Joanne Hayes, PR consultant to Red Carnation Hotels, South Africa.
Joanne Hayes, PR consultant to Red Carnation Hotels, South Africa.
Joanne Hayes, PR consultant to Red Carnation Hotels, South Africa.
Joanne Hayes, PR consultant to Red Carnation Hotels, South Africa.

Joanne and I met at an Oyster Box event three years ago. I remember her warm smile and her infectious personality. Fast forward the clock and Joanne is the same person she was back then, only this time she is celebrating 21 years in the PR industry.

A one woman team, Joanne founded Tumbleweed Communications in 1996,  Clinton Moodley spoke to her.

She started her company with a loan of R10 000.

“I didn't really have the money to start my business, but a friend of mine was generous enough to lend me R10 000. He said that he didn’t want the money back, but wanted me to make a success of my business and here I am 21 years later."

Party time:

Hayes will celebrate her 21st anniversary in the industry by hosting a party with close friends, clients and those who have played a role in making Tumbleweed what it has become. She said: “I am looking forward to this milestone. I have worked hard and made many sacrifices to make my business a success. I really want to celebrate that.  Let’s just say I am going to mark this event in a historical Durban setting.”

One woman team:

Despite having some of the biggest clients in South Africa, she works mostly on her own, bringing in specialists as the work/job requires. “I love working with different people all the time as it keeps things interesting. However, it has also ensured that I always have a group of fantastic people around me all the time – my “Dream Team” as I like to call them.”

Hotel background:

Working with hotels is natural for her. She first started working with Oyster Box almost nine years ago. At the beginning of this year she got the job of promoting two other Red Carnation properties in South Africa, The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and Bushman’s Kloof in the Western Cape.

With her uncle a hotelier, Hayes was exposed to the hotel and hospitality industry from a young age. Her brother is an Executive Chef and she loves cooking.

“It has been great working with the Red Carnation hotel group and I am incredibly honoured to have the opportunity to represent the other brands,” she said.

There are challenges:

Hayes at 56 admits she battles with the speed of technology sometimes. "Dealing with 100’s of emails a week can be overwhelming no matter how organised you are,” she says. "Because it’s so immediate, people expect a response immediately as well.  It’s definitely my greatest challenge.”

Working on big events:

She is grateful to have worked on some of the biggest events held in Durban, including COP 17, the opening of Oyster Box and working with some of Durban’s iconic brands like Ushaka Marine World and Suncoast.

No regrets:

When I asked Hayes what she would like to still do, she said that she would be happy to continue doing what she’s doing, because of her passion for public relations, but still has some plans to go back to her first love of teaching. Watch this space.

“I try to live my life to the full every day, so if it were all to end tomorrow, I will be satisfied."

Offering advice:

Hayes says that any aspiring PR person should be armed with three things: preparedness to work hard, good business skills and integrity.

“Never be scared of hard work, it contributes to your success in the long-run. I had to develop my business skills because the financial health of your business begins and ends with you.  There's no point in working hard and not taking care of boring things like cash flow and budgets.  I have a strong value system and integrity. As much as one wants to make money, you have to have a clear conscience when they go to bed at night,” she said.  


Her favourite country besides South Africa? France.

Where next? Cuba. Its definitely happening this year.

Packing tips: Pack with a list, it prevents you packing unnecessary items.

Places to visit in Durban: The Chairman, The Oyster Box, of course, and the Beachfront precinct.

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