Accredited in Public Relations (APR) news
Zina Girald APR
“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?” – George Bernard Shaw
Zina Girald is a creative person. She is an artist in many different ways, including music - as a singer / songwriter / guitarist, dance – as a professional dancer in the past, and currently a dance teacher and choreographer. She is a graphic and web designer running a successful marketing business that includes aspects of her creative background when sourcing entertainment options for clients’ events, social media management. Because of her creative propensities, she brings a creative angle to the work she does in the public relations field.
Zina began her career as a young public relations practitioner working at Primedia Interactive – a subsidiary of the Primedia Group in the 90s – as its marketing manager. The position was very hands-on and she acquired an in-depth knowledge of graphics and layout which assisted her in putting together effective and professional looking presentations and documents. She also conceptualised and developed print and electronic campaigns to create awareness of and to grow the company. She managed numerous events and was involved in planning road shows and exhibition exposure for Easy Info, the company’s most popular product at the time.
After leaving Primedia Interactive, she was employed at Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) as a public relations officer for four years, changing the way in which consulting engineers communicated. The monthly bulletin evolved from being a couple of typed pages stapled together to a professionally bound booklet with simple graphics and a spot colour. Needless to say the quarterly magazine and website also changed dramatically during her time of employment at CESA.
“Because of my creative nature, I needed to choose a career that would allow me to express my thoughts and ideas. Public relations, with its numerous mediums and fast paced, dynamic nature was the perfect choice. I urge public relations practitioners everywhere not to lose sight of creativity in your communication approach. Once you are working in a professional environment, you tend to steer clear of new and untested methods and ideas, rather staying with what you know and trust. This may not always be for the best and exploring different options may turn your results from acceptable to outstanding. When facing challenges, you should stay flexible and adapt to whatever comes your way. The more creative you are, the more adaptable you become. You need to be a versatile communicator. Sometimes, as in the case pointed out with CESA earlier, you need to change your thinking style and the way you deliver an idea completely to get the message across effectively.”
In 2000, Zina moved on and worked her way up to communication officer and later, communication manager, for the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE). She was project leader and planner for SAICE’s main communication events which included:
- The SAICE Annual Photo Competition
- The SAICE Annual Bridge Building Competition for learners – including a section for previously disadvantaged schools
- The SAICE Annual Awards for Civil Engineering Technical Excellence (the ‘Oscars’ of the Civil Engineering Industry)
Duties included strategic planning of SAICE communication that tied in with the overall business plan for the Institution, project leading, social media management, writing articles for the SAICE and other magazines and general communication for each division within SAICE (Communication, Continuing Professional Development Workshops and Courses, The SAICE Bookshop, Finances and Administration). Communication involved internal and external engagement with members, stakeholders, shareholders, service providers, sponsors and educational institutions among others.
“I’ve learned that creativity in strategic communication is of the utmost importance. Brainstorming, developing messages and problem solving require a lot of creative thought. At times, you will need extreme creative effort to make an existing project that has been running for years, fresh and exciting again. Working with a team can also help as you bounce ideas off each other and trigger bigger and better ones. It’s so motivating to see these ideas become plans and finally reality with amazing results.”
“Be creative in the way you present a message to different target groups. As communicators we have to constantly change our styles and approaches to best suit the audience’s needs. When writing for a blog or social media, you have to adapt to the requirements of the medium that you are using but you can still be creative within those requirements. You want to be noticed by those you are talking to. ”
Because of her passion for graphics, Zina retained the task of producing SAICE’s graphic work (documents, presentations, adverts and similar). With her knowledge of html and Java scripting, she also designed and maintained the SAICE website as part of her busy working day.
“Constantly designing graphics keeps me on my toes. It assists me to develop the message as a whole, written and visual, and to guide the recipients accurately to the perception and emotion that you want to convey to them. For me this is a more holistic approach and I feel lucky that I can ‘do it all’. There are times when either the writer or the designer does not grasp your concept completely and you have to settle with what you are given.”
At the end of 2012, Zina left SAICE and began to work in earnest with Zootz Projects, a freelancing marketing business she began earlier in the decade. She performs with a two piece band, ZAP!, playing guitar and singing, she is recording, writing songs and signing with her original band, Luna Nyx and is teaching fitness and dance at her studio in Kensington and for Virgin Active.