Reputation in the United Kingdom is a big deal! Hence, a number of PR agencies in South Africa are rooted in British soil. Just think about agencies such as Ogilvy, and the collapsed Bell Pottinger, which was reported to have been involved in a scandal during the Gupta saga.

But that’s just the crux of it! media update’s Nakedi Phala dissects the styles, languages and influences in regards to how SA PR practices operate in comparison to the UK.

PR measurement and languages

Any PR pro can tell you that tools such as media monitoring services are vital for understanding the depth of a PR campaign.

But, how do Mzansi PR professionals measure their PR efforts? Well, an important thing to note is the difference in use of language. With 11 official languages, it’s important for practitioners to know exactly who is talking about their campaign and in what dialect. Because of the diversity of mother-tongue speakers, you’ll need a local media monitoring solution that can pick up on anything from isiZulu to Afrikaans.

This is because any one of these language speakers could be talking about your brand, and you’ll need to know how it’s being mentioned — Kaobane ase segowa sewe aseboleli gori agona mabari-bari!

In the UK, PR pros are more focused on English, as this is the main official language and is widely spoken by everyone. However, there are other areas PR pros could be focussing on, such as Welsh, Gaelic, Irish and Cornish. Therefore, the types of keywords that both SA and the UK would focus on would vary in language; and let’s not forget that each has its own set of slang words too!

These words you’ll often find in PR pros’ campaigns and ads. And considering how popular social media terminology is becoming, it’s important for practitioners to be mindful of how they use these words to avoid a crisis. Your audience can be harsh when they want to be — customers, batlalo hurda!

PR employment

Using social media platforms like LinkedIn as a point of reference, it seems that PR job requirements in the UK are more specific compared to South Africa.

Why is this? Well, in SA, recruiters and agencies seek people who not only understand the PR role but someone who has a strong background in media and marketing — and that’s their focus.

While in the UK, they have a strong demand for public relations professionals to work in positions that require the skills and knowledge of a PR pro specifically.

According to LinkedIn, in SA, there are plus-minus 1 000 jobs in public relations on offer. In the UK, there are 23 times more PR jobs on offer, sitting at an average of 24 000.

South Africa:

United Kingdom:

This could also be because the UK itself has a higher population, coming at 66 million people. Mzansi has nearly 59 million people — and let’s not forget the employment rate has declined in the first quarter of the year 2021, with SA dropping to 38.01% from 38.20%. The UK seems to still be able to employ, although the country has dropped from 4.8 to just 4.7%.

Beyond the drops in employment, according to these statistics, the UK’s employment rate is higher than that of SA. So, now you know between SA and the UK which has more PR career opportunities.

Political climate

For as long as there’s a government, parliament and politicians, there’s political influence — such as national policies that impact the way a PR pro or agency operates.

In SA, the political environment is driven by culture, tradition and, importantly, diversity. Why is this? Well, a country like SA carries a rich history, meaning that a PR pro or agency has to learn about some events that now shape the current and future of the country’s direction.

In the UK, it seems things are still kept formal, with the aim of PR still focused on the objectives of government PR, lobby groups, public affairs and media management.

Although South Africa has lobby groups, they’re still not as popular as they seem to be in the United Kingdom.

And, it doesn’t seem there is much cultural influence in how a PR pro would conduct their work since nearly 98% speak English, which is dubbed as a business language all over the world.

The UK forms part of the developed nations while SA is a developing country. Thus, one can say that SA is not doing badly, and thus, there’s still growth for its PR industry.

Now that we compared the PR in the United Kingdom versus South Africa, is there really such a big difference? Let us know in the comments section below.

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In need of some in-depth knowledge about PR? Say no more! Here’s How to take your PR to the next level: A Q&A with Jacki McEwen-Powell.
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