By David Jenkin
Several speakers – some young up-and-comers and some experienced old hands – gathered to dish out inspiring advice to the fresh faces of the PR industry at JumpStart’s #powerofyouth roundtable discussion on Thursday, 9 June, at the HTA School of Culinary Art in Johannesburg.
Jumpstart is a chapter of PRISA created to offer the youth of the PR industry a voice, a space to share their ideas and to grow. It was an added bonus to do so over a gourmet breakfast provided by the HTA School of Culinary Art, which also provided the venue, served up by Afroflame Events. Chairperson and convenor of JumpStart, Megan Cowley, opened proceedings and kept the conversation flowing.
The first speaker of the morning was Robyn de Villiers, chairman and CEO: Africa of Burson-Marsteller Africa, who discussed the results of a recent survey on the youth of Africa. She identified a number of trends that reflect the aspirations and general mind-set of youths across the continent. These included a desire to celebrate Africa’s achievements and focus on the positives, to achieve success without leaving others behind (demonstrating a strong sense of social responsibility), to tap into the entrepreneurial ecosystem and learn from those with more experience, to be engaged directly, to participate, and for their voices to be heard. Much like young people in other parts of the world, they also interrogate information differently from previous generations and demand authenticity and accountability.
Next up was Barrie Bramley, creative and disruptive conference speaker, who discussed becoming a CEO. He boldly declared that the nineties were to blame for current problems in the workplace as business models put into place then have created a different world where staff are no longer nurtured and mentored as they once were. Now, he said, people in the workplace are more or less on their own and each individual must become a CEO of their own careers. “Nobody is going to look after you, you have to make it happen,” he said.
Founder of PR Expert, Janine Lloyd, spoke about putting a campaign together on a low budget, referring to their highly successful campaign (which won a PRISM award this year) to promote the film Hear Me Move. PR Expert was able to create a groundswell using the young cast of dancers as ambassadors to create a buzz in the digital space. She said that if one understands millennials, and if they can be made to feel good about the work they’re doing, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
Managing director of FleishmanHillard, Kevin Welman, spoke next about the journey from intern to managing director, a personal story full of tips on getting ahead. These included arriving at work on time, having a game plan and not just chasing a slightly bigger paycheque, biting off more than one can chew, taking on the difficult tasks and “saying yes to stuff”. He emphasised the importance of adopting the right attitude and demonstrating dependability and reliability. He also said that even though young workers have a lot of fresh insight to offer, they must remember to respect experience.
Allegro Dinkwanyane, herself a millennial but also the founder and CEO of Orgella Media, spoke next about her journey from blogger to influencer to realising her dream of running her own media company, as well as the evolution of the industry at large and the importance of proper social media management.
Thando Dhaza, junior account executive at Engage Joe Public, was the concluding speaker. She drove debate about the hashtag and how it has changed the way we create and absorb messages, and the power it has to connect people from all over the world by plugging into a specific topic or theme. Wrapping up the event with general comments, Dhaza remarked that although some say PR is dying, it is in fact just moving forward.
Despite the winter chill, the vibe was upbeat and attendees participated in discussions with enthusiasm, departing with a dose of fresh motivation and some valuable new connections.