading digital marketing agency, who have been in the digital marketing game for awhile. Agatha Emina – (General Manager) and Prashant Kirpalani – (Social Media Manager) of Wild Fusion, as they share with us fresh and unknown strategies of digital marketing every business owner must know of.

During this webinar, you’ll get direct answers from these professionals on any digital marketing related question you ask, so, you don’t want to miss it!

Register below to get the exclusive link to the webinar.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • Digital marketing for African start-ups
  • The top 4 mistakes you need to stop making on your business social media page
  • Strategies you can use to gain more customers without breaking your budget

Webinar details:

  • Date: Tuesday April. 11th, 2017
  • Time: 2pm Lagos // 3pm Johannesburg // 4pm Nairobi

Help us spread the word:

Sign up for this webinar with @Wildfusion to increase your business social media reach (Apr.11) Click To Tweet

Watch this webinar:

About our experts:

Agatha Emina - wild fusion digital

Agatha Eminais an online enthusiast with over 7 years working experience in the digital industry from the client side and the agency side. She has worked as a Digital Strategist and Project Manager in the financial, e-business, online advertising and traditional advertising industries. With her strong understanding of digital marketing and project management skills, Agatha has executed award winning digital campaigns across various sectors including FMCG brands, Telecom, Finance and more. Some of her latest works includes taking Close Up and Knorr Nigeria online and enabling these brands succeed while increasing Returns on Marketing Spend.

Prashant Kirpalani

Prashant Kirpalani,  is a social media enthusiast who is certified in Google Analytics, Social Media and Digital Marketing. His work experience cuts across social media strategy, Google Analytics, Facebook and pay per click advertising, blogging, website management and forum management. He has a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology where he created a social media network targeting students who wished to study abroad for his final year project.

 

 

Your guide to dressing in the workplace

Dressing matters.

Entering the corporate world as a young lady, I struggled finding out what it takes to get ahead. Apart from being good at what I do, I was clueless in terms of being presentable and my dressing. I couldn’t decide if I needed to be sexy and fashionable until it hit me. Did it matter how I looked? Of course, yes!! How you dress matters, it actually matters a lot.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Dress up every day with the aim of creating a lasting first impression. In the corporate environment you meet different people every day and you never know who is studying you. The image you create greatly influences the way you are viewed in the office.

With the primary goal being to “feel good” about the way I looked, I had to project a positive image. Feeling good about myself helped me naturally convey confidence and professionalism. It also gave me a positive attitude, which was all I needed to get ahead.

Although there may be no set rules as to how one should dress, at times our choice is determined by our occupation or location. Your goal is to look the part, and for appearance to be consistent with the type of work you do. A college campus might be the perfect forum to show off the latest trends in fashion style, the office environment however, is not the place to do so. A conservative suit would be the recommended style for professional and managerial positions while overalls are for a construction job.

I could go on and on about what to wear and what not to, avoiding too short skirts and wearing too much bling blah blah blah…we can all recite those off-head. To cut it all short here’s a few pointers to take note of from me;

 

1. Create your own brand

Come up with an overall image you want to portray in the workplace. Then, go about buying and choosing the clothes that fit this image. Try mixing and matching casual, fun clothes with formal attire to add a personal flair to your style of clothing. Pair patterned or brightly-coloured tops to add a spark to a suit. You can also choose a patterned suit with a solid top. Just make sure what you choose to wear reflects a little of your personality.

 

2. Understand your body

Know your body type and choose styles that show it off in a professional way. Wear clothing that is fitted and highlights your best physical features without being revealing or raunchy. To me, nothing is sexier than a woman who shows off her stuff while not showing bare skin. Dress to express who you are inside without baring your assets on the outside. Not only is wearing inappropriate clothing distracting, it can also give off an inaccurate impression. I’m curvy and gifted in all the right places, but trust me, I will never be caught in a short skimpy outfit. The office environment is not meant for that. Looking sexy is alright but do it in a classy-professional way.

chimamanda adichie

 

3. Understand what’s appropriate in your industry

Dressing culture varies from uniforms to suits and overalls depending on the line of business. Some businesses simply require employees to be more formal than others. In the fashion industry, models need to keep up with the latest trends however, corporate professionals are not taken seriously unless the show up in formal suits. Perceptions on dressing differ and office environments need to take into consideration both the clients and fellow industry professionals. You will have to understand and appreciate the perception your company dress code may have on all of these people.

 

4. Make sure your clothes ‘fit’

Appearance whether classy and confident or relaxed and trendy, is often reduced to how well clothes fits. If they are too big or too small, trust me they won’t look good on you. A proper fit applies to everything including clothing, the shoes, and the accessories. Baggy clothing will not highlight or enhance you in any way, instead it may make you look less professional or even heavier than you are. The same applies to smaller and tighter clothing.

Makeup and hair can also negatively affect perceptions of women in the workplace, but that’s a tipping point for another day…

Webinar with Clarissa Bannor: Managing The Freelance Life (Apr 22)

Clarissa Bannor This Afropolitan Life

Missed this event? Make sure you don’t miss the next one by joining our community today.

Salute to all the Motherland Moguls out there who’ve decided that they’re going to use their hard earned skills and talents to freelance full time and create an independent lifestyle for themselves.

Jay Z Salute

 

While the daily independence and opportunity to wear sweatpants while taking conference calls is exciting, not knowing where your next paycheck will be coming from and how to access bigger opportunities can be very stressful.

If you want to maximize your life as a freelancer and grow your business, join us on Friday April 22 for a webinar with Clarissa Bannor who has built a successful career as a freelance writer and public relations consultant so that she can spend more time with her two daughters.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to build your portfolio and find new opportunities
  • Tech tools you can use to manage your time, finances and projects
  • How to make sure people actually pay you on time
  • What to consider when thinking about how much you’ll charge

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Friday April 22, 2016
  • Time: 10:00am EST // 3:00pm WAT // 5:00pm EAT
  • Location: When you register below you will be sent the private webinar link

About Clarissa Bannor:

Clarissa Bannor is a Ghanaian-American freelance writer and publicist. Get Out There PR (GOTPR?), her boutique PR agency, is her solution to helping startups, creatives, and small businesses gain market share and international visibility on a shoestring budget. She blogs at www.ThisAfropolitanLife.com.