Koketso: Please introduce yourself, who you are and what you do?
Kgomotso: My name is Kgomotso Mamabolo, Founding Director of Passion Projects. I’m a BTech Public Relations graduate from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) with about 3 years experience in various industries including consumer, luxury, hospitality, art and design PR. I’m an ambitious young woman who is full of passion and determination. People who know me generally describe me as hardworking and reliable. I’m also a lover of all things creative; art, food and nature.
Koketso: What inspired you to study and work as a PR Professional?
Kgomotso: I’m not sure if inspired would be the right word; I just knew that it would be something I could do and that I would excel in it. Communication and writing have always been my strength. My first option, when I applied to study at CPUT, was Fashion Design and the second option was Public Relations.
However, Fashion Design was already full so by default I was accepted into PR. I’ve always had a good eye for art and creativity but I’ve had to accept that I’m not an artist but rather an advocate for the skill. What’s really interesting is that my mom actually studied PR as well but never got to graduate. It’s almost like I was destined to become a PRP.
Koketso: What is Passion Projects and what is it that you guys do?
Kgomotso: Passion Projects is a public relations consultancy that helps African brands, individuals and entrepreneurs within the creative industry to build and maintain their reputations. We create engaging stories with heart and soul that contribute to a positive African narrative and African excellence. We share these stories with print, broadcast and online media, manage VIP RSVP and write biographies for creatives, brands and companies. We imagine the possibilities of tomorrow.
Koketso: Take us through the first few months of starting your business; the challenges, your highlights and all the moments in-between.
Kgomotso: My journey as an entrepreneur began when my good friend Ofentse “King Debs” Letebele was selected as the BOS Ice Tea design-a-can competition winner for 2014. He asked me to assist him with his PR to which I agreed to; because that’s what friends do. I managed to secure a few interviews for him online and on radio and never looked back since.
Thereafter, Ruramai “Rudo” Musekiwa, editor of Sibahle Magazine who is also an illustrator asked me to do her PR for the Sibahle Women’s Day Campaign which was a great success. It was well received locally and internationally and we even managed to get an interview with, OkayAfrica, SABC and a front cover with the Sunday Independent.
The work I did with Debs and Rudo gave me the confidence to register Passion Projects last year November. It has also led to more artists and creatives such as Eyethu Gallery, Loyiso Mkize, Creative Nestlings, and Ronald Muchatuta etc. wanting to work with me. Our greatest highlight so far is being approached by Red Bull Amaphiko to do some PR work for their Academy Alumni and attaining our first international client, Ndosi Strategies, based in New York City, USA.
I’ve had to make some major sacrifices for the success of Passion Projects like moving from Cape Town to Johannesburg. I knew that I simply wasn’t going to afford the rent. I also felt like I was making such a drastic change in my life that I might as well change everything entirely so I could grow and develop wholeheartedly.
As for the challenges: I’ve had months where I wasn’t sure if I would have work which is really stressful. Learning that some clients won’t always pay on time has been one of the lessons. My laptop was out of action for about a month in the middle of a campaign which was really scary; I thought I lost everything and that I would loose the client. I’ve been very fortunate enough to have a good support structure. With every disappointment I’ve had, I’ve been able to get back up and look at it as a lesson going forward.
Koketso: Your business is industry specific. Do you mainly work with businesses within the creative industry; who have you worked with and what lesson have you learnt from those businesses?
Kgomotso: Even though my niche in PR is the creative industry, sometimes I need to be open to other industries. In the creative industry, I’ve worked with an art gallery, an art museum, a contemporary artist, illustrators, photographers and a creative network and agency.
I’ve also worked with a legal office and a firm providing affordable marketing, research, partnership curation, international platforms and economic investment opportunities for primarily African-led Start-ups, public/private Organisations, SMMEs, and entrepreneurs.
From all these businesses, the non-creative ones included, I’ve learnt that I need to tailor my services depending on each one’s needs and goals, there is no blueprint that works for every client. Sometimes, I’m required to educate the client about my craft, to ensure that once we work on a project together they understand the services we provide them with and the value of PR.
Koketso: How do you feel PR businesses are improving the quality of how the world views South African businesses?
Kgomotso: The PR industry regularly provides the media with positive narratives about South African businesses, giving them an opportunity to build their reputations. A true PRP will keep the business honest, as media will scrutinise the facts and focus on the true stories. Publicity is more valuable than ads, and keeping to what is said publically holds businesses accountable. With the help of technology and online media, these stories reach audiences on a global scale. One great example of this that I can give you is my client; Ruramai “Rudo” Musekiwa, a Johannesburg-based illustrator who was approached by the producers of the movie Birth of a Nation to do some illustrations for the book. Whether directly or indirectly, the PR I did for her has created a ripple effect of global awareness about her brand and work.
Koketso: Which businesses in the creative industry do you see yourself working with in the near future and why?
Kgomotso: I’m really excited because I’ve already been approached by an advertising agency and a marketing firm that want to partner and collaborate with passion projects on future projects. I can’t mention who until everything has been finalised, although we will make an announcement when the time is right. I’m also hoping that more art galleries and internal communication teams incorporates will recognise and approach us for PR support like Red Bull Amaphiko has.
Koketso: Going forward, how do you see Passion Projects growing, what should we expect from you?
Kgomotso: Passion Projects is still in its early stages. I’d like to establish it as a force to be reckoned within the creative industry. I want to focus on refining the overall business strategy, branding and packages/services offered. I’d like to see us gain a few retainer clients so that Passion Projects can become sustainable. This will also allow me to hire a team of industry experts so that I’m not spreading myself out so thinly, at the moment it’s a one woman band with support resources from some very kind people