Tag Archives: experiential learning

Exploring trends in Branding and PR without men

We ran another very successful PR Boot Camp on Thursday, 20 March. The theme was “Exploring current thinking and trends in Branding and PR.” We covered a wide range of branding and PR information and each participant shared their experience and knowledge on the topic and then got down to actually reworking their own strategies based on their new insights.

Marcel, Lindy and Des hard at workParticipants hard at work

Some of the key questions and issues raised included the ones I’ve listed below and, over the next month or two, I’ll be dealing with each one in a separate blog. However, here I want to focus on the last one: Why is it so difficult to draw local men to PR and Branding workshops?

The PR Boot Camp attracted a group of highly professional participants, including an attorney, two marketing managers – one from a large private hospital, the other from a firm of lawyers – a graphic designer and website builder, a business coach, an owner of companies, a human resource manager, and an online networking business operator. They proved to be a facilitator’s dream because they contributed constantly with insight, expertise and questions. The only thing was – they were all female! We had to ask ourselves, where are the men of Maritzburg?

No rest for the Marketing Manager Boot Camps are hard work

This opened the way for a deviation to an interesting discussion on workplace gender issues. Several of the women there had experienced a sense that some – NOT ALL (no need to get your jockstraps in a knot now!) – men in business still showed ‘traditional’ attitudes towards women. Examples included not taking seriously suggestions on business management that came from a woman; men would pay thousands of rand to go to Johannesburg to attend a seminar when facilitated by a man, while not attending a local one run by a woman of equal calibre; corporate men are generally slow to change or implement new ideas or procedures that are initiated by women.

What IS the reason for these attitudes and behaviours in 2014?

Feel free to comment…………..  while you await the blogs on:

1. Why Brand? Is branding only for cattle?

2. Why a Mission Statement?  Read this article: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/mission-statements-are-a-joke.html

3. Why Ethics and Values in business?

4. How to outplay the Competition?

5. Why Social Network platforms?

6. Why a Communication Strategy?

7. How to brand and market a coaching business?

8. Why is it so difficult to draw local men to PR and Branding workshops?


Don’t forget the PR Boot Camp!

Business people, NGOs and Job seekers alike could gain by attending these 2 full-day workshops on 4 and 11 June at Chamber House, the Royal Showgrounds, Pietermaritzburg from 8.30 to 4.30! Facilitated by Desiray Viney and Mo Machesela, the workshops take participants through their paces, applying new ideas to what they already know, to come up with exciting plans for their own organisations and themselves.

Contact Desiray on dviney@realcommunications.co.za or Cel: 082 875 7194

Register now for the PR Boot Camp

Public Relations Boot Camp registration form

In this comprehensive series of workshops you will learn important information and skills to assist you and your business to strategically plan to build relationships with your publics or stakeholders. Understanding public relations in a wider context rather than simply in terms of publicity and events, and leveraging all opportunities to engage with your stakeholders, will give you the competitive edge, as well as enhance your corporate reputation.
What will participants learn?
 Strategic approach to PR
 Corporate culture, Identity,
 Image and Reputation
 Stakeholder relations
 PR Techniques
What Topics are covered?
 Role, function and approach to PR
 Planning PR messages and activities
 Mission Statement & Values
 Corporate Identity & Brand
 The Media and PR
 Use of PR techniques & tools

Pre-Registration Information
Yes! I would like to attend PR Boot Camp!

Sign me up for the following workshops:
21 May 28 May
04 June 11 June (circle your choice)

All workshops are from 8.30 – 12:30

Each workshop costs R 500.
If you attend ALL 4 you pay R 1 800 in advance.

Your Information

Name: _______________________

Position: _______________________

Organisation: ____________________

Tel/Cel: ______________________

Email Add: _________________________

Payment to:

D L Viney ABSA Bank Code 632005 Account No 4070604371

Please email proof of payment with the completed form.

Building Relationships is the core of business

Over the years business has learnt that reputational capital is not gained only through product quality and sales, but also through the way we do business and the impression we make on our key stakeholders through our actions externally, in society, and in the the way we deal with our employees. Therefore it is necessary to develop the knowledge and skills to maintain and manage these ‘target public’ relations to create a positive brand image that leads to loyalty to us when the going gets tough.

For a business or organisation to be consistent, clear and in its stakeholder communication and action, all employees and management have to uphold the same values and mission and develop common messages or stories based on this vision, and be specific to each of their stakeholders. Each target public, including staff, must feel they have a stake in the success of a company they’re involved with.

And that is where a workshop course in public or stakeholder relations can be extremely useful – not only for management, but for shop-floor people too. Learning more about how corporates communicate is crucial in getting all employees aware of the influence of their communication and actions on specific publics.

Using an experiential learning method within a workshop format, participants at these workshops are exposed to the ‘theory’ of public relations while engaging with theory by applying it to their specific work scenarios. This enables them to return to the workplace with new ideas and perspectives to contribute to the corporate communication function.

REAL Communication Consulting is facilitating its first series of workshops entitled, An Introduction to Public Relations, in May/June. It is aimed at small business owners and staff, NGOs, public service providers and individuals who want to improve their relationship building through communication. Each workshop will run on a Tuesday morning from 8.30 to 12.30 over four weeks from May 21 to June 11. The venue is The Barn at Kwanyoni in Hilton. Being in a beautiful environment away from the office stimulates interaction with people from other companies and encourages out-of-box thinking. Participants can then return to work with positive and constructive contributions to the company’s operations.

A Workshop schedule and the cost will be posted on the website too.
Anyone interested can contact the facilitator, Desiray.

SA education is failing but is going online the answer?

One of the pervading themes of our social discourse these days is our failing (as in not working and not passing) education system and poor teachers (as in bad and as in badly-paid). It seems everyone, from the Education Department itself, to the business community, parents and the public in general, all under-value teachers, not only in terms of monetary value but also in terms of the respect and the status given to the profession. It’s a really serious social problem that needs to be addressed.

I am an educator and have been one for close on thirty years. So for me it’s sad and demoralising when I read, hear, see and experience how lowly people perceive teachers. On a daily basis I’ve heard students say things like, “My father would kill me if I wanted to be a teacher!” Asked why, they reply, “There’s no money!” or “It’s an awful job!” Yet when parents are asked what they think is their most important wish or goal for their children, they say “education.” Isn’t that strange? What’s going on here? How can we begin to repair this damaged outlook? We can’t expect our children to be educated without teachers. And, yes, teachers have to earn respect through showing dedication to their vocation and understand it’s not just a job. Being a teacher is also being a mentor, a role model, one who socializes the youth regarding ethical, responsible citizenship.
I could go on and on, offering my own solution to the problem, but hey, I’m only an educator, what do I know? So can’t we throw it open up the conversation to allow really concerned and capable educational, social, economic parties – not the government or politicians – to come up with constructive workable plans of action?

Many who view education, like everything else in society, in terms of economics are offering solutions. One of particular interest is that of giving students computers and/or offering online education. Although very valid and logical in terms of access to information, there are very important educational and cognitive factors that seem to be overlooked. (Read Jeff Selingo’s article on free online courses – LinkedIn.com).
For example, based on the belief that teacher/student contact is no longer imperative to learning and teaching, some educational institutions are in the process of phasing out contact sessions such as lectures and tutorials, and using online teaching materials and methods. However, I believe that, if these ‘places of learning’ take away the personal contact between teacher and student, it will be the very students who desperately need the extra personal attention who will fall behind and by the wayside.
So, what’s the story here? Is this new ‘educational’ plan based on teaching and learning theory or on economics? Perhaps it’s because educational institutions get more funding for the research they produce than for the students they put through, so lecturers are made to spend more of their time on research and not on teaching in classrooms. Who wins? NOT the students. What educational values are being embraced? Is money and funding the over-riding value even in an educational institution?

On the topic of online learning, Walter Baets’ article, “Online education heralds changes” (Source: Financial Mail via I-Net Bridge on 17 Feb 2013, in BizCommunity) questions, “Will online studies be a panacea for Africa’s learning deficit? For example, in business education, will online programs stimulate entrepreneurial growth and improve practical business acumen? In order to achieve more than mere material presentation, “online learning must be delivered in an appropriate way, based on an understanding of what learning is, how people learn, and why they feel the need to learn. Simply making intellectual content available online will not necessarily result in learning. Learning is a complex process that takes place in the head of the learner, who engages with the material that is presented in a certain way and in a certain context”, says Baets.

He is not the only writer who emphasises the importance of experiential learning. Baets maintains that “A key part of this process is that people need to experience learning…… to feel it happening, similar to an athlete who can feel the burn in his muscles as he trains. For learners this should happen through interaction with peers in the classroom, or back in the workplace, where learning is doing, where theory is put into practice……it is crucial that learners be given the incentive to embark on this kind of experiential learning journey. Content must be delivered in a way that demands that learners try out what they are taught. Learning really only comes alive when it is given personal meaning. What is learned is only a small part of the equation. How the knowledge is used afterwards counts for everything.”

Baets concludes, “… online education is a blessing for the many who have little chance of gaining access to high-quality, credible educational material. But….. higher learning institutions in Africa should become more rigorous about their roles and responsibilities in developing the intellectual capacity of nations.”

For me, online courses serve to give learners access to material or content that will assist in their obtaining some form of certification but that needs to be augmented with skills gained from experiential learning.

Another view on online education comes from Douglas Rushkoff (@CNNOpinion on Twitter) who maintains that “For pure knowledge acquisition, it’s hard to argue against such developments, especially in an era that doesn’t prioritize enrichment for its own sake. But it would be a mistake to conclude that online courses fulfil the same role in a person’s life as a college education, just as it would be an error to equate four years of high school with some online study and a GED exam”.

Although Rushkoff sees the merits of online education, he has certain reservations:
“First off, subjects tend to be conveyed best in what might be considered their native environments. Computers might not be the best place to simulate a live philosophy seminar, but they are terrific places to teach people how to use and program computers. Second, computers should not require the humans using them to become more robotic. Some online video lectures are delivered according to a rigid script, where every action was choreographed. That’s not teaching; it’s animatronics… …….online learning needs to cater to human users. A real instructor should not simply dump data on a person, as in a scripted video, but engage with students, consider their responses and offer individualized challenges…..the good, living teacher probes the way students think and offers counterexamples that open pathways”.
“Finally, education does not happen in isolation. The course material is almost secondary to the engagement. We go to college for the people……..heterogeneous groupings of students based on their profiles and past performance… [classrooms] create ample opportunities for them to engage with one another in the spirit of learning. Perhaps this spirit of mutual aid is what built the Internet in the first place. Now that this massive collaborative learning project has succeeded, it would be a shame if we used it to take the humanity out of learning altogether”.

I second that. So let’s put our heads together to develop relevant and appropriate teaching and learning in South Africa in a way that makes optimal use of people, technology, knowledge and skills to deliver to our society thinking, caring, hardworking citizens. Education is a core aspect of our society and what it says about who we are and what values we uphold as a nation.