It’s pretty cool to become part of a new cohort of “sharp-witted young leaders in the PR and communication industry”. This was the calibre of person sought by the organisers of the 2019 PRISM Young Judges (PYJ) initiative – and they found a perfect match in Flow’s Ayanda Siswana!
Encouraged to respond to the PYJ call by Flow CEO Tara Turkington and head of PR Caroline Smith, three Flowstars submitted their motivations, with Ayanda’s video entry securing her a place as one of the final group of 10 and making her Flow colleagues inspired and proud.
Launched two years ago, PYJ is the mentorship and skills development element of the annual PRISM Awards, run in partnership with the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.
The first inkling that Ayanda’s entry had been successful was a mysterious WhatsApp message that read: “Shhhhhh. Can you keep a secret?”, which could easily have been dismissed since it came from an unknown source.
Says Ayanda: “I was checking Google Maps to plot the quickest route to work when the message came through. When I realised who it was from and saw that I had been chosen to be a judge, I yelled with excitement. Just me, all alone in my car, screaming like a crazy person. My emotions were running all over the place, but I told myself I could deal with it later at the office, put my phone down and turned down my music so I could focus on my driving.”
The news was confirmed by email later that morning. In their feedback, the organisers said “out of a pool of many who applied for this role”, Ayanda’s entry was chosen “because it had THAT THING we are looking for … not only for the judging process, but for the future of PYJs”. What probably also contributed was her choice of medium for her entry – the only video entry. She readily acknowledges valuable input from a number of colleagues “who helped to refine and put the video together, and rooted for me”.
As a member of the group of 10 young judges to be mentored this year, Ayanda will gain industry insight from senior industry professionals through the judging process, and will benefit from peer-to-peer training.
She says she is looking forward to the journey as a new experience, learning opportunity, and a chance to enrich herself with insights and industry knowledge.
“When I started in PR, it was with one of the largest agencies in South Africa. They were big on awards, so I would see campaigns put together and would be invited to the PRISMs. Being at the awards was a mind-blowing experience for me and I remember thinking that it must be incredibly difficult to judge so many entries of such a high standard,” says Ayanda.
“It’s now five years later and I’m going to be one of those people sitting on the judging panel.
“This nomination is truly a career milestone for me. I’m really looking forward to sitting at the table with industry leaders and top PR communicators to see what criteria they look for when judging entries.”
PYJ founder and PRISMs convenor Palesa Madumo says PYJ will afford the 10 candidates an opportunity “to engage closely with industry leaders and to also share their perspective on campaigns that are often youth-focused”.
The PRISMs are dedicated to outstanding achievements in the field of public relations and communications management in Southern Africa. Flow received a gold award at the 2018 PRISMs.