#YouthMatters: Ashleigh Burton, head of social media at Weber Shandwick Africa

Starting out as a copywriter over a decade ago, Ashleigh Burton has a passion for using digital platforms to tell stories.
#YouthMatters: Ashleigh Burton, head of social media at Weber Shandwick Africa

BizcommunityCan you tell us about Weber Shandwick Africa and what your role entails?

Weber Shandwick is one of the world's leading global public relations firms with offices in major media, business, and government capitals around the world. My role as head of social media is to provide strategic counsel and best practice for social media across our clients in Africa, adapting our digital ecosystem for different countries, cultures, and languages enabling our clients to engage across earned, owned and paid channels.

BizcommunityHow did you get into the PR industry?

Good networking! I started as a copywriter over a decade ago and have always worked in a more ATL/Digital Agency space, so PR was quite new to me. However, my connection to FCB Africa, part of the Nahana Group, resulted in Weber Shandwick reaching out to me when they were ready to build a digital department.
It happened at the perfect time in my life, and I’ve since fallen in love with the industry.
BizcommunityWhat sparked your interest in getting into PR?

Two things I love - working in Africa and using digital platforms to tell stories. Africa is the world’s fastest-growing mobile region and this explosion of mobile technology across the continent, means that digital has quickly become an integral part of every communications campaign.

BizcommunityCould you share a bit about your educational background?

It’s a bit of a mixed bag – I went from studying English and Drama to Strategic Marketing and Communications.

BizcommunityWhat sparked your interest in getting into social media?

I believe that storytelling is storytelling - I just do it in 280 characters.

BizcommunityWhat is the one project you have worked on that you are incredibly proud of?

I am exceptionally proud of the work I get to do with the NS Impact Foundation
They’ve created a platform where people can donate their time, energy, and resources to solve some of the most pertinent challenges facing vulnerable people in our country.

Social Media is a key platform for non-profits to maintain a connection with their target audience, raise awareness, funding & ultimately make an impact. I’ve been able to work with NS Impact to launch a number of big campaigns that were driven by social media:
  • #AddSumImpact: a local donation drive to raise money for calculators for underprivileged Matrics. 2000 calculators were manufactured and delivered in Durban & Gauteng in the past few months to equip learners with the tools they need to succeed.

  • #WorldHomelessDay: There are over 3,000 people who enter our city each month to find a place to live and work. Despite the efforts of several shelters and non-profits that serve the homeless, it’s difficult to meet the needs of the population. NS Impact, a foundation dedicated to bringing dignity to those who need it most worked to provide dignity #onebagatatime! They created a unique backpack and raised funds to fill up these bags with crucial items. They were able to fill up and donate 200 bags for World Homeless Day and raised enough money to create and fill up 300 more.

  • #GoodFriday: We went on a mission to Durban to feed over 1000 people in partnership with Tastic and our top influencers.

BizcommunityWhat are the victories that you’ve had since starting out?

I think my most recent achievement of serving as a judge for the D&AD Awards in the PR Category. It gave me access to brilliant creative minds across the world, and it was such a brilliant learning experience unpacking key learnings and insights on top creative work in our industry.

BizcommunityWhat advice would you give to anyone entering the world of PR and more specifically social media?

Be ready to learn and apply yourself. The digital landscape is constantly evolving and in a field that deals with change among other things, it is crucial to be in the know of current developments.
Always be on the lookout for trends and how these inform the direction the world is taking.
Aim to serve as a catalyst for change, everything else will fall into place. And if you fail, do it quickly and adapt.

BizcommunityIf you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t take anything personally!

BizcommunityWhere do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I live by the quote: “Write your purpose in pen and your path in pencil”.

I am constantly learning and unlearning things, processes, practices; becoming better with time.
For me, it’s not about the timeline, but what can be done now to affect the future. The most important thing to me is having a positive impact on the world.
There are so many causes that are close to my heart, so I know my time will ultimately be committed to that, along with building brands and people.

BizcommunityAs we celebrate Youth Month, do you have any words of encouragement for the youth?

The time is now. There are so many opportunities for the youth despite the pandemic. Everything has gone digital, and the most important thing to realise is that the handheld devices we all have are some of the most powerful tools to unlock any dream. Be fearless and relentless!

For more #YouthMatters content and interviews, visit:

Let's do Biz