This women’s month we chat to two North Coast public relations gurus, who both recently won prestigious awards in the PRISM Awards or, as they’re known, the ‘Oscars of the PR industry’.
If ever you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Janna Strang or Dionne Collett then you would know that they are both highly driven, successful business owners and mothers, who are also friendly and full of charm!
Owner, PRomote Communications
Janna has an unmistakable smile and incredibly bubbly personality and is a one hundred percent self-proclaimed extrovert. She is passionate about what she does and is incredibly proud of her business, PRomote Communication, which she started eight years ago.
Born and raised in Durban, Janna studied English, media and writing at UCT after school. This, she says, is where her 18-year love affair with PR and communications first began.
After six years spent writing copy at various local and international ad agencies around South Africa and overseas, Janna returned to Durban and pursued her interest in public relations. She spent two years working at a top PR agency in Durban before starting PRomote Communication eight years ago.
Janna and her team received an award in the Crisis Management category for their handling of the communications around the 2019 Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic at the recent PRISM Awards.
Excited just to be first-time entrants to the awards, Janna says winning their category was simply the cherry on top. “This award also belongs to the Amashova Race Organisers who were allowed us to share our learnings through the PRISM awards about the handling of the unexpected crises that occurred during last year’s edition of the race. They also demonstrated their faith in us to take the lead on the communication front which involved social media, media across all platforms and direct communications to stakeholders,” says Janna.
Speaking about the PR industry, Janna says, “I love the thrill of matching great content and stories from clients with great media titles to reach the relevant audiences. There’s nothing more satisfying then being part of the process of a great story that is published and truly resonates with the audience engaging with it, which then directly inspires the audience to engage with the brand, product, or service that the story is linked to.”
Although the pandemic has affected their business in some ways, especially regarding clients who are involved in the eventing and hospitality industries, Janna says they have been able to adapt to the new circumstances. “We are lucky enough to only really need computers and phones to do the majority of our work. We really are fortunate not to have suffered a crippling loss of accounts and income like many other colleagues in our industry, simply due to the diversity of our clients. It has been inspiring though to see the level of creativity that has blossomed due to the restrictions and difficult situations people have found themselves in.”
On the personal front, Janna comes from a close-knit family and has two siblings. The apple of her eye and her ‘crowning achievement in life’ is her beautiful son, six-year-old Ethan. “His infectious laugh and beautiful soul have been the light I needed to navigate through even the darkest periods in my life.”
Take Note Reputation Management
When you spend time with Take Note owner Dionne, you know you are in the presence of a highly driven, well-informed, focussed business woman. But beyond that, she is also a dedicated mother, doting wife and lover of all-things-Africa.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Dionne and her family moved to South Africa when she was in her early teens. After studying hotel management and then travelling through Europe, Dionne’s love for Africa pulled her home and into the hospitality industry. She serendipitously took up a job at a game lodge, which is where she met her husband of 19 years, Arthur.
Dionne’s career led her doing the marketing for the a large hotel group in SA, which included 42 hotels, game lodges and resorts. During this chaotic time (there was a huge amount of travel involved), Dionne gave birth to their daughter, Kelsey. When their son Keegan came along they decided it was time to change their focus.
“We started Take Note with the aim of delivering creative, sustainable and workable solutions for reputation management and brand enhancement.”
Dionne says she is incredibly proud of their National Campaign of the Year award at the recent PRISM awards. “Our client, Bata, is the world’s leading shoemaker by volume, serving more than 1 million consumers a day in 5300 stores. Their Youth Board of Directors campaign measures the youth-appeal of its shoes, showing that children are to be seen and heard in terms of what, when and where they make their choices about footwear. The campaign was a team effort on the part of the entire Take Note team.”
About the PR industry as a whole Dionne says, “I love that fact that we work in various industries. It keeps life interesting! Being in reputation management allows us to work with brands, promotions and images and mould ways that let businesses see the result and a return on their investment in a positive manner. I love the fact that we get to see brands and businesses develop and grow with us by their side.
Instead of focusing on the negative, Dionne and her family have chosen to make the best of the time they have been afforded due to lockdown during the pandemic. “It has made us sit back, breathe and appreciate what we have. We’ve had lots of quality family time, growing our own vegetable garden, doing gym under the big fig in our garden and just being grateful for all that is around us. Take Note Reputation Management is adapting and adjusting to what we all now know as the new ‘normal’, but I am not convinced we all know what that is yet! We have always been versatile and able to fit into the various industries we have worked in, so we feel we are always adapting and adjusting, not just because of the pandemic, but because every business needs to in order to keep up with the demands of our ever changing world.”