It’s a Sher thing sat down with Prelene Singh from Mantra Publicity, to find out more about the Public Relations and brand awareness industry. Public Relations is the practice of creating and sharing information about an organisation, designed to influence perceptions. PR is usually internal corporate communications and publicity is usually controlled by external parties, such as journalists and newsrooms. If this is a field that you are interested in, then find out how you can become a Founder and Managing Director Like Prelene.
Public relations is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization to the public in order to influence their perception. Public relations and publicity differ in that PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity is not controlled and contributed by external parties.
What type of work do you do?
- We are in the brand awareness space. This encompasses all elements from below the line (BTL) through the line (TTL) and above the line marketing (ATL) such as Public Relations, social media management, digital marketing, events, website development and maintenance and content creation, advertising placements, design and editing.
How did you get into this line of work?
- My initial plan was to become a print journalist. I graduated with my honours at Wits in journalism. Soon after working at 702 I realised that brand building, brand shaping and storytelling was in my blood. And the rest is history.
Is your industry female or male dominated and how did you stand out?
- Initially, I think PR was very female-dominated, however over the years, this has changed and I think now has balanced itself out. We stand out because our business model is made for 2023 and the future. We let go of all the outdated PR practices and have pivoted our business to suit the current professional market. Combining holistic operation through a 360 approach and constantly being on trend and on point is our Mantra.
How long have you been at this company for and what has your career progression look like here?
- I founded Mantra Publicity in the midst of Covid-19. The idea came to me in August 2020 and by October 2022 Mantra was a full member of the business world. We started off with two amazing clients and have only grown from there in the past two years. In previous years, I served my time in corporate (as most businesses did), working my way up until I hit the glass ceiling.
What recommendations do you have for other young women looking to enter your industry?
- Hard work is far too underrated in this generation. Believe me, it does pays off. Remember, your career is your creative journey, it’s what you make of it. PR is a calling, it’s a passion and it should come naturally. Spend as much time as you can learning on the job, soak everything up like a sponge, give it your all, build relationships and make a place for yourself. I would definitely have told my younger self to have more confidence and take your place at the table that you know you deserve because you worked hard to earn it. Work your way up and take your time.
What is the one thing you absolutely love about your organisation?
- The creative freedom to work with the clients and brands we want to, explore all avenues of brand awareness, and the creative process. We make the rules and with that are able to provide bespoke and results driven services to our clients without the red tape and hassle.
Why should other women join your industry?
- Because, why not? We can be whoever we want to these days, nothing is impossible and PR is for everyone.
Are you currently hiring and where can other women go to, to apply for roles within your organisation?
- We are always looking for new talent, we also work quite extensively with freelancers. Get in touch with us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form on our website mantrapublicity.co.za
What motivates you?
- Seeing potential and achieving results
What do you do differently to give yourself the competitive edge?
- Listen to understand. Think outside the box always and push the boundaries. We are never the same thing twice.
Are you a mother and if so, how do you balance being a full-time mother and leader and how do you believe corporate SA can empower mothers to achieve more balance?
- Not yet, but after I get married this September, it’s on the cards. I’ll get back to you on that one.
How do you manage criticism?
- Embrace it whole heartedly. Whether constructive or not, there is always something to learn from it. It’s what you choose to take out of it to improve yourself.
How do you motivate and inspire your people?
- By example. We cannot mentor, motivate or lead with being the example first. Inspiring people, I think when you’re passionate and whole heatedly invested in what you do, inspiring people happens naturally. I remember watching people who inspired me back then do what they do best. I was in awe every time.
What has been your biggest failure in your career and what did you learn from it?
- I don’t believe you ever really fail. I believe there are lessons. Some hard and some easy. The best lessons are the hard ones unfortunately. I won’t forget in my honours year, the editor of the Wits Vuvuzela newspaper read my article the one night while we were all working late at the newsroom, he stormed to my desk and in a very irritated tone said “Prelene, what is this?’, confused I replied “It’s my article for the paper this week.” He walked closer and in a lower tone said: “This is not an article” and proceeded to throw my pages in my face and walked off. I ran out of the newsroom crying and straight to the bathroom to gather myself. 10 minutes later, I emerged and realised that I hadn’t given that my best shot and needed to try harder. This experience taught me that (1) never do things half-hearted, (2) when you don’t give your best people will notice and (3) always push yourself to do better than your last.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently on your journey to success?
- Not really, I believe everything happens for a reason and I am where I am today because of the journey I have had, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What did you study and does it relate to your field of work?
- BA Major in Media Studies and English
- BA Honours in Journalism Theory and Practice
- Yes, it helps immensely in the field of PR
Do you believe in power dressing?
- 100% I believe you are what you portray yourself to be. A Mercedes Benz is a Mercedes Benz because it is what it portrays. It wants you to believe something about it and it delivers on that. Not so?
What advice would you give to young people entering your industry?
- Don’t sleep LOL
- Take all the opportunities presented to you
- Learn as much as you can
- Don’t be afraid to speak up and offer your thoughts
What is the most courageous action you’ve ever taken in your career?
- To leave a 9 to 5 well-paying job to start something from scratch with no backup plan
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given regarding your career?
- Don’t be lazy
How did you master your skillset?
- Practice makes perfect
What is your leadership style and who taught you how to lead?
- Lead by example. And my mom is the one who taught me this.
What are your three biggest assets that you bring into your role?
Has load shedding affected your industry and if so, how so?
- Of course! Load shedding has numerous negative effects on individuals and businesses alike. Reduced work time, pressurised work environments, increased deadlines and let’s be honest, it forces people to spend more on backup power, or travelling to the office every day.
The budget speech took place on 22 February. Do any of those announcements impact your industry and if so, how?
- I think everything that happens within the economy of the country affects the socio-economic and business environments. Everything has a ripple effect.
We see that millennials and Gen Z’s are job hopping every 2-3 years citing mental health and toxic working environments. What advice do you have for someone who is unhappy in their organisation or struggling with their mental health due to work related pressures?
- Always voice your struggles. Every organisation should have counselling options for all employees. If not, source it outside of the organisation and make sure you’re putting your mental health before your job. Jobs can come and go but your health always comes first.
How important do you believe upskilling is and what type of upskilling do you promote?
- Very important. Your company is only as strong as its weakest employee. Inclusive, extensive and actionable upskilling is so important. At Mantra we offer a combination of hands-on opportunities and online learning as well as in-person mentorship and training.
Anything else you would like to add?
- PR and brand awareness is so so important, especially in a time like now where the markets across the board are so saturated, and people are sick of adverts. Making your brand stand out from the rest is vital to staying relevant, and growing your business. I sometimes find that people aren’t too sure about PR and what is it exactly, but it’s the only thing you can rely on to grow businesses and it will not be replaced through digital interruption.
Feel free to follow Mantra Publicity’s journey further, over here:
Corporate website: https://www.mantrapublicity.co.za