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Slaying the PR game

The effervescent broadcaster, Helen Namponya. Pic by Tank Khumalo.

Candid, talkative and energetic, these are some of the adjectives that we can use to describe the full of life and one of Bloemfontein’s it girls, Helen Namponya.

The Bloemfontein based online radio broadcaster and PR professional works for one of Africa's biggest food retailers where her portfolio includes public relations, CSI and events. Additionally, her team runs mobile soup kitchens which provide hunger relief in their division which are Free State, Northern Cape, parts of North West as well as Lesotho.

Prior to this she was the Grads Girl - graduation coordinator - at the Free State University.

"I ate, breathed, lived, slept graduations. I was graduations and graduations were me. My experience in retail is zero so it's an exciting challenge for me to learn about collections, shrinkage, swell allowances, stock ordering and so on," she says excitedly.

"I'm incredibly blessed to be in an environment that is conducive to my growth and development and welcoming of my expertise," she says.

She concedes that the career chose her. "To be honest, I think it chose me and if my dad had his way I'd probably be a financial journalist. I shudder at the thought. I'd thought I would be an investigative journalist after thinking I'd be a forensic entomologist but then I woke up one morning and hated worms, that's a story for another day," Helen says.

But her university of choice - University of the Free State - did not offer Journalism in 2006 when she arrived there.

So she opted for the closest thing, a degree in Media Studies. During this period she was introduced to the PR, internal communication stream.

"I just found myself drawn to the field and I suppose the fact that it's generally unpredictable is what I liked most. I get bored quickly," she says.

In this field, she could be coordinating an event today, writing a speech or release tomorrow, doing media drops the next. "I love that and being able to interact with people from all walks of life - there are many lessons to be learnt from the people we meet".

How does she want to change the game?

"I don't. I don't wake up thinking "how can I change the game/media landscape?" I'm merely someone who loves what she does passionately. I also know who I am and what I want to achieve...sometimes more often than not I step on toes and sometimes I don't. I'm driven by what I want to achieve for myself and what lessons I want my daughter to learn from me" she says.

Parting Shot: Don't compromise yourself! Ever! Also trust your gut. If it tells you to run then run!



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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