For seasoned PR expert, Tidimalo Shabalala, starting her own PR consultancy after relocating to Hong Kong was a natural progression. SAAHK chats to Tidimalo about the inspiration behind her latest Hong Kong-based venture, Tidi Consulting, and how she set out to create a space for herself and South African products in the market.
Where in South Africa were you born?
I was born in South Africa, Soweto. I spent most of my childhood between Soweto and Katlehong.
What brought you to Hong Kong and how long have you lived here?
I moved to Hong Kong in 2018 with my family for a job opportunity that my husband had received. We have been here for a little over three years and quite enjoy it.
What did you do before coming to Hong Kong?
I used to work in the public relations industry and have over 12 years of experience in the field. Most of the work I have done is for global public relations agencies that have offices in South Africa. I used to manage and launch campaigns for clients not just in South Africa, but in other parts of Africa.
How did you go about furthering your public relations career and finding a gap in the Hong Kong market?
My journey here has been quite a personal adventure that encapsulates so many aspects of moving abroad. I found myself in so many situations and discussions with people who have a similar story as I did. Some women who move abroad with their families must let go of their careers and must start afresh; to not only stabilize their families but create some sort of opportunities for themselves. Whether it be doing something different from what they used to do or finding a way back into their industries. It is a challenging journey as it requires a lot of research, networking, and collaborating with others to finally start creating some sort of space for yourself.
After two years of being here, I started noticing start-ups and influencers who had the potential to compete in their respective market, and yet did not have broad and in-depth access to an integrated communications approach to building their brands. Most of them rely on marketing, which is great, but at the same time, planning for your messaging and working on a goal to enhance your brand is key. Sustaining some sort of reputation around your brand is part of creating a ‘top-of-mind’ brand for your potential customers. My services include media training, media relations, creative activations/events, personal profiling, collaborations, and social media enhancement. It is a personal step-by-step approach to enhancing brands with an integrated public relations execution plan.
You recently contributed a chapter to the book #MyVoice Vol. 5 – Inspiring Stories of Hope, Courage & Fearlessness. Tell us more about this project.
I am humbled to have been considered for this amazing book that allowed me to capture my personal story. The aim is just to share a little about my life to encourage others to take the leap of faith. The book is a collective memoir about women from all over the world, who share their subjective experiences in their respective lives. The goal is to teach, share and inspire others. #MyVoice has officially captured one hundred chapters that tell stories of people from all walks of life. The book is being published by the Global Influencers Publishing House which is based in Singapore. It will soon be available on Amazon.
Do you think there is room for marketing South African and/or African brands in Hong Kong?
Most definitely! Our unique offering and brands have a good chance to enter the market. I think after spending some time here, I have realized how unique we are in terms of our brands. I have started to create space for African brands with my expertise and am confident that this will create more opportunities for others to come.
South Africa’s strength lies in our culture, fashion, and wines. It is quite evident that there is a global social innovation movement that has created access to exchanging ideas and teaching each other. This is information that I feel will create a more unified collaboration for potential opportunities and exchange of understanding. This will be an unparalleled benefit towards ongoing efforts to create positive relations, as well as a platform that will support better working relationships. I do however offer my support to all kinds of brands that are trying to land their messaging, and am not subjective to South Africans. I aim to collaborate with other local brands and really look toward supporting anyone who would benefit from a brand enhancement.
What is your favourite thing about Hong Kong?
I like the easy transport system that can take you anywhere in an exceptionally smooth and subtle way. I am also loving just experiencing Hong Kong with my family and creating memories. The almost picture-perfect views and mountains surrounding the ocean are also incredible. Having a braai at the beach is also such a treat.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
To be honest, the food! I miss Chicken Licken and Debonairs Pizza! I miss our music and celebrating national days. We have an incredible country and one thing I daydream about is visiting the Kruger National Park. For me, it is one of the best holiday destinations. I also miss family, friends and just our vibe that is like no other.
What is your favourite place in South Africa?
My mother’s house! There is no place like home. I also love traveling to Mpumalanga, the amazing Durban weather, and visiting my hometowns (Soweto and Katlehong).
Do you have a favourite South African expression or saying?
Yes, I do, they are “Sho! And then?!”
Who could benefit from services offered by Tidi Consulting and how can they get in touch?
I target small and medium-sized businesses, start-ups, and influencers who are looking to socialize their brands and offerings. My aim is to support and assist them with public relations, event activations, and social media support. I specialize in creating tailor-made communications strategies which I then roll out with the support of marketing. If you have a product and feel a little stuck, or you are trying to figure out how to get it out there in the market, Tidi Consulting can support you with a brand enhancement solution looking at your SWOT analysis. This is to make sure that you have a chance to create conversations around your brand. My services include blogs and press release writing and distribution, creating social media plans, media interviews lobbying, media training, collaborations with events, and brand support. Personal profiling is also part of my services.