Lorinda Voges is the founder and COO of 4Elements Media, a leading national PR and events company in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2016 4EM joined forces with the Kristan Investment Group adding 20 years of media connections from the Kristan Group of media companies to its arsenal. With a client list that includes Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Clarins, Mugler, Convoy and South African celebrities such as Khuli Chana, Jimmy Nevis, Shashi Naidoo, Francois Hougaard, Boity Thulo, we couldn’t resist the chance to learn more about how 4em helps international brands reach a South African audience.
Title: Founder and CCO
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Agency: 4Elements Media
How did you get started in the industry?
My career in this industry started in 2001. I started working as the marketing and brand manager for Café Vacca Matta in Cape Town. Soon after I joined Fashion TV South Africa as their national brand manager. I worked alongside Michal Adam, the CEO of FTV International to take the brand to new heights in Africa; we opened 11 branches in 2 years. I always had some sort of profession where I made people aware of brands, however, I started to fully focus on corporate and personal brand awareness in 2012.
What was the catalyst for starting 4Em?
In 2011 I hit a crossroad in my career at FTV and decided to list what I was passionate about in my industry. I narrowed it down to 4 different aspects, which led me to start and name my own company 4Elements Media. At that point, the elements were brand awareness, events, celebrities, and media. These days our core focus is mainly brand awareness for lifestyle, fashion, beauty and personal brands in South Africa, as well as event management.
Tell us a bit about how 4Em is structured:
Our agency consists out of myself, Founder & CCO, a CEO, Executive Strategist & Project manager, 2 PR Account Executives, a C.I.B (Celebrity, Influencer & Blogger) Account Executive and 2 interns, as well as a financial manager.
What are your responsibilities in your current role?
My role is to oversee the overall look and feel of our PR offerings, marketing, media, and branding associated with 4EM.
What is the mood like in the office? What are you working on?
We have a very driven yet casual approach. Our motto is to get things done quickly with passion and determination. Currently, we are working on the summer campaign for Vichy in South Africa, a store opening event for Diesel, and media outreach for on exciting brands such as Wan’Go, Mokai, Vichy, Skinceuticals, La Roche-Posay.
What is a success story that makes you especially proud?
Audi South Africa hosted an exclusive Driving Experience Event at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in July. The event was hosted by radio veteran Tbo Touch and Audi South Africa. A number of celebrities and influencers such as Somazi, Tshepi Vundla, LeAnne Dlamini, Lunga Shabalala, Naomi Noinyane, Tembi Seethe, Gareth Pon and Seth Sezi had the opportunity to experience the all-new Audi R8 around the legendary and newly refurbished Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.
The day started off with an enlightening session on the theory of vehicle dynamics and then guests perfected the art of driving by practicing high-speed driving techniques, emergency situation simulations and demonstrations of the latest vehicle technologies of the new R8.
What’s the most memorable moment in your career thus far?
I have had so many highlights in the past 6 years, but one that will always stand out the most is when I worked alongside Tommy Hilfiger International with an exclusive in-story event celebrating a new store opening in Johannesburg, South Africa.
We provided Tommy Hilfiger with event management and PR services, including guest list management too. The experience sparked a whole new love for event management and offering PR for international brands, especially fashion & beauty brands.
Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?
I felt the most glamorous when I wore a custom made Merwe Mode Couture dress at the Mugler Alien event earlier this year. The dress was perfectly created to fit my body and worked well with the “Feel Extraordinaire” theme of the night.
Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?
I think the least glamorous moments are just before a major event, when you run around, setting up red carpets, bars, banners to ensure your event looks spectacular before guests arrive. So many people never get to see the behind the scenes before they enter an event.
What’s the media landscape like in South Africa? What are the top fashion/lifestyle publications, websites, influencers to know?
The media landscape in SA is by far not as big as in Europe and the States.
We have many similar international titles in SA too like GQ, Elle, Marie Claire, Glamour, Grazia, etc.
PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?
PR and this industry taught me valuable lessons; to be thick skinned. I guess the most valuable lesson of all is to look at every failure as a lesson and an opportunity to better yourself and your services. I had to truly offer something unique and did so by staying true to myself; 4EM reflects my own personal values.
What are three must-haves essential to your job?
What’s App Web and iMessage for making life easy while I sit in front of my laptop. My iPhone for giving me daily access to everything on the go and Bookings.com for allowing me to book the best holidays.
I think the least glamorous moments are just before a major event, when you run around, setting up red carpets, bars, banners to ensure your event looks spectacular before guests arrive.
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
PR is not advertising. PR is also not marketing. Working with celebrities is not always that glamorous and the entertainment industry can be soulless.
What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion/lifestyle communicators right now?
The biggest challenge for anyone in the fashion, lifestyle industry is to stand out above the noise. People have become brands, which makes it difficult for brands itself to stand out. In order to be different, you have to be unique, creative and follow trends. Brands and individuals must be leaders while staying humble.
PR is not advertising. PR is also not marketing.
How do you stay on top of industry trends?
I am excited to see how many young millennials are becoming entrepreneurs. I have been exposed to so many creative beings the past 3 years; South Africans are making names for themselves internationally. I try to stay on top of things by not only knowing what is happening locally but internationally.
What type of person thrives at your agency?
We look for someone that is willing to work hard, take the reign, be creative and be a leader and innovator.
What would you tell someone who wants to be like you when they grow up?
Ask questions, never be afraid to fail. Say no. Stand your ground. Stay true to yourself. Remember the people that helped you when you started out at the bottom.
Any last words of advice?
Travel, as often as you can. It is an education money can never buy.