All posts by Tanya Buckley

Looking into the PR crystal ball

This year promises to be exciting for the PR industry. We’ve seen some shifts happening over the last couple of years, and in 2016 these are expected to intensify.

The world-wide economy has forced agencies to become more creative with decreasing budgets. Clients expect us, as industry experts, to not only guide and consult, but also ensure that we provide a holistic approach to cut through the clutter and reach their consumers in engaging ways.

Here are a few trends we expect to see emerge or intensify in the industry this year:

The PR hybrid

In 2016 we will see PR and social media become synonymous with each other. We’ve seen the growing need over the last few years for these two spheres to work seamlessly together in order to achieve brand objectives. The emergence of ‘hybrid consultants’ will become more commonplace. These are PR consultants who are also skilled when it comes to social media and are able to advise on both disciplines.

Bloggers and influencers

The industry has moved away from only having editors from print publications in our rolodexes – don’t get me wrong, we can’t do our jobs without them – but added into the mix is a whole new breed of self-appointed critics and ‘journalists’ on our contact lists.

The prevalence of social media means that these ‘celebs’ are accessible to their fans and followers. Clients will realise more and more the value of investing in influencers who deliver high return on investment (ROI), and with ad-blockers (apps that block advertisements on websites) becoming the norm with consumers, native advertising and advertorials are some of the most effective ways for clients to get their message across.

It’s undeniable that in this age when people spend more time online than watching television, advertising in the traditional sense doesn’t hold the punch it used to, although it definitely still plays an important role. Consumers are now looking to their favourite websites, blogs and influencers with regard to making purchasing decisions, regarding these influencers as their peers and seeing them as credible. Thus, it is worth tapping into their audiences.

Short and sweet

One of the biggest take-outs of social media is that it’s a convenient manner for subscribers to read about their interests, catch up with their favourite celebrities or engage with brands in short bursts. Some may think that this is due to the average person becoming a bit lazier, but the reality is that the average person’s lifestyle is incredibly busy, leaving them with little time to read a full-page article or track down information to find out what’s happening in the world. They prefer to get the bullet points and carry on with their day.

This will lead to the following trend becoming bigger this year: short, interactive videos and thought-provoking images accompanying press releases aimed at grabbing the attention of the editor, influencer or blogger with whom public relations practitioners engage.

PR strategies will include social media platforms other than Twitter and Facebook. The recommendations will depend on what would work best for a client’s brand, and will vary from Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and Shazam to Periscope. The uptake on new social media platforms in South Africa is slightly slower than in the rest of the world, but that gives us time to study what works and what doesn’t in different markets before we plunge in headfirst.

The second screen

According to a study done by Effective Measure, 81.5% of the population was accessing the internet through their smartphones in 2014, and only 18.5% doing the same by way of traditional methods, like desktops etc. This means that smartphones are no longer the so-called ‘second screen’, and haven’t been for a while, but are the primary screen to most consumers. We need to adjust our PR strategies accordingly.

Don’t underestimate the podcast

We predict that this year will be the year of the podcast. People lead unbelievably busy lives, as mentioned earlier, and they want to access information in the most convenient way possible. Listening to audio books has been popular for years, and now we have the podcast. It’s basically a spoken blog and there are thousands of them on every conceivable topic. It’s the ultimate in convenience, as they can be listened to in the car, at the gym, sitting at your desk at work and at home. It gives the consumer the freedom to multitask while listening.

In conclusion, PR is and will always be exciting, as it’s constantly evolving and adapting to the environment we find ourselves in. It is our job as consultants to keep our fingers on the pulse of pop culture and the new ways people are communicating, so we can provide our clients with expert advice and exceed their expectations. PR will continue to get more interesting over the next couple of years with virtual reality (VR) coming into the mix in the not too distant future, so remaining clued-up and prepared for action is a PR consultant’s way of life!

By Anne Dolinschek, Senior Account Manager

South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy opens Zimbabwe office.

Magna Carta, South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy is to bolster its already existing Africa network with the opening of an office in Harare- bringing to the country a consultancy that will offer local and multi-national companies in Zimbabwe access to a broad range of reputation management services.

The opening of the Harare offices will make Magna Carta one of the best represented firms of its kind on the African continent-  a reputation management consultancy that has over the last nine years created a 18-country partner network across the continent. Included in this network are consultancies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique.

“The opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe with a full service office marks the fulfilment of a process that began months ago,” says Vincent Magwenya, CEO of Magna Carta.

In line with our philosophy of ensuring that we have strong local representation in each of the countries we serve we have obtained the services of Sapi Bachi as Managing Director, Magna Carta Zimbabwe.

“Initially, she will have the assistance of two staff, also Zimbabweans. The company will also enjoy the full support and strategic guidance offered by Magna Carta in SA. It is our intention that as the business grows, the necessary skills to operate across the entire spectrum of Magna Carta’s offering will be transferred to Harare.

“Our belief in the future of Africa extends to our confidence to the future of Zimbabwe and we see our expansion into the country as a natural step in further enhancing our representation in Southern Africa. The opening of a Zimbabwean operation will ensure that our existing multi-national client base with operations in Zimbabwe will now be able to utilise our services locally. Ms Sapi Bachi, Managing Director of Magna Carta Zimbabwe who has 15 years of experience in the Zimbabwean PR industry, said that local and international companies operating in all sectors across Zimbabwe would now have access to a full range of reputation management services, which will include advice on, digital communication, Investor Relations, Crisis Management, through to advising on the development of corporate positioning strategies and media relations.

“We are excited about the new Magna Carta presence in Harare. Magna Carta was born in South Africa in 1994, the same year that marked the birth of democracy. Since then it has evolved with the industry and has developed a range of expertise that transcend traditional and social media, evolving and growing with the rapidly changing information and media landscape.

“Most significantly for future clients, it is a company that reflects its African heritage through the understanding and experience gained from operating effectively across the multiple markets on the continent.  As a seasoned African consultancy that thinks globally, as attested to by the company being acknowledged as the Paul Holmes African Consultancy of the year 2013.

“As the exclusive African affiliate of Ketchum, a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents, and its long-standing relationship with TBWA\ South Africa and the greater TBWA\ global network, part of the Omnicom Group Inc., Magna Carta provides access to global best practice to its clients.

“Magna Carta therefore has a broad base of intellectual capital and skills that can be shared with us. We have no doubt that the opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe will result in an agency that will leapfrog across existing practices in our country and bring a new dimension of professionalism and effectiveness to the communications industry,” concluded Bachi.

Magna Carta plants roots in Harare, Zimbabwe

Today marks an important and exciting milestone for the Magna Carta team: our Harare office celebrates its opening, marking the 18th country to form part of our award-winning pan-African consultancy network.

Over the past eight years, we have built a strong network of reputation management consultancies in some of the continent’s most promising countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Angola and Mozambique. All currently enjoy knowledge sharing and industry best practice through our exclusive African affiliation with Ketchum, a leading global communications firm, as well as our long-standing relationship with TBWA\ South Africa and the greater TBWA\ global network.

Our belief in the future of Africa extends to our confidence in the future of Zimbabwe, and we see this expansion as a natural step in further enhancing our representation throughout Southern Africa. The opening of this operation will also ensure that our existing multi-national client base with operations in Zimbabwe will now be able to use our services locally, which will include traditional PR, online reputation management and crisis management, according to Sapi Bachi, Managing Director at our Zimbabwe office.

I am confident that this latest venture will provide our firm with a broader network and more client relations opportunities, which will keep us ahead in the ever-changing communication industry.

Magna Carta South Africa CE @MagwenyaVincent, Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic Development: Hon. P.A. Chinamasa and Magna Carta Zimbabwe MD @BachiSapi prior to the official launch of Magna Carta Zimbabwe.
Magna Carta South Africa CE @MagwenyaVincent, Zimbabwe Minister of Finance and Economic Development: Hon. P.A. Chinamasa and Magna Carta Zimbabwe MD @BachiSapi prior to the official launch of Magna Carta Zimbabwe.

For Further updates on the launch, please follow us on Twitter: @MagnaCarta_Zim and @MagnaCarta_RM

Vincent Magwenya,

CEO – Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants

The power of Disruption for African communication

The recent TBWA\Africa Conference held in Sun City focused on harnessing the power of Disruption for African communication.

Disruption is the lifeblood of TBWA\, and this year saw over 80 people from 15 countries and 20 agencies throughout Africa gather for an annual three-day TBWA\ African Conference to immerse themselves in Disruption® philosophy and processes.

There has never been a greater need for creative and disruptive ideas in reputation management. The spread of risk is so much greater now and, as a result, companies have to be better prepared and quicker to respond than they were three or five years ago. Exposing the Magna Carta to new Disruption tools is critical, as it empowers our staff with the skills needed to ensure our clients break through the clutter.

Africa, by its very nature, is disruptive. We see this in many forms throughout the continent, from an array of Nollywood movies being distributed via mobile, the embrace of online retailing in many African markets and the adaptation of the Uber model in Kenya where payment is made in M-pesa and cash.

The scope for continued Disruption creates exciting opportunities as African youth happily flip conventions and experiment with new solutions.

The challenge is not selling Disruption into Africa. The challenge is continuing to drive Disruption as a uniquely TBWA\tool that sets us apart and acts as our differentiator. We can achieve so much more by using our shared Disruption thinking while optimising new tools, technologies and techniques.

The conference showcased opportunities for Magna Carta and other agencies to strengthen the unified network and galvanise our Disruption DNA, which is exciting for the agency and our clients.

Africa ConferenceTweetPic

Ima Peter, Account Director

Moving goal posts of PR measurement

The value of a brand is built on what customers think of a company and how they convey that message to others via word of mouth.

This basic public interaction is usually shaped and directed by various reputation management tools, which with no doubt will eventually translate into profitable foot traffic.

Transcribing this benefit, however, into a tangible language that corporate bean counters understand was only a recent development and is still making its mark at various increments among global practitioners and corporations alike.

Even though the developing the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles, which are voluntary guidelines that were established to measure the efficacy of PR campaigns, were already agreed upon by agencies from 33 countries in Spain back in 2010, measuring the return on investment of PR is still inconsistently applied, which continues to murky the water for marketing managers and their budget proposals.

Some agencies still advocate the archaic Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) measurement, which is able to put a rand value on media coverage and, by extension, allow a direct comparison with advertising.

Others still propose statistical correlations that are tailored to each client’s needs or measure tactics like reach and number of placements, rather than outcomes (like increase in sales or website conversions).

David Gallagher CEO of Ketchum EMEA told Magna Carta employees on his recent visit, that even though public relations has evolved in line with consumer’s growing need for more informative and valuable content, agencies in general need to have more serious conversations with their clients on what such an evolution means for their specific PR strategies. Adopting a more comprehensive and effective way of measuring the value of our communication efforts will tilt their strategies in the right direction.

Gallagher emphasised the fact that the industry needs to work even harder to break through the resistance and start practicing what they preach to be more consistent in our approach.

Ruan Jooste,

Media Director at Magna Carta

Newsjacking in the midst of tragedy

In today’s ever more cluttered advertising environment, brands are constantly looking for ways to achieve cut through for their messages.

One of the most effective tactics adopted by brands  to achieve this goal of late, has been the practice of newsjacking, with Nandos being South Africa’s most consistantly celebrated protagonist of this very delicate practice.

For the uninitiated newsjacking is essentially the art of injecting your brand  message into a breaking news story with the objective of generating media coverage and social media engagement, or more succinctly put, “The process of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand.”

When done right, the pay off can be lots of eyeballs and positive sentiment for your brand, however, as with most things, there is an equal and opposite downside for brands that get it wrong.

This approach is even more fraught with risk in the midst of an unfolding tragedy and the risk to any brand’s reputation can be very serious.

Take for example this rather tasteless and tone deaf tweet from Urban Outfitters during Huricane Sandy in 2012. In the midst of the destruction caused by the storm, they not only trivialised a very serious and tragic event, but also attempted to benefit financially of people’s plight. This was a clear example of how not to do it.

urban Outfit


Or when Kenneth Cole trivialised the suffering of many people in Egypt during the revolution, with this tactless post on Twitter, that one can only assume was an ill advised attempt at humour.



Both these brands paid the price, with both experiencing a significant amount of backlash from on social media and negative news stories being written about their efforts by some media outlets, forcing them to back track and issue apolgies for their respective faux pas.

In Johannesburg we recently witnnessed a tragic accident when the temporary bridge near the Grayston Drive Bridge over the M1 collapsed, resulting in two deaths and 23 people being injured.

As a result of the accident, the M1,  a major highway in Johannesburg, used by tens of thousands of motorists every day was closed, causing major traffic jams in and around the Sandton CBD as motorists were forced to find alternative routes to their desitinations.

The accident also resulted in a huge amount of media coverage, both traditional  and on online media, with the news trending on Twitter for some time.

Now ordinarily, this would be fairly trecherous ground for any company to try and leverage for its brand, however one brand, in conjuction with the City of Johannesburg did exactly that.

Using its unique offering and online footprint to offer a truly valuable service, Uber took to Twitter and it’s mobile app to offer free rides for people in and around Sandton to and from Gautrain stations in an effort to relieve some of the traffic congestion caused by the bridge collapse.

The tweet, promoting the initiative received 432 Retweets and 151 favourites and a significant amount of goodwill.


What Uber demonstrated through their actions, was that with the correct message that offers a truly useful service or solution that is not just opportunistic, brands can garner a great deal of positive sentiment.

We’ve summarised a few lessons to be taken from these examples:

The first being that brands who rush headlong into a trending news story without understanding the context, nuances and tone of the story and without adding anything of benefit to the intended audience, can find their actions causing serious damage to their brand’s integrity and reputation.

On the other hand, in similar circumstances, when brands take the time to understand the story and what the major issues are with the addition of making the decision to get involved in the story based on whether their brand is able to add something truly beneficial in an authentic manner, can be a great way for your brand to achieve that desired break through and generate significant positive impact .

Sifiso Mazibuko, Social Media and Content Marketing Director


Social Media in the Mobile Era

I recently presented the South African Social Media Landscape 2015 Report at the ITWeb Social Business Summit and the research demonstrated some pretty interesting trends.

As a result of the rise of technology and Internet access, South Africa’s trends in incorporating social media in corporate environments, are not far behind those of the United States and the rest of the developed world.

Most notably, however, are the advances that South Africa continues to make when it comes to mobile technology, with local advances often eclipsing those witnessed in the US.

Additionally, the report also highlights how the increased adoption of largely mobile visual platforms such as Instagram, which experienced over 100% growth in the 12 months, have been fueled by cheaper data costs, free Wi-Fi and cheaper smartphones.

According to the report, Facebook has also continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than its photo sharing subsidiary, growing by 10% year on year with 13 million South Africans now on the platform and 77% of them logging on using their mobile devices, continuing the strong mobile theme.

Smartphones are being used by 7.9 million South African Facebook users with 1.9 million using basic feature phones to log onto the service.

The past four years has also seen a notable increase in video content and most branded content on platforms like Twitter also being supplemented by images.

They key thing for brands, is for them to recognise the vital role that visual media has always play, even before the Internet. The difference now, is that social media is largely the domain of consumers, and TV-style advertising is nearing obsoletion.

The challenge for brands will be to leverage the power of social media influencers and co-create content in order to grow their communities.

When it comes to the adoption of Snapchat in South Africa, the young generation is quickly adopting these new platforms, and local interest has increased dramatically in the last two years, even though exact numbers have not yet been confirmed. Snapchat fills the need of ephemeral messaging, as people have realized that not all content needs to last forever.”

As use of mobile devices continues to increase, instant messaging platforms will be the future of CRM, as Standard Bank has shown using WeChat to communicate with its customers 24/7.

Michal Wronski, Business Development Manager  at Ornica Group

Making brands human and interesting again

Native advertising, sponsored content, corporate journalism, visual storytelling, brand publishing, content marketing – corporate news is everywhere. The secret is out and agencies, corporates and brands alike are all out to get their 3 minutes of YouTube fame. But how do we create a positive and lasting impression that delivers value to our audience? On top of getting noticed or entertaining our audience, how do we ensure we have a positive impact on the businesses we work for?

With newsrooms under pressure to do more, with less, a gap has been created, with many seizing the opportunity to fill it. Newsrooms of today are on our fingertips, it is the phone calls, emails, posts and tweets that all of us do on a daily basis. Each day all of us are sourcing, aggregating, curating and creating our own news. Mashable ran a completely virtual newsroom for almost five years and still relies heavily on remote employees and freelancers.

South Africa media houses continue to face rising costs with Times Media Group, Media24 and the Independent, all having retrenched staff in recent years while also consolidating newsrooms and production teams. The hunger for quality content has never been greater. This presents brands with a massive opportunity.

Organisations are starting to take control of the content creation process, either by taking content production skills in-house or through agency partnership. Although mobile and social media news consumption habits have evolved, legacy platforms have not been abandoned. Instead it has created an opportunity for organisations to become their own publishers.

But what happens when brands effectively become their own Editor in Chief? Eager marketing managers with sales targets setting the agenda is not exactly fertile ground for creative and inspiring ideas to flourish.

On the other side of the coin, we have creative agencies who conceptualize big ideas that have all the bells and whistles to sing, dance and make you a cup of tea, but lack relevance and fail to meet the business objective, (unless of course you are a teabag company).

Winning organisations and practitioners are finding that balance by putting the audience at the centre, understanding that the audience is not ready and waiting to receive your news. Before publishing, a good editor will first consider the intended audience and what they want to see and interact with. Similarly, a brand journalist’s rule of thumb is audience and engagement first, brand second. A brand journalist actively seeks out the story; understands the characters and the journey.
The story is told in an emotive or thought provoking way. This is very different to “corporate spin” used to sell products and services. The brand voice is more liberated from the traditional constraints and has to be authentic and engaging for the audience.

A smart approach to brand storytelling, brings together the boldness and innovative qualities of a creative studio with the agility, responsiveness and timeliness of a newsroom. The challenge is to be nimble enough to respond quickly to the 24-hour news cycle. You need to produce content quickly if you want to be relevant. You then need to leverage that content over multiple channels with different formats and different entry points.

Your brand story lives beyond, a catch phrase or tagline, it needs to make a connection with people, beyond their interaction with your product or service – that’s how you stand out from the crowd.

For many, news is just another form of content that can be used to attract an audience of readers in the hope that they will turn into paying customers. However capturing the essence of a brand and sharing that narrative in a smart, provocative but honest way can win you much more than just headlines and retweets. It can build the brand profitable, long-term relationships.

Tanya Buckley, Head of Content at Magna Carta Reputation Consultants.

#NoToXenophobia: Message from the CEO

Vincent 2015It is with deep sadness that we witness the current spate of violent attacks on foreign nationals who have made South Africa their home. As a proudly African organisation with a presence across this beautiful continent we believe that it would be remiss of us to remain silent whilst these injustices are being carried out in South Africa.

Africa is a continent whose richness comes from the diversity of its cultures. Our collective history is made up of countless stories of the migration of peoples over centuries, where we can trace the similarities in language and culture that bind us and which endure in spite of the lines drawn on a map. The Africa we know and love today has been shaped by this rich history of migration.

Xenophobia is unAfrican. We are all connected and I firmly believe that I am African before I am South African.

As a company with colleagues across the continent, Magna Carta is committed to not only speaking out against xenophobia but to channel our anger and sadness into action.

Employees of Magna Carta are collecting essential goods for the displaced nationals and providing them with some comfort as we patiently pray for peace.

We wish peace and calm for South Africa,

Vincent Magwenya,

CEO – Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants

Magna Carta, a truly global African Reputation Management Consultancy

This year has been a big year for Magna Carta – we celebrated 20 years of managing the reputations of Africa’s top companies.

We have also bolstered our presence on the rest of the continent over the last eight years through the creation of a 16-country partner network, which includes six new affiliate agreements with consultancies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia and Angola.

Vincent Magwenya, Chief Executive Officer of Magna Carta, with our African affiliates who joined us for our inaugural Africa Network conference
Vincent Magwenya, Chief Executive Officer of Magna Carta, with our African affiliates who joined us for our inaugural Africa Network conference

“The six new affiliate agreements carry a level of exclusivity that includes access to our intellectual property as well as some of our most senior consultants,” said Vincent Magwenya, Chief Executive Officer of Magna Carta at the side-lines of the consultancy’s Africa network conference.

“This gives us an almost unrivalled breadth and reach on the continent which is a compelling competitive advantage for us when serving clients that are expanding their own operations throughout Africa.  We are also currently in the process of securing an additional affiliate agreement with a partner in Mozambique.”

We are also celebrating our evolution from a traditional public relations firm to a truly global African reputation management consultancy, highlighting our ongoing commitment to evolve along with the rapidly changing media and information landscape.

Since our birth in 1994, the year of South Africa’s first democratic elections, we have grown into one of Africa’s most recognised reputation management consultancy offering the full spectrum of new media positioning solutions. Our long-term client base includes the likes of Standard Bank, Engen, Deloitte, Oxford University Press, Samsung, Syngenta, Emirates Airlines, Starwood, Medscheme, Bonitas, Vedanta and Eskom as well as a rapidly expanding portfolio of new business opportunities.

In keeping with our philosophy of continual evolution, we revitalized our service offering at the end of last year to mark our transition from a public relations agency to a consultancy offering the full ambit of end-to-end reputation management solutions.

New services include Investor Relations geared to take companies from an initial public offering through to defined market positioning; Advanced Media Training covering digital, print, financial and broadcast channels; and Public Affairs Management that assist clients in their advocacy efforts on regulation and policy.

Magna Carta’s Investor Relations unit has already built up a significant portfolio of clients while the Public Affairs team has four active briefs at present covering both regulatory and policy advocacy. Advanced Media Training has been rolled out to several of the company’s long-standing clients and is rapidly gaining a reputation as the go-to outfit to prepare for media engagement.

“Our transition to a Reputation Management Consultancy is not just a matter of semantics but a fundamental shift in how we do business,” says Magwenya. “Our comprehensive service offering analyses and assists on all factors that impact a client’s reputation, either positively or negatively.”

During the course of 2014 Magna Carta has been able to on-board a prestigious portfolio of new clients that include Transnet Port Terminals, British American Tobacco SA, Clicks, Pernod Ricard, Nissan, Basil Read Group, Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Shanghai Zendai and Pembury. In addition to this, Magna Carta is also working on a strong pipeline of additional new business opportunities.

“We continue to research and integrate global best practice into the service of our clients by leveraging our partnership with TBWA as well as our exclusive African affiliation with Ketchum.

“Our clients’ reputation journey is also our journey – from navigating complex policy and regulatory environments to finding relevant ways of engaging on digital platforms and enabling clients to meet the expectations of today’s consumers and investors,” says Magwenya.

“Thanks to our strong partnerships we can confidently say that we as Magna Carta are a truly global African Reputation Management Consultancy.”

Written by Garth Theunissen, Media Director