PR and branding masterclass kicks off industry conversations and new trends

QHAWEKAZI Mdikane, brand marketing executive head at Momentum. PICTURE: TIMOTHY BERNARD Independent Newspapers

QHAWEKAZI Mdikane, brand marketing executive head at Momentum. PICTURE: TIMOTHY BERNARD Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 3, 2024


A group of public relations (PR), marketing and branding practitioners turned up in their numbers to hear from the wisdom of seasoned communications scholars and professionals including, Dr Thebe Ikalafeng, Bonnke Shipalana, Sylvester Chauke, Qhawekazi Mdikane and Thabani Khumalo speak on various topics affecting and impacting the PR and branding space.

The event, held at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium on Wednesday titled “BrandPR Masterclass”, was an interactive session which tackled brand and PR-related issues, including strategies for effective communications and branding strategies, and the impact of social media and other forms of new media on the profession.

MAPASEKA Mogotsi, news editor at The Star.

Speaking during his opening address and giving an overview of the PR and communications landscape, Shipalana, founder of the Allure Group, stressed about the importance of creating strong brands that sustain businesses in times of challenges.

“In over 23 years that I have been in the industry, I have learnt one thing about life and that is preparation. Preparation is the seed to everything. It is important that you spend more time sharpening your axe than you spend time working. This is an opportunity for us to sharpen our minds. In marketing, I have realised that there are strategies and there are tactics. Strategies never change but tactics change with time and over the years tactics have changed with the changes in communications tools,” he said.

For Ikalafeng, the importance of owning one’s very own narrative and story is the key to ensuring that African creatives and brands take charge of their lives.

DR Thebe Ikalafeng, founder at Brand Africa.

“We die for their (European and American) validation but they come here and ridicule us (through their adverts, films and stories) while stealing our brands, our stories, culture while we are busy on Twitter (X). Instead of telling a better story about us, they control our narrative. However, for us to win the fight, we must be in the business of story telling so we are not a conquered people where the conqueror writes our story. Take control of your story,” he said.

Speaking on the importance of doing things outside the bland, Chauke called on creatives to step up their game and put an end to mediocrity that has placed the creative sector including marketing, PR, advertising and branding in the state of a “flux”.

SYLVESTER Chauke, chief architect at DNA Brand Architects.

“The biggest problem is that mediocrity has seeped into our organisations and spaces and this is an issue that reflects the state of our country. The work we do as creatives is impactful and mediocrity does not belong here and we must do all we can to stop it and challenge it.

“I understand that, we are in a state of flux. That state of flux has been happening for decades and it has become harder to manage the highs and lows of our industry. However, the world has changed and we need to change with it,” said Chauke.

For Mdikane, in the world of social media and new media, the need to communicate in a way that is responsible and responsive to community norms is important, especially in the era of social media and cancel culture.

“In building relationships in a world of cancel culture and solid media relations, you need to know who to call especially if a brand is in crisis. If you are going to use influencers ensure that they are credible influencers and have been vetted by an agency. Also, never underestimate power of networking. You need to have a solid media contacts and these are important if you want to turn a negative into a positive,” she said.

Other speakers at the event were Sibu Mabena, Jeremy Maggs, Papama Mtwisha, Tshepo Mohlala and Willy Seyama.

The Star

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