This #WomensMonth, we go behind the selfie with Laura Owings Rawden - head of Locomedia communications agency and chair of Safrea.
Is there a better city to freelance in? Rawden getting some fresh air between clients on the promenade.
1. Where do you live, work and play?
Cape Town, and where the Wi-Fi and coffee is good. Often Red Sofa Cafe in Vredehoek, which has both.
2. What’s your claim to fame?
Having been a successful freelancer for over 10 years, and now sharing that experience and passion as the chair of Safrea, where I can put it to use helping improve the industry and fight for fair pay and practices.
I started out as a microbiologist working in a laboratory before being recruited by ABC News in NYC as a health and science journalist. Proof that you never know where your career will eventually take you! Working there, I discovered a deep passion for news and the communications industry. I then moved to Europe to pursue a master's degree in international media and journalism, before landing in Amsterdam and launching their first English-language news magazine. Along the way, I've worked as a broadcast news writer, radio presenter, magazine and book editor, and PR rep. Now I run Locomedia, a small agency that specialises in content, PR and social media strategy.
4. Tell us a few of your favourite things.
Good, strong coffee first thing in the morning – drunk in bed while playing with my eight-month old boy. I'm also a huge fan of good wine, absorbing fiction, dark chocolate and Llandudno beach.
5. What do you love about your industry?
I love the fact that the freelance industry is growing and that we're talking about it now as the 'future of work'. The traditional 9-5 just isn't working for those of us in media. As an industry, we're always facing layoffs and downsizing, and freelance opens a lot of doors that wouldn't be there if we were all forced to fight for the few full-time jobs out there.
That said, the freelance market, especially in SA, is growing with many highly skilled and incredibly experienced professionals, so it's getting more competitive – in a good way. Freelance is no longer seen as someone in a bikini with a laptop, sitting under a palm tree. It’s being respected as a career that people work hard to grow and maintain through quality work and professional attitudes.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
As a freelancer, every day is different. But I am a slave to routine in that I start all days sorting the inbox, then tackling my day's to-do list. I always end the work day with a list of priorities for the next day, so I always know where my focus is when I arrive at the office.
7. What are the tools of your trade?
A laptop with Word, a good smartphone and a reliable Wi-Fi connection… and coffee!
8. Who is getting it right in your industry?
I'm currently obsessed with the new news round-up site Piqd. It brings together exceptional news and storytelling from all genres, with commentary from experts who are deeply connected to the issues. It goes beyond saying 'this is a great story you should read' to saying why a story is relevant and what makes it stand out. Their daily digest is a must-have newsletter.
9. List a few pain points the industry can improve on.
News aggregators are the worst. The trend in the industry toward repackaging old content and selling it as new is seriously damaging the relationship storytellers have with their audience. It's borderline plagiarism and we have real talent out there that's just waiting to write good – new – stories.
10. What are you working on right now?
I've just joined a startup to help with their PR and comms strategy. Their focus is the local wine industry, growing awareness of the great wines produced in SA and how accessible they are. Stay tuned!
11. Tell us some of the buzzwords floating around in your industry at the moment, and some of the catchphrases you utter yourself.
#fakenews. Sadly, it's thrown around a lot more than it should be, and rarely when it should be.
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