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.

Sharon Moatshe: A PR Business Must Not Over-Promise and Under-Deliver


From the dusty streets of Kagiso township in Gauteng, South Africa, Sharon Moatshe has  tapped into the world of entrepreneurship at a young age, and believes that she can create whatever door she wants to open. After many months of looking for a job after graduating, the solution was simple, start a business with the limited resources that she had and survive.

Currently, she is the Director and Co-founder( along with Unathi Dingiswayo) at PR House of Creatives, a motivational speaker, wife and mother.

In her words: she didn’t believe she would end up so great; but here we are. Take a walk with us in this interview as we look into Sharon’s amazing work, and how she’s helping startups thrive in South Africa.

Take us on a walk through PR House of Creatives

PR House Of Creatives was co-founded by Sharon Moatshe and Unathi Dingiswayo after a long time spent job searching, and the resultant unhappiness of not seeing the change we wanted to see in our lives for ourselves.

We were then able to identify the necessity of PR and marketing, pertaining to brand management for SME’s within our community.


What support systems are critical to companies like yours?

Financial backing to ensure that costs are covered for: the technology used in ensuring we deliver real-time results, keeping up with current news & trends, graphics for content. As well as for our PR travels.

Another important thing is mentorship from big PR Firms and structures. PR is not an easy industry for businesses to remain sustainable, your business many come and go because of lack of mentorship.




What innovations have helped your business stand out from competitors?

For a previous client of ours, Distinkt Vodka, we made media kits with vodka bottles and we had packaged these in potato bags, because the primary ingredient of vodka is potatoes. We draw our inspiration from client products/ services, and conceptualise from that point.


What challenges have helped your company grow over the years?

We have had challenges with regards to what we charge our clients. We have had to learn that SME’s are still growing and not making much money, but ,we must still charge a price that allows us to grow and sustain our business.


Know your WHY, your business exists as a solution to a problem Click To Tweet


What values are critical for success in the PR business?

Intergrity. A PR business must not over promise and under deliver! Always be a person of your word. Execute and do your very best to match the concept you sold your client.



What is your greatest success story thus far?

Our greatest success story has to be TG Foods and Events! We started with the team in the township when they were starting out, we poured our hearts into our work with TG. After a few months of working together the team got their own shop which they cater food from in an uptown busy market! The place is big and beautiful.

The teams understands the importance of their brand, even when they keep growing they continued using our services! It’s been beautiful watching them grow from strength to strength and knowing our creative team is a part of this journey.


Always be a person of your word Click To Tweet


What’s the next step for your company? Any plans to help small businesses outside the shores of South Africa?

We would love to first help small businesses in South Africa grow and sustain that growth, then certainly the rest of Africa will have a piece of our goodness!

The first thing businesses cut-out when they sinking/struggling is marketing and PR, which is more like stopping the clock to save time. We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business.


We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business. Click To Tweet



One phrase that resonates with your business strategy?

Creative team of all trades and master of all!

Do you run a PR company?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

Public Relations vs. Advertising

In PR, The “public” is anyone who ever has/will form an opinion about the client Click To Tweet

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds and manages mutually beneficial relationships between Organizations and the Public. The “public” is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client.

These could include clients, potential clients, members of the community, the media, online fans etc. Public relations success requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each of these and how to effectively address them through Publicity.

What is advertising?

Advertising is the act of announcing, praising or drawing attention to a product, service or event in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance.

What are the similarities between Public Relations and Advertising?

PR agencies and advertising agencies share the same goals: promoting clients and making them seem as successful, honest, important, exciting or relevant as possible.

But the paths to achieving this are different.

PR & advertising agencies share the same goals but different paths to achieving them Click To Tweet

How is Public Relations different from Advertising?

Newspapers, radio and TV stations (especially local ones) are always looking for fresh story ideas, particularly those with a “human interest” angle.

A PR professional crafts press releases resembling a compelling news story, making it clear why his client’s product, service or personal history is important. The goal is to fulfill the journalist’s requirement for news while enhancing the client’s image in the public eye.

  • PR agencies, as opposed to advertising agencies, promote companies or individuals via editorial coverage. This is known as “earned” or “free” media stories appearing on websites, newspapers, magazines and TV programs as compared to “paid media” or advertisements.
  • Since advertising is paid for by the client, it is thus viewed with skepticism. Articles or TV appearances in respected publications have the advantage of third-party validation and are generally viewed more favourably.
  • Another huge difference is the price. Public Relations in the media is free if done directly by the company. PR firms also charge monthly retainers or can be hired for specific projects. Advertising can be very pricey when you figure the cost of the space or time plus the creative designs and production costs. And most advertisements need to be repeated several times before the consumer can be influenced.
  • Publicity has greater longevity than advertising. An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an advert.
  • Publicity also reaches a far wider audience than advertising generally does. Sometimes, your story might even be picked up by the national media, spreading the word about your business all over the country.
An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an advert Click To Tweet

Advantages of Public Relations over Advertising

Advertising builds exposure whilst Public Relations build trust. Advertising leaves a sceptical audience whilst public relations because of its endorsement by the media, validates and legitimises the audience.

Because it’s in their best interest to sell you more ads, advertisers tell clients what they want to hear whilst PR people who deal with crises, image enhancement and creation of long-term relationships, where your story often must be accepted by others (the media) before you obtain recognition, will tell you what you need to hear.

Advantages of Advertising over Public Relations

Advertisers maintain creative control of output whilst Public Relations has no final say in output which rests in the hands of the media.

Advertising uses visuals whilst Public Relations use language for persuasion. With Advertising, you are guaranteed of a placement in the media platform but with Public

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.

Mahlodi Legodi: I manage the business, God owns it

Mahlodi Legodi

Public relations is basically free advertising. The thing is, it is important to be able to relate with the people on which your business relies. It is those relationships that will make people support your vision by choosing your product or services over your competitors. As a client I’d want some transparency, I mean who supports a vision they don’t understand? Mahlodi Legodi will help you with that. 

With 5 years experience in Public Relations, Mahlodi has managed and improved the media relations and reputation for prominent African and international brands. Notable among these are Carlson Rezidor (Radisson Blu Hotel group), LG Electronics, Bosch power tools, Ask Afrika and Subinite. With this extensive clientele base spanning corporate, consumer and retail sectors, Mahlodi has overseen and executed successful internal and external campaigns, exhibitions, product and service launches, media roundtables, internal and external communication strategies.

SLA content fellow Rumbie had the opportunity to interview Mahlodi Legodi and this is what the PR guru had to share…

Mahlodi Legodi, some of the readers would want to know what the
few months before starting up your company were like.

Starting a company isn’t an easy process! The first few months before I decided to embark on this entrepreneurship journey I spent in prayer, research, planning and preparation for the birth of FR Communications Pty Ltd.

It is very important to gather as much information about your business venture. Speak with a few industry players about what worked for them and what didn’t in order to position yourself well in the industry.

Mahlodi Legodi

From the outset what was your mission?

Our mission is to create and deliver award-winning services to our clients by providing modern strategic and creative ideas that are tailored to clients’ business objectives.
We aim to be crucial creative partners to the brands that require effective and professionally executed PR and Communications solutions.

Did you ever consider letting go and probably getting yourself a 9 -5?

No, I have never considered getting another 9 to 5.

The beauty of venturing into business for me came with the assurance that I had nothing to worry or stress about for greater is He that is in me (1 John 4:4) than he (challenges or struggles) that is in the world. I manage the business but God owns it!

What gets you out of bed every morning?

What gets me up in the morning is the reminder that my clients trusted me enough with their brands (dreams, aspirations and livelihood) accompanied with the love and passion for what I do.

When you lead your industry through communication, ensure it's not just pretty but right Click To Tweet

‘FR Communications believes in the importance of not just having a great idea but to have the “right idea”.’ How do you know your idea is the right idea?

We are committed to setting brands apart in a crowded marketplace by offering unique, innovative and media savvy PR services that don’t only focus on creating great ideas but delivering the right ideas. Ideas which produce proven results that have a direct and positive impact on our clients brands.

The right idea is more than just something you’re excited about —it is an idea that is actually viable to ensure the overall success of the clients business and communication needs. The right idea will always solve a business problem and set your brand apart in the industry in a memorable way. It is extremely hard to consistently create content that’s truly unique and new. So when you do have the chance to lead your industry through your communication, you have to take it and ensure it’s not just great (pretty looking, sounds amazing) but it’s right (viable, educational, factual, and speaks to your target audience)

It is extremely hard to consistently create content that’s truly unique and new. So when you do have the chance to lead your industry through your communication, you have to take it and ensure it’s not just great (pretty looking, sounds amazing) but it’s right (viable, educational, factual, and speaks to your target audience)

Mahlodi Legodi

What is the most gratifying part of your position as owner and senior consultant?

In this role, I learned that if God puts authority and credibility in your life, the title (owner and senior consultant) is irrelevant. I do everything from filling, writing, recons, mentoring, and media monitoring.

What does it take to be a co-owner of a company? Who do you need to be connected to and what does one need to bring to the table as a cofounder/ coowner?

Being a co-founder of a company means that you are part of a team that came together to compliment each other and validate the plans concerning the company before implementing them.

When you decide to get into partnership with someone in business (being a co-owner/co-founder), it is very important to have a mutual understanding and vision of the products and services that you want to provide to the market and how you will ensure the company continues to grow.
A partnership agreement should contain the following:
  • It needs to define who contributes what: You need to discuss with your business partner what you both will be bringing to the table in terms of labour, cash, clients, property etc. Who plans on working on the business full-time, part-time or just act as a silent partner?
  •  It is very important to define who gets paid what: This consists of an outline of how profits will be distributed. Will each partner be paid a salary for his or her role in the business? If so, how much? And what about any extra profits for the year?
  • You need to be able to define how decisions get made: What type of decisions require unanimous votes, and what type of daily decisions can be made by a single partner? Discussing these matters upfront and deciding what decision-making structure will let your business run the most effectively is important in a joint venture.
If a co-founder doesn’t come to their part as agreed, their decisions and actions could lead to the downfall or the business, employees not being paid on time and clients been unhappy with the services provided.

What personal trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

Being a perfectionist. That is one of the reasons why I find myself working at wee hours and only sleeping for 2 or 3 hours often.

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.

How to use media platforms to grow your business

Build your public presence and reach new customers with these tips Click To Tweet

Public relations can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media. The world of business is characterised by fierce competition.

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 which helps create a strong relationship with the customers and in turn increases the sales.

How to build your public presence

All you have to do is let others know you exist and that you are an expert source of information or advice about your industry. Being regarded as an industry expert can do wonders for your business.

These six steps will be useful;

  1. Start by making sure you know everything you can about your business, product, and industry.
  2. Talk to as many groups as possible such as with public speaking engagements. Do it free of charge, of course, and keep it fun, interesting and timely.
  3. Contact industry trade publications and volunteer to write articles, columns or opinion pieces.
    Offer seminars or demonstrations related to your business. For example, a travel agency may recommend the best and safest destinations for the Christmas holidays.
  4. Host or appear as a regular guest or contributor to a local radio or TV talk show.
  5. Capitalise in well-run platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where you can post about your current specials, discounts and new products around the clock.
  6. Preparing media or press kits

Effective publicists have great relationships with many different journalists in many different industries. Keep ready-made kits at hand for the media. Your kit could include executive profiles, quick facts about your organization, such as its company history, photographs, detailed product descriptions; even samples and business cards.

How to prepare a pitch to the media for publication

If you’d like media platforms to cover the work the work you do, you’ll need to first pitch to the media. These steps should come in handy.

  1. Write your positioning statement. This sums up in a few sentences what makes your business different from the competition and what your Unique selling point (USP) is.
  2. List your objectives. What do you hope to achieve for your company through the publicity plan you put into action? List your top five goals in order of priority and be specific and set timelines.
  3. Identify your target customers. Are they male or female? What age range? What are their lifestyles, incomes and buying habits? Where do they live?
  4. Identify your target media. List the newspapers and TV and radio programs in your area that would be appropriate outlets. Make a complete list of the media you want to target, then call them and ask whom you should contact regarding your area of business.
  5. Develop story angles. Keeping in mind the media you’re approaching, make a list of story ideas you can pitch to them. Develop story angles you would want to read about or see on TV. Brainstorm ideas for example, if you own a clothing store, one angle could be to donate clothes to the local women’s shelter.
  6. Make the pitch. Put your thoughts on paper, and send them to the reporter in a “pitch letter.” Make the letter short and include your contact details so the reporter can contact you.
  7. Following up is the key to securing coverage. Wait a few days then follow up your pitch letter with a telephone call. Always be courteous when speaking to journalists bearing in mind that they are busy individuals.
  8. Send a thank you note to the reporter after the publication of your story.

Phumeza Langa: I’m a serial opportunity sharer, I cannot help myself

People have powerful stories to share and @phumezamzai encounters them as a freelance writer Click To Tweet

Phumeza Langa is a communications consultant and freelance writer from Jo’burg with a passion for uplifting women through her work and life. By day, she is a part of the marketing and communications team at ADT Security, and evenings are for exploring her true passion; writing!

Phumeza’s writing is witty, vulnerable and relatable and always carries within it a feminist element of empowerment. SLA contributor Anelisa Nokoyo had a chance to interview this budding star to find out what makes her tick and what her future plans are.

Tell us about yourself, who is Phumeza?

Phumeza is an only child, born and raised in Johannesburg. I am a social introvert –I read that phrase somewhere, I quite like it. Currently, I’m a lapsing gym-goer (I hate admitting that); a bookworm and I binge watch series in the early hours of some weekend mornings.

I am married to a wonderful man, we’re making a life for ourselves as East Randers whilst enjoying as many sho’t left travels as possible.

What inspired your foray into the communications industry?

I literally stumbled into the communications industry. I was in my Matric year and I had no real idea what I wanted to do after high school. So I went to the guidance counsellor at the time and based on her observations and what she knew of me, she suggested Public Relations.

Fast forward a few years, I graduated from the University of Johannesburg and started working in PR agencies. When I was younger I had ideas of being a correspondent, similar to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. I was fascinated by her work, but more so because she was in conflict zones and reporting on the other side of the war stories we hardly ever hear about –the people’s stories- and ensuring that us, the viewers are aware and know what’s happening in the world.

Being a writer allows me to do that as well in my own way, and it has been amazing thus far! I get goosebumps every single time I listen to the interview recordings I’ve done already –people have such powerful stories and lessons to share.

You speak a lot about empowering and connecting women through your work. Tell us, how do you go about realising your vision every day?

A lot of the time it’s really just trying to connect one woman to another one, whether it’s through knowing one woman who can assist another with a project; partner up with for a venture or even if I can help someone with a contact number or email.

I’m a serial opportunity sharer, I cannot help myself. If I know you’re into something, you’re pursuing a passion or thinking of a venture, if I hear or read about something that is related to that, then I will share the information with you and applaud you when I see you rock it good!

The other times it’s through my writing and the profiling of women from various backgrounds who are making a positive impact in not only their lives but in the lives of the people around them –whether it’s with their family or their community– through an initiative or business. It is only in recent years that we’re hearing and seeing more positive stories of women doing their very best in what they have chosen to do. I love that! I know there are so many more of these women out there, we all know them and we need to uplift them and one another.

Mrs South Africa finalists
Phumeza Langa with Mrs South Africa finalists

What are some of the challenges that have appeared as obstacles in your journey thus far?

The one that I have recently started working through is being unable to pursue a course that I had been accepted to do this year. I was unsuccessful in securing a scholarship through some of the places I had applied to. This left me devastated, it wasn’t easy emailing the institution to let them know that I could not take up my spot.

I had to acknowledge that I did well in being accepted in the first place –something I didn’t think I would. It would have been the start of a completely different direction of what I’m doing now at work, but it was in line with what I want to be doing more of in the long term.

I’m starting to see the whole experience as a lesson in believing in myself more. I’m having those honest conversations with myself to figure out why I didn’t even trust in myself to hold my own. It is an uncomfortable conversation but very necessary, because what we believe of ourselves and our abilities can limit us and what we are capable of achieving in our lives. Yes, the path I thought I would be taking isn’t quite open to me in the manner in which I thought it would but it does not stop me from moving forward and doing what I had set out to do.

What we believe of our abilities can limit us and what we achieve - Phumeza Langa Click To Tweet

There will always be obstacles that need to be overcome, it’s always a matter of reminding myself that I have to carry on. There is more beyond that moment of hardship -like the good things in life that are to be treasured.

When did you discover your love for writing and what are your future plans as a writer?

My writing started in high school but it was only after my first published piece in 2003 that I really took it seriously. I am that girl who still tries to write letters as often as possible: paper, pen and envelope –everything!

When I was at UJ, I jumped at the opportunity to be the Bunting Road campus editor for the UJ Observer and reported to the editor at Kingsway campus. I knew very little about copy-editing and getting a team of writers together to work on our submissions but it was such an unforgettable experience. Those weekly morning editorial meetings in the PR Department’s boardroom were awesome!

During my time working in agency, I started with gadget reviews, learning about technology and writing about it. Over time it’s evolved to lifestyle, education and profile pieces. There is a blog in the mix too, which I admit needs more of my attention. I am loving what my focus areas are now in my writing, in time I would like to do more technical pieces to flex my writing muscles and broaden my knowledge. I have so much to learn about my craft, that really excites me and there is more to explore with it.

I have so much to learn about my craft, that really excites me @phumezamzai Click To Tweet

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.

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