A prominent public relations practitioner has hit out at the brand communications industry, claiming few agencies really understand black people. In a frank discussion with the FM, Bonnke Shipalana, CEO of The Communications Firm, says: "The majority of South Africans were born in an era where their voices were restrained by the apartheid system. Unfortunately, after 24 years of freedom, little has changed as to how agencies communicate and engage with them. "Knowledge about black people cannot be limited and restricted to who the target audience is but should rather be expanded to how they live and behave." He says determining how agencies engage with black consumers based on who they are — unless the conversation is led and curated by black agency practitioners — leads to "undermining and undervaluing their power, influence and affluence". The Communications Firm is part of the MSG Media Group and counts among its clients Sasol, Anglo Platinum, the Industrial Development Corp and ...

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