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#StartupStory Interview South Africa

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#StartupStory: The Client Media

Shorn Khumalo is a creative guru who has worked with some of the biggest brands in the country. He is the brains behind The Client Media, a strategic brand development boutique specialising in PR & Marketing and is changing the narrative on Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
Shorn Khumalo, founder of The Client Media
Shorn Khumalo, founder of The Client Media

We find out from the CPUT graduate, who is one of the growing numbers of publicists who are promoting "Kasi" based businesses.

Can you tell us about The Client Media?

The Client Media is a full-service strategic brand development agency in the business of amplifying brand stories. We specialise in PR & marketing, concept development, content curation, event marketing and we have a TV production unit.

When, how and why did you get started?

I love telling this story - projects chose me. They found me in the role of PR & events coordinator for a private education institution. Bored and wondering what’s next, I received a phone call looking for someone who could take the Free State Fashion Fashion Week (FSFW) to the next level. Long story short, in our short engagement with the team at FSFW, I received a flight ticket, accommodation and a car rental within the same week. I had such a wonderful time that weekend that I knew it was time to leave my job. I haven’t looked back since.

What is the core function of The Client Media?

We’re in the business of amplifying brand stories. Our responsibility is to communicate and carry out the brand message to consumers.

What services do you provide?

We provide the following: Brand development and brand management; Content planning and writing; Events marketing; Media Relations Management; Influencer Marketing and promotions; Social Media Management; Crisis Management and TV Production.

Could you name some of your clients?

Some of our clients include: The Spade Boutique Hotel & Spa - the first 4 star boutique hotel in a township in South Africa; The Milk Restaurant & Champagne Bar in Khayelitsha; Taste the Culture Lifestyle Festival; Hectic 99 on SABC 2; Hectic on 3 on SABC 3; Free State Fashion Week and Clinimed.

What are some of the obstacles you've had to face since you started?

In the beginning, we struggled with invoicing and receiving payments on time. It would be so dreadful having to collect payments from clients you’re trying to maintain a relationship with. We also struggled with clients expecting over the top executions with a limited budget.

Generally, you will struggle to get through to media houses when you’re new and unknown unless you have really great content and you have done your research. This is one aspect I quickly grasped.

Uh! Covid-19 has really hit us hard. It feels like we had moved five steps ahead and 10 steps back. We lost a number of clients. Our client list consists of small-medium businesses so you can almost imagine the knock effect Covid-19 has had on us. We are slowly recovering and I am happy to have received calls from our clients initiating a continuation.

Have you received any funding to get The Client Media up and running? If so, what was the process like?

No, the business is self-funded. When I started I wanted to gradually grow. I’m moving at my own pace and I’m committed to learning in the process. It’s less pressure to the added pressure of running a business and I’m glad I chose this path.

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Start somewhere and start with where you are. You don’t have to follow others' paths. Find your rhythm, find what works for you.

Build a great support structure around you and take it one day at a time.
Remember, your key responsibility is to offer your clients solutions and great service, so continue to work on this and make it the core of the business.

Where would you like to see The Client Media in the next five years?

Expanding and offering services to big corporate companies. I believe we’re capable and our work speaks for itself. For a small PR & Marketing agency, there’s nothing small about what we can do.

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