After acquiring a Diploma in Public Relations in 2018, Keowin Knowlden immediately started working as an intern at Atmosphere Communications. This opportunity launched his PR career and after a mere two years in the industry he became an account manager at just 24-years-old. Knowlden has been part of a team who has won several awards, including a Loeries in 2018 and Prisms in 2019 and 2021...
Keowin Knowlden, account manager at Atmosphere Communications
As part of our #YouthMatters focus, I find out more from the up-and-coming PR professional...
Tell us more about Atmosphere Communications and what your role as an account manager entails?
Atmosphere is an integrated corporate and brand communications consultancy with offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Creativity drives everything we do, and we pride ourselves on delivering campaigns that help our clients stand-out from the crowd.
This has led the agency to being one of the most consistently awarded PR consultancy in South Africa.
As an account manager, I have facilitated communications across the company’s consumer PR client portfolio. This includes brands such as DStv, G-Star RAW, Boschendal Wines, Hennessy, Bang & Olufsen and Belvedere. I also manage a team of younger professionals, passing on what I’ve learnt in the industry up to now.
What sparked your interest in getting into PR?
Funny enough, I had was enrolled to study Law before I opted to get into PR – and the inspiration is quite odd. As a teenager, I had quite the obsession with TV series, Scandal, and Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington) was a major inspiration. Of course, the idea of PR in the show is far from the reality of the industry, but as soon as I was enrolled, I knew it was the career path I wanted to pursue.
How did you get into the industry?
With my graduation coming up in 2018, I started reaching out to surrounding PR agencies for internships at the end of 2017. I knew from the start that I wanted to work at Atmosphere, the company’s growth inspired me, and the company had all the credentials I wanted to have with my first job. I was soon hired as an intern at the agency – a month before graduating mind you.
What excites you the most about PR?
What I find most attractive about PR is it’s everchanging nature. No two days are the same, two hours barely are.
The dynamic nature of the industry ensures that one always remains challenged and allows for constant growth and teachable moments.
I have also always been a lover of quality storytelling. PR allows me to maximize that strength.
Besides being in PR, what other talents do you have?
I alluded to it earlier, I am quite the writing-enthusiast. I haven’t sought out to make any of my work’s public yet, although I may be looking to do so soon. I also have a great love for performative dance. After performing as a nationally recognised Ballroom dancer in my teenage years, I enjoy attending classes sporadically as a means of relaxation and exercise.
What would you say are the qualities needed to get into PR?
Flexibility, storytelling/writing, critical thinking, relationship building and thick skin. I would also highlight a keenness to learning as an important factor as well. The industry is ever-changing and learning through the experiences of others or adapting skills they’ve acquired is beneficial.
What is the one project you have worked on that you are incredibly proud of?
I am proud of the recent collaboration we facilitated between Hennessey and street-turned-studio artist Faith XLVII, with the brand commissioning Faith to complete their iconic Mural Trilogy.
The trilogy has been seven years in the making and pays tribute to South African game-changers. It features Nelson Mandela, depicted by international artist Shepard Fairey in 2014 (Braamfontein); Yvonne Chaka Chaka, brought to life by Portuguese street artist Vhils in 2018 (Maboneng); and now, Faith XLVII’s tribute to women, which was unveiled on 22 April on Smit Service Rd in Braamfontein.
Faith is an incredible South African talent and it was an honour to be involved in this project.
What are the victories that you’ve had since starting out?
Being from the Cape Flats, one of my greatest victories is being able to share an inspirational story of growth with scholars in my community. Professionally, my first year in the industry was flushed with awards and acclaim and was truly a standout for me. A particular highlight was working on the ‘Lives of Grace’ campaign with Sanlam, which went on to win 2 PRISM awards (was nominated for Campaign of the Year), 2 Loerie awards and garnered high praise from the industry.
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
It’s PR, not ER. Also, as cliché as it sounds, everything really does happen for a reason.
As we come to the end of Youth Month, do you have any words of encouragement for the youth?
Always remain teachable. Everything everyone knows they have learnt – even your greatest idol. So you can learn it too. Another thing to remember is that you are your first client, so be kind to yourself and make sure you always present your best.