media update’s Talisa Jansen van Rensburg takes a look at what PR professionals need to do in order to reach the diverse people of South Africa.

South Africa is a unique country with a lot of different cultures. Thus, the best way to equip yourself to reach these individuals is to show that you understand that ‘local is lekker’; you will, therefore, need to build up your knowledge and educate yourself. 

It is easy to think that you can merely just throw people into a category, linking them by generation, gender or location, and think that’s enough to reach them —  but that simply just isn’t good enough anymore. 

Here are five ways PR pros can reach South Africans:

1. Make use of humour 

If brands like Nando’s and King Price have taught us anything, it’s that South Africans love humour. Therefore, if you want to catch the eyes of your consumers, be sure to send out a press release regarding your client’s brand in a way that tickles their funny bone. 

King Price did this by exposing a communication gap between two people from different cultures. In the brand’s advert, the two South Africans have distinguishable accents, which the brand uses to send out its message in the ad.

Check it out:

This ad is a great example of how brands can use humour that South Africans will understand and relate to. However, be careful to ensure that your joke isn’t offensive and that it will be taken with a pinch of salt.

2. Learn to speak their language

This might seem like a difficult task — especially because there are 11 official languages in South Africa. But you’ll need to adapt if you really want to get your message across. 

For example, consider learning how to speak a little bit of Tsotsitaal, which “is a mixture of various South African languages that the country’s people have come to know and love.”

Here are some examples of Tsotsitaal to get you started
  • Spaneng, which means ‘work’
  • Kas'lam, which refers to ‘my hometown’
  • Transi, which translates to to ‘your car’ or ‘transport’ 
An example of a sentence would be “die man wa speeta!”, which means “this guy is full of himself.”

By making yourself acquainted with different languages, you will be able to create specific messages that will most definitely reach them. 

It’s also worth taking the time to get acquainted with the local slang, such as ‘dinges’ (refers to a thing),  ‘lekker’ (it means it is enjoyable) and ‘ja, Ma’ (this normally refers to when a friend annoys you and want to say they need to stop nagging you).

Utilising this type of language will allow you to entertain and get your audience hooked. 

3. Don’t play by the rules

Boring content never goes down well with audiences, especially with younger generations. Therefore, if you really want to capture their attention, you will need to think outside the box and break a few rules along the way. Unique and different content is one of the biggest things that the people in SA crave. 

As a PR professional, you will need to place a lot of attention and focus on creating messages with uniqueness and diversity in mind. The best PR campaigns are ones that offer something completely out of the ordinary and are far from the norm — so get your thinking caps on!

4. Focus on keeping it diverse

If you want to better communicate with South Africans, you will need to tap right into the heartbeat of the country, which is, ultimately, diversity

Nando’s did an amazing job at capturing many different South African cultures in an advert that it did back in 2012. Not only did the brand list different cultures but it also included humour, which is, as you know, a great way to communicate with SA audiences.

The brand also put out a campaign titled ‘#RightMyName’, where it listed the many different South African names that spell checkers claim to be spelt incorrectly. The campaign was sent out just before Humans Right Day in 2018, and the goal was to have the red line underneath the names submitted to Nando’s’ website be taken away.

By focusing on getting to know the different names and cultures within South Africa — such as Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim, and Afrikaner — your PR agency allow be able to create messages for clients that will be applicable to each of these cultures.

5. Never use stereotypes as a guideline 

It is easy to think that a stereotype is true and that will help you better connect and communicate with the relevant people you want to reach, but in South Africa, this is the wrong way to go.

For example, if you think that all Afrikaans people enjoy Afrikaans music and sokkie, you are sorely mistaken. The same thing goes for if you think that all black people speak only one African language — again, just don’t

As a PR professional, you will need to be extremely mindful when wanting to send over a specific message. South Africa is also known to be highly political, and if you send out a message portraying a stereotype, you will soon be trending on Twitter — and not in a good way.

So, be mindful and get to know the actual people in South Africa and not their stereotypes.

What are some other ways to communicate with a South African audience in your opinion? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

U lava mahungu aku hisa? Tsalela hina...

Do you want to learn more about South African culture and how PR professionals can get involved? Then be sure to check out How PR can help kasi brands reach their goals.
*Image courtesy of Pexels