Behind your favourite ZAlebs are a few very important people who put together the deal, create the buzz and make sure we (the media and the public) know what's going on in the entertainment industry but they often go unseen...
These people are the "gate-keepers" of the game and at some point, you will need to make friends with them if you want to make in this cut-throat industry.
Melanie Ramjee (@hypress) is a well-known publicist and influencer in the industry and has worked with some of the largest events and concerts in South Africa. ZAlebs caught up with her to find out more about life as a publicist and how to be successful in the industry.
Describe yourself in three words?
Kind. Loyal. Authentic.
What exactly is does a Public Relations job entail and how much can a professional earn from the career?
Public Relations is all about conveying the image of a brand to the public in a positive light. Depending on your level of business or level in the industry you can make a basic to decent living off of being a PR manager. Also the caliber of clients you have determine your earnings. The bigger corporate PR agencies make crazy money
Was it difficult starting on your own?
It was scary. I had one client at the time and no understanding of how to find more clients.
What has been your proudest moment?
I have worked with some amazing brands and even more amazing projects. One of my proudest moments in my career includes my work with Miller Genuine Draft. We took a cool brand and made it super cool from the young SA market. From small campus activations to concerts with international artists, the brand represented all things cool
Also my work with the South African Open and Tshwane Open. Where we made golf cool for a completely different market.
Would you ever name and shame a few celebrities?
Sadly not. I'm in the PR game so that person could be my client tomorrow. I'll write a book one day.
Please tell us your experience with Lebo Mathosa?
We were close. Very close. I loved her dearly. I still have never had closure about her passing.
She kept asking me to meet up before she died as she had something to tell me. I was too busy traveling for work. A few days after I got back from a New York trip, I got the call that she passed from my brother. Life has never been the same without her.
How can someone get into the business?
Same as any business really. Work hard. Excel in your craft. Stay focused. And study your craft of course as it forms the foundation of what you need to know.
Is the industry really as tough as it seems?
Breaking into any industry is tough. There are thousands of people just as talented and hard-working as you are. What makes you stand out is a combination of hard work, talent, and some luck.
The publicist is all about contact and who you know. If you don't stay ahead of the game and know whose who in the zoo, you can be obsolete and 'irrelevant' in the industry
Tell us about Nail World and your association with the event?
I am an ambassador for Nail World. I was super excited to be called by their PR agency Jarred Doyle Consulting a few weeks back about the whole project. Which girl doesn't like to be pampered. I and the other ambassadors are hosting a success party in an upmarket Sandton restaurant to celebrate all things Nails. It's going to be fun.
Do you often get hounded for free tickets, how do you manage this?
All the damn time.
I usually ignore calls and messages that are really random or disrespectful. But honestly, this comes with the package of PR. I am who I am because of PR, being my popularity on social media and the PR industry as a whole.
Otherwise, I actually have 2 numbers so I usually use the second number during bigger events and only answer calls from numbers I do know.
What advice do you have do you have for the youth and the Open Up the Industry movement?
It took me over 15 years to get to where I am today. Paying your dues is really set up for a reason. Gives you the experience and know how or how it all works. Shortcuts are nice and are rarely sustainable. Here I am years later still excelling in what I do.
Main Image Credit: Instagram/@hypress