South African PR industry leader Tracy Jones’ award-winning agency is entering its 16th year in the industry with a clean sweep at the 2022 Prisms, and a growth spurt that has seen the agency embrace Dialogue as its new name, and substantially expand its client base and team with a tranche of strategic appointments.
Formerly known as Positive Dialogue, the agency is rebranding to a more impactful derivation of its name, Dialogue, because it “makes strategic sense”, said Jones. “The world is changing and so is PR. As a strategic artform, PR has evolved to be a myriad of dialogues – and not necessarily only positive ones. In a world of social media trolls, fake news, targeted misinformation, incidental confusion, bias bubbles, and the rise of conscious culture, trust is hard to find and harder to authentically create. That is when the power of dialogue comes to the fore. Being involved in shaping authentic perception and building trust through strategic communication has always been my core driver, and seeing the true value of PR becoming recognised as central to business strategy is deeply rewarding.”
Dialogue again had a good showing at the 2022 Prism Awards which took place in Gauteng on Friday evening, 15 July. The agency won silver for 'Best Mid-sized Public Relations Consultancy', long-time senior team member Cherná Lutta won 'Best PR Professional', and account manager Zahra Fridie won 'Best Up and Coming Public Relations Professional', showing that the team is made up of the best of the best in the industry. The agency also won a bronze award for their work on Fast Heroes South Africa.
Since the start of 2022, Dialogue has seen massive growth across its client portfolios, having recently added Pepsi Max, Johnson & Johnson Neutrogena, Fast Heroes South Africa, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, GoldPhish Cyber Security, the Azetco Bitcoin platform and the RTEOR Group to its client base. The agency’s existing clients include Coronation Fund Managers, Teneo Online School, Marriott International, Citadel, and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.
Looking to the future, Jones believes the agency – which is a partner in the Duke Group – will continue to draw strength from its strong strategic corporate communications offering. “The main areas of growth we’ve seen in the last two years have been in strategic corporate communications which now accounts for at least half of our client portfolio.”
“And, as brands today are defined by what people say about their organisation, the need for employee brand advocacy, and internal communications, has also become a business driver for us. Given our partnership in the Duke Group, we’ve collectively been honing our skills in fully integrated campaigns centred around an insight-driven creative idea, that delivers meaningful results for our Duke Group clients. The value to clients is that they’re able to work with one central point of contact that feeds through into the other six in-house specialist agencies, saving time and budget, whilst gaining an incredible ‘brains trust’ to tackle their business challenges.”
To keep up with its client growth, Dialogue recently made two strategic hires and two promotions:
Having been with the agency for 10 years, Cherná steps into a new position created especially for her, as PR operations director. This will see her passion for training and mentoring young talent realised as she oversees this important agency role, together with client onboarding, agency operations, and campaign projects. “Cherná has a meticulous approach to her work which means that no detail is too small, directly contributing to the success of the campaigns she works on. She offers dedicated client service, a proactive approach and talent for strategic implementation. She has proven herself excellent at results-driven execution to ensure outstanding results. To the rest of the industry, she’ll be known as our PR operations director, but to us, Cherna is affectionately known as ‘the Oracle’, due to her ability to always have the answer, or find a solution to every challenge,” said Jones.
According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, Melissa is classified as having an E NFP personality type – a people-centred creative, with a focus on possibilities and contagious enthusiasm for new ideas, people and activities. She has spent the past 16 years in journalism, PR and communications working for various B2B, technology, financial services and consumer clients such as Microsoft MEA, Standard Bank CIB, Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search, the South African Supplier Diversity Council and Cresta Shopping Centre, to name a few. Douman is a certified life coach and NLP practitioner.
From starting out as a PR intern at MSL, Ahlumile has grown to see the value of PR to clients. With 6+ years’ industry experience, he has amassed an extensive media relations database and experience, activating PR projects in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for brands such as Turkish Airlines, Energy Partners, SITA, Mazars, Business/Partners Limited, Cipla South Africa, PSG Insure and SHA Risk Specialist.
Zahra started out as an intern at Dialogue just two and a half years ago and already has a Prism award and two promotions within the agency’s B2B team to her name, the latest being her promotion to the position of account manager last month.