It’s been, as they say, a year. Everyone is worn out, but 2021 has brought Flow Communications some pretty cool highlights.
We have been able to use our collective talents to make the digital world a brighter place for many, and we have been able to work with some wonderful clients on several fascinating and life-affirming projects.
We’ve also welcomed a number of new colleagues to the Flow family, and it is telling that many of them have chosen joining Flow as their highlight of the year. Having so many new colleagues is a privilege in these times. This was summed up by our head of content, Edwina van der Burg, who said: “My 2021 highlight was being in a position where we are able to grow the team and make a meaningful difference.”
Flow director Tiffany Turkington-Palmer, a little incredulous after watching the Flow list of 2021 highlights grow on our company-wide Google Chat, said: “Look at this list of clients, we are so lucky – international foundations like Rockerfeller, Ford, AIG-Imoukhuede, the European Union [EU], GIZ [the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, or the German Development Cooperation].”
She could have gone on to list the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive, the Presidency of South Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation, Hollard, Standard Bank and many, many more.
Making positive, real-world impact
Counting the comments, November’s two-day online Climate 360 conference – hosted by the EU Delegation to South Africa to drive awareness of the climate change emergency; celebrate sustainable, climate-smart organisations and initiatives; and inspire urgent climate action – was a 2021 highlight for many Flowstars. We had a big team involved, from our new events team through to website development and content.
Richard Frank, who was this year promoted to become Flow’s chief technology officer, summed it up when he listed, on the Chat, his 2021 highlights as “starting a new events team and working with top-notch professionals who just get things done with minimum fuss. Climate 360 is also pretty high up there, conceptualising and then executing the concept was very rewarding”.
Senior writer and editor Sue Blaine said, “The Climate 360 event wins by a country mile. It was inspirational and solutions-focused, and I was really proud to be involved. It was hectic, though. I felt like I had been run over by a herd of buffalo.”
Head of public relations Caroline Smith chimed in succinctly, just saying “Climate 360” and head of training Thrishni Subramoney said, “Climate 360 for me, too. But doing our first in-person media training in more than two years was a close second – it was an event for the EU.”
Perhaps our work with the EU on Climate 360, like so much of the other work that we get to do, is best summed up by our social media strategist Kerry Robertson, who gave her highlight as: “Doing work with positive, real-world impact is always a highlight. Collaborating with clients who want to make the world a better place just feels right.”
Five PRISM Awards
While we do not work to win awards, it is always wonderful when our efforts are rewarded, and that is what happened this year when we were lucky enough to win five PRISM Awards. These are the most prestigious and sought-after public relations and communications awards in South Africa.
These wins were a 2021 highlight for account director Allison MacDonald, who attended the awards ceremony in person with her fellow account director Chuma Siswana. This is how Ally put it when she listed the pinnacle of her 2021 in our Google Chat: “Going to the PRISMs with Chuma and collecting all those shiny trophies, and spending one-on-one time eating scrambled eggs with Chuma at the PRISMs.”
A futuristic world
One of the longer-running campaigns that Flow has been involved in this year had us helping the big to help the small. Insurance giant Hollard launched its Hollard Big Ads for Small Business campaign, sharing its “big” advertising spaces with 12 selected small enterprises over six months.
To help Hollard launch the campaign, we created a futuristic virtual exhibition world that was tailor-made and client-branded. Participants, through their avatars, could move around a main stage area and exhibition rooms, listen to keynote speeches, and approach small-business owners at their branded booths for chats.
The campaign involved above- and below-the-line advertising, and was a highlight for designer Lerato Thoabala and account director Daya Coetzee. PR account manager Khaya Thwala said she was taken by “the amazing impact it has had on the small businesses”.
Wait, there’s more!
For the second year running, Flow worked with the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation to present an online-only Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture. This year’s event included the celebration of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 90th birthday, and designer Cara Wares listed this auspicious event as the culmination of her efforts this year.
She also pointed to the beautiful new website Flow created for CapeNature. This involved ensuring that design, development and content creation converged to create a natural, colourful, professional website with strong visuals and easy-to-use navigation that grows revenue and systematically packages CapeNature’s knowledge on biodiversity and conservation.
Meanwhile, Flow’s head of design, Elmarie Harrington, said 2021 has been “a year of amazing brands for me – loved working on all the brand CIs [corporate identities]”.
Back again for more, Ally said welcoming the Gauteng Tourism Authority back to the Flow fold was another pinnacle for her, as was the success of the campaign to advertise the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Exhibition. The centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, is the largest science centre in Southern Africa and is affiliated to the Gauteng Department of Education to support maths, science and technology education and South Africa’s science, engineering and technology capacity.
And then, the people
Flow marketing head Nadia Moore wrote that she saw “working with such an amazing team and the awesome treats we get” as the best part of her 2021 working year. She also thanked Flow project manager Maria Lavagna for organising the lovely care packages Flow’s staff have received for events such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween and our year-end party.
She was not alone. Caroline Smith, head of public relations, listed “every single time I get a package” as a highlight. Daya came back to say that other high points for her were “promoting Flow through PR and celebrating Flowstars and our work on diverse media platforms”. She also noted “working on meaningful businesses and campaigns with nice people, including PREO [Powering Renewable Energy Possibilities], which balances socio-economic upliftment with combating climate change through the productive use of energy”.
Not stopping there, Daya also spoke of backing up “Gibela’s push for economic and skills development and revitalising the rail transport sector” and “Verigreen for contributing to the circular plastics economy”.
It’s always difficult joining a company, and this has been made more difficult in this time of work from home, so it is heartwarming that so many of our new Flowstars so enthusiastically listed joining the company as the highlight of their year. Here they are, in their own words:
“Joining the team and working with welcoming and helpful people.” – Lindiwe Masinga, social media content producer
“Joining the team and working alongside talented peeps.” – Lesego Khutsoane, project manager
“Joining the team!” – Lizette Sutherland, senior UX/UI designer
“Joining the Flow family and learning so much in a short space of time.” – Kim Rajcoomar, head of events
“I second what Kim said :)” – Thelma Ngoma-Mavhunga, content producer
“Starting at Flow and the opportunity to learn new technologies.” – Anton Boshoff, developer
The worst of times, the best of times
Yes, 2021 brought us more Covid-19 restrictions, and turned out to be a real end-of-the-year party pooper but, for Flow, this has in very many ways been a really good year.