🤔 that’s how I should actually start all my interviews from now on yazi. It’s been a long time coming and ndi ready to openly own this because it’s actually a blessing more than a frustrating character. Fun fact – it seems very rare to have introvert and publicist in a sentence together but re ba ngata jwang in the industry.
So I hardly talk about my 9-5 (it’s longer 🙈) on my blog because this is my space, my little getaway from my everyday life, a place where I get to talk about naarce things I experience, inspiring stories you guys share with me and how much my love life sucks 🙈🤣🙈 but asikholapho right now babes.
After a very hectic day at work about 2 weeks ago, Boitumelo (a friend who works ko YFM and also owns a music blog called Musicology) asked me to come through their station to talk about my work as a publicist 🙈 Shuuu, my first thought was to tell her I’m so busy I won’t be available lol… This is only because (1) I DON’T like the sound of my voice (2) I’m such a shy person (☝🏾around strangers fela) who’s gonna believe anything I say 🤷🏾♀️ and (3) people are gonna be listening to me – akant, too much attention! I stuck to my guns for a while and just tried to convince her hore I’m too shy for this thing lol but I ended up agreeing because actually the cause here is bigger than me and my insecurities with comfort.
A few days prior to her asking I saw a video ya Jay Z on Facebook talking about how his uncle always told him he can’t do what he loved when in fact he proved him wrong and actually did it 10 times better than expected. That triggered me a lot because it also reminded me of my struggle trying to prove myself as a shy person in PR… because shy people aren’t made to be in the PR industry 👀
So after I put my warrior gear on and agreed to do the interview, mo’ghel sent me questions so I can do a briefing session by myself 😂. I made my notes on how I wanted to answer the questions, and I recorded my answers (prepping helps me before ke etsa anything media related really). At this moment I’m just doing this for the other people like me (there’s comfort knowing hore you are not alone and that you might be making a difference in that person’s life) and for the youngins starting out in their jobs or in school… ha ke tsebe who told you guys hore PR is fun lona 🙄 le shebella TV too much.
So I’m going to go through the questions and basically share my answers as well as my experience in more detail then it was on my #careerspillion interview:
What are the stereotypes or misconceptions about what you do?
1. No one really knows what we do and everyone thinks we do everything. It’s very funny how people assume what a publicist does and what we actually do. Either re batho who hang out with celebrities, magicians who turn hundreds into millions or we make people famous.
2. We are spin doctors. That’s a very old school term I used there but people still have this at the back of their minds unfortunately. We don’t sway perceptions like they did back then. We are storytellers now more than anything.
3. We work in a fun and glamorous profession. It’s rough and tough outche guys. We go through the most in getting work done from conceptualization to actual execution. And it’s a lot of extra hours outside the 8 hours required in a day.
With all the hard work, it’s the most rewarding hee – seeing your strategies and hard work come to life… Plus the joyous feeling when coverage comes in for a client. Priceless.
Just to add 😊 the highlight of my career was working on the Strongbow account and we launched #NatureRemix in Braam ka 2016. I worked on the PR strategy and saw the event come to life (le attendance e ne le yona!) Lol I lived that brand shame, also because their brand positioning was my passion – art, music and making the world a better place… Askisi for the distraction there 😊
4. All publicists are outgoing! WRONG! And I’m proof that this fact is not true. Yes probably more than 80% of publicists are outgoing, talkative and love socialising… Some us thrive and put out our best work being reserved, listening, observing.
If I could have my own office with a view that would be great 😊 be in my own space and not people lol. And also, being reserved ironically makes you skilled in knowing people’s behaviors and how best to or not approach them… Also reading energies is easier. This is something that has worked for me because I tend to make true connections with people. With my media relationships, I create more friendships more than just making coverage transactions – ba re your media network is key in this industry akere but you must be weary of using your network for coverage only… Otherwise this will be your report to client month end 👇🏾
I’ve built my 5 year career using my strengths to the fullest. For example, from varsity I knew I had to make sure that whatever I present to a potential employer, needs to reflect my capabilities as much as possible because talking won’t help me much (and I don’t mean lie to look good ☝🏾). I’ve always been a creative, a great strength of mine, so for my first job, I created a whole magazine portfolio as a CV. Here’s a preview:
This basically had my qualifications. And I sent the cover letter as a press release. This clearly made an impact on me getting the job. It spoke to the industry the company was in (fashion) and showed my capabilities (I had articles and work I did in varsity in there). Throughout the years I’ve continued adding this kind of creativity when I pitch to media and compile strategies.
What do you actually do as a publicist?
In essence, as a publicist I generate and manage a client’s publicity and image (how they want to be seen in the public eye and make sure to keep it consistent) this goes back to the storytelling. You showcase your brands strengths, their purpose and make sure they reach their business goals through things like press releases, media interviews, events, etc.
You also need to wear a lot of different hats because when you are a publicist. You are literally a researcher, strategist, problem-solver, negotiator, industry analyst, writer, 😢 you name it… And with the rise of the digital age, you need to be a social media expert too.
Okay I guess you can call us magicians hee 🤷🏾♀️
What should you study in varsity to become a publicist?
You can study Public Relations or any Communication related qualification. Nna I studied Corporate Communications in varsity which is much broader than PR because it touches on other elements of the Communications industry like Branding, Journalism and Marketing. You need to know what role these other elements play because you deal with the people in those fields on a regular basis.
My advice to those thinking of studying to be publicists is to job shadow while you are still studying so you can see how the industry operates. This will quickly confirm if you truly love PR or if should rather go into another industry.
When applying, (1) make sure your application stands out. So pay attention to detail in your application email (very NB as it will make or break you! If you speak mxit language then forget that call for an interview 🙅🏾♀️). (2) Think creatively on how you approach the company. There are a lot of job posts in the industry and imagine how many CVs they get in a day 🤯 Use tools like canva.com to give your CV life, list 10 companies you’d like to work for and wooh them – like it would be cool to get a CV as a press pack for example, you don’t have to go overboard but make the impression. (3) Don’t go overboard and oversell yourself next thing you can’t deliver (you’ll see flames). See what works for you in terms of skill set and perfect it.
Side side note to the introvertd publicists of the future… The first few months at a new workplace are always gonna be a bit tough… having to prove yourself until you get to the groove of things. Once you get into it, you are going to have the time of your life 😊 trust the progress! Always.
That’s it for now – also I’m super keen to share what I know in PR le lona, if I can’t help, I know someone who can 😊
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk 🌻