PR movers and SHAKERS
Bona|April 2020
Public Relations (PR) is no longer just about writing press releases and newsletters. But, promoting a positive image with the public and media, and making public appearances at events and other engagements on behalf of brands and even personalities. Five readers share their experiences of working in this exciting and fast-paced industry.
Amanda Mtuli & Fundiswa Nkwanyana

Sheila Afari (33) is the managing director of Sheila Afari Public Relations, based in Johannesburg.

CARVING MY CAREER

In 2008 while I was studying towards a psychology degree at the University of Cape Town, I stepped on a flyer advertising entrepreneurship week. I was intrigued and attended the workshops to learn more. That’s where I saw an opportunity to provide PR services to fashion designers. Even though I had no experience, I registered a company called Lavish Industries. I then compiled proposals, which helped me get a few clients. A year later, my clientele increased. I decided to do a PR course to make sure I was on the right track. I’ve never looked back since.

THE JOURNEY

From 2008 to 2011, I was the managing director for my company Lavish Industries. I also became the marketing manager for Mi-Fone. In 2012, I started Sheila Afari Public Relations where I’m currently the managing director. I’m also the managing editor of an online culture publication called Moziak Magazine. My ability to spot an opportunity and self-belief, have helped me carve a successful career.

EMBRACING THE CHANGES

The PR landscape hasn’t changed a lot since I started; however, there’s been a large shift towards the use of online and social media platforms. My job has its challenges because I work with small businesses and entertainers. Some of them have never worked with a PR company before and often have unrealistic expectations. To avoid any discrepancies, I make sure that we sign contracts that clearly stipulate our agreement.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

My company is growing and I’m gaining and retaining clients because my business is about offering exceptional service. My advice for people who want to be part of this industry is to carve your own path, keep up with trends and foster relationships with media.

Shorn Khumalo (28) lives in Johannesburg and is the co-founder and head of PR at The Client Media.

CARVING MY CAREER

After matric, I took a gap year to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One day I attended a career exhibition where I got a detailed explanation about PR. In 2012, I enrolled to study Public Relations management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. After getting my qualification, I volunteered for every opportunity that came my way in order to get experience.

THE JOURNEY

I kicked off my career at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as a student media liaison. I worked through all media conferences, artist interviews and managed media at the different stages during the festivals. On weekends, I did in-store and outdoor activations for different brands. I did this while completing my national diploma and B-Tech in PR Management. This has played a major role in how I’ve developed my career. I’ve since established my own company, which I co-own with my friend, Luthando Tshaya.

EMBRACING THE CHANGES

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