1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
A. Scout PR & Social Media is an award-winning integrated communications agency. Scout provides a cross-platform service spanning social, digital media and innovative marketing management. The business services a stable of local and international clients. The underlying premise of the company’s approach is to offer an integrated solution that maps the persistently shifting trends within the world of business and the media landscape.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
A. I started the business in 2013. I was working in corporate, heading Media and Social Media but based in Cape Town. The company I was working for had its head office in Gauteng and they asked me to move up there 4 x! It was very hard, especially as my husband’s parents had just moved to Cape Town from Durban to be closer to their kids and grandkids. I needed to make a decision and took the plunge!
3. What is your role in the business?
A. I am the Director and my role is largely strategic, but I can’t stay away from some production! I like to be hands-on!
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
A. I did my Post-Graduate degree at UCT – English Honours.
5. How did you finance your business?
A. When I left corporate, I used my pension payout to start my business. This was essential as it took a while to register my business and I could not invoice anyone until this paperwork was complete – it was a vendor requirement of my client at that time that the business be a bona fide registered entity.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
A. When I work such a day, I will let you know! Instead, we have a good structure that allows for the things that do come up unexpectedly when you work in communications, such an client crises, social media memes, tactical campaigns… every day has a new challenge!
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
A. I must admit to not getting this right at all. There is always more time I could spend with my husband and son and there is always something I could improve on at work. There’s never enough time!
8. What drives you and inspires you?
A. The desire for improvement. The idea that we can move forward, learn new things, be more relevant…
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
A. Other people inspire me and I tend to get very excited when they tell me their stories, and this always sparks something, a response.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
A. I have been very fortunate to get a lot of referral business, and also a lot of repeat business – most of our clients are longterm… We update our social media regularly, and, if we win an exciting new account, we will send out a press release.
11. What is next for your business?
A. We are improving our internal processes to accommodate all the new-form communications we have been doing since lockdown, like virtual launches, webinars, podcasts and such. We launched our own video podcast and we’ll continue with that. We are exploring the new Instgram Reels as a client opportunity.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
A. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Your belief in yourself is what will carry you through all the doubt. Those first few years are really challenging – I never worked so hard in my life. So get stuck in. Surround yourself with GOOD/TALENTED/EXPERIENCED people (no sympathy hires) and make sure you have a really good accountant/financial advisor to help you structure your business in the best way possible, as there are too few tax breaks and incentives for start-ups. And then keep going!
Lauren Shantall is the owner/founder of marketing communications company, Scout PR & Social Media. The agency won Best PR & Social Media Agency – South Africa at the 2020 Media Innovator Awards; a Distinction in Social Media at the AAXO Roar Awards early in 2020; the Best Social Media Award at the AAXO Roar Awards early in 2018; and the award for Emerging Entrepreneur 2016 at the BWA Regional Awards.
Previously, Lauren was the Communications and Social Media Manager for Plascon South Africa. She managed the Freeworld Design Centre and was formerly the Deputy Editor of Elle Decoration, Editor of Design Indaba Magazine and Manager of the Design Indaba Expo, Lauren is the recipient of a number of awards, including a Communication Arts Award (USA), and a Mondi Award (SA). She is a Director of the NPO Brave/ Rock Girl which provides young women and girls with leadership skills.
Social media links:
LinkedIn – LaurenShantall (personal) https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenshantall/