On Friday, the 15th of May 2020, the country witnessed the inaugural virtual PRISM Awards. The 23rd annual PRISM Awards which are coordinated by the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) were graced by what young people term the “social media streets”. The ceremony was held through various social media platforms, namely, YouTube and Twitter. This was done in accordance with Government’s Covid-19 Disaster Management rules and regulations and the ban on the usual eventing activities. 

And the campaign of the year award goes to…

On the day, the South African Campaign of The Year was awarded to 100% black female-owned full-service TTL agency, The Riverbed Agency for their Underage Drinking campaign, amongst other 12 awards that they scooped that afternoon.

The PRISMs are Africa’s most sought after public relations and communication awards and are judged by over 67 judges alongside 10 dynamic young judges, as part of the PRISM Young Voices initiative.

Palesa Madumo who is the Founder of the three-year-old PRISM Young Voices initiative, this year’s PRISM Awards Convenor, and the joint CEO of Vuma Reputation Management shares with us her perspective on the virtual version of the highly spoken of PRISM Awards, “I think virtual experiences have simply catapulted their way into human interaction as a result of COVID-19, however, the fact is that they were always on the cards, so it is exciting that we’ve pivoted in this way.” 

The purpose of the initiative is to have the young voices mentored by some of the best in the communication and PR industry. She goes on to say, “The bigger purpose behind establishing PYVs (PRISM Young Voices) was and will always be to provide opportunities to people who do not have industry doors open for them to walk through, to connect people who would not normally be connected and to carve the kinds of careers that will sustain the communication industry into the future.”

More on the PRISM Young Voices initiative.

Monare Matema is the 2020 PRISM Young Voices Chairperson and a Senior Associate Architect at Marketing & Brand Consultancy, DNA Brand Architects. In my interview with Matema, he shared his thoughts about the kind of opportunities the PRISM Awards afford to young individuals, “When PRISMs Co-Convener(at the time) Palesa Madumo founded this initiative she recognised that there was a lack of youth representation at key industry platforms and worked to redress this by giving young communication enthusiasts a platform for mentorship, training & access to key industry platforms like PRISM Awards. The vision has since expanded because we have realised that PRISM Young Voices has the potential to be so much more”.

A movement for young communications enthusiasts

“We are building a movement where young communication enthusiasts in schools, at agencies and in organisations can have a seat a table where their voices can be amplified. We have selected a group of 10 incredible PYVs who are raising their voices in their respective fields. We are starting small, but punching above our weight and there is a lot to look forward to from us in the coming weeks and months”, he adds.

The PRISMs are awarded to individuals, students, consultancies, companies, government organisations, and NGOs. 78 PRISM Awards were won across 36 categories including 1 Overall Winner, 16 Golds, 25 Silvers, 24 Bronzes, 7 Special Mentions, and 5 Individuals.

New awards were introduced to accommodate deserving individuals and agencies.  This included this year’s PRISMs Young Voice of the Year Award which was presented to Simbongile Ndlangisa, a 2018 PRISM Young Voice.  

Join the PRISM Young Voices.

Ayanda Siswana is one of the young voices who are disrupting the industry and together with her team makes sure that they are heard. “As a PR professional, one gets to shift perceptions, challenge the status quo, and change culture one campaign at a time. With the constantly changing media landscape, PR professionals are not only expected to change with the times but also have the ability to forecast the future and develop the trends that will come.”, Siswana said. She is presently the Deputy Chairperson of the 2020 PRISM Young Voices, an Account Manager at Flow Communications, and was part of the 2019 PRISM Young Voices group.

She urges young people to strive to make a difference in the industry and have their voices heard, be motivated to create award-winning campaigns, and also continue to follow the PRISM Awards to understand in depth what makes a campaign stand out. In closing Siswana says “Our voices are our strength, weapon and power especially us as young people in the communication industry.”

The PRISM Awards judges together with the PRISM Young Voices are industry disruptors.

Normal eventing vs Covid-19 eventing. The PRISM Awards pivoted.

“When we thought about having a virtual version of the award it seemed a bit far-fetched, but seeing them come to life was a magical experience, and although we still had so many restrictions because of lockdown, we put together something we think the industry can be proud of. An interactive experience that spilled over onto social media and has actually become the most interactive PRISM awards in a very long time — more people witnessed consultancies winning awards in 2020 than ever before, and that is the power of social media!” – Palesa Madumo.  

If you are successfully fusing strategy with creativity and professionalism to achieve the best communications and business objectives for your clients public relations campaign, you can surely look forward to enter your campaign for the 24th annual PRISM Awards in 2021.

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Oarabile Bontle Tlhabane

Oarabile Tlhabane is a Public Relations Specialist, Digital Content Curator, Visual Artist and is a 2020 PRISM Awards Young Voice - an initiative by the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) and the PRISM Awards.

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