1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
A. Positive Dialogue is a full-service, digitally-led PR and strategic communications agency that creates brand storytelling for clients that enables them to authentically engage with their target audiences across a number of communications channels. We have four specialist teams that work across various industry sectors, with a central content creation hub that’s able to produce and provide video, podcasts, design, writing – any communication touchpoint that’s able to engage with audiences.
Our influencer relations team provide hands-on insights, research, and campaigns that engage authentically with micro and macro-influencers across South Africa, for a wide range of our clients across travel, beauty, wine, and fashion.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
A. I started Positive Dialogue 15 years ago when my first child was born. I was working as Business Development Director at one of the largest PR agencies in Cape Town and burning the midnight oil on a weekly basis. I realised that it wasn’t sustainable with having a baby, and decided to start my own consultancy to be able to better manage my time. My two children are now teenagers and my ‘small consultancy’ is now a mid-sized agency of 15 people within a Group of 100 people. The time has flown past.
3. What is your role in the business?
A. My role is Managing Director with direct oversight on new business, Duke Group integration, and constant agency innovation.
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
A. I studied (of all things) Food Service Management for 4 years at the Durban University of Technology. PR was my second choice application, but due to the high number of applications, they only accepted first-choice applicants. Throughout my 4 years of study my lecturers always joked that I should have studied PR, and look at where I am now! It’s so strange how the universe works and places you right where you’re meant to be.
5. How did you finance your business?
A. I didn’t finance my business. It’s all been self-funded by winning clients, growing the team, taking on more clients, and putting all profits back into the business in order for the cycle to repeat itself. We’ve needed to bootstrap from start to finish, with every team player playing an integral role in order to move the business forward.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
A. An average working day is non-stop action with no two days ever being the same. A lot of my time is spent in client and team meetings; planning, discussing, brainstorming campaigns and opportunities. I try to focus on working on the business, as opposed to in the business. So am blessed to have a senior team of experienced PR professionals who can bring ideas to life and execute them for the benefit of clients and within our agency.
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
A. In my opinion balance is a myth that we beat ourselves up over through constantly chasing, and often falling short. To try and achieve my version of ‘balance; I keep it simple by focusing on only 3 daily things: Exercise, work, and family. I stick to a very structured daily routine and I focus 100% of my energy and focus throughout the day to ensure I can feel the benefit of giving my best to those 3 things. Rules that I’ve come to live by are no social media after 19h00 when I’m home with my family, no phones at the dinner table, and no checking mail just before bed.
8. What drives you and inspires you?
A. I’m driven by producing work and campaigns that are purposeful. Work that has the potential to inspire, empower, or educate people to be able to live better lives, and versions of themselves, they didn’t realise was possible.
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
A. I plan and prioritise my day, and have my best ideas when I’m on riding my stationary bike for an ho0ur at 05h00 every morning with high-energy music blasting in my ears. It’s amazing what randomly pops into my head sometimes. I’ve learnt to keep a notebook next to me to jot things down before they disappear.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
A. The best form of marketing my busines is clients who’ve worked with us, recommending us. Our business has been built on nothing but client referral and brand awareness in the PR, Media & Marketing industry through the winning of various awards.
11. What is next for your business?
A. Next for the business is the incorporation of big data integration into our client campaigns that helps identify industry and audience insights. We’re also using AI platforms to keep us informed about real time content and conversations that are taking place nationally and internationally that enable us to do news-jacking on industry commentary on behalf of our clients.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
A. Starting a business is like building an aeroplane in the sky. You just need to believe 100% in yourself and start. Just start. You’re never going to have all the answers or necessarily all the ideal support structures in place. But if you have conviction in your idea or skills, mixed in with a sense of humour and tons of resilience – you’ll always find a way to make it work.
Tracy Jones is the founder and MD of Positive Dialogue, the full-service Public Relations and Influencer Marketing Agency in the DUKE Group of companies. Tracy, who is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organisation and the Businesswoman Association of South Africa, was selected to be a judge at the esteemed Loeries in 2020.
A problem-solver at heart and a creative strategist by nature, Tracy has worked on numerous local and international blue-chip brands on Positive Dialogue’s multiple award-winning journey from a pure-play PR agency into a digitally relevant, 360-degree communications company. Tracy champions the power of PR and authentic content and storytelling as an intrinsic cog in a business’s marketing strategy.
Ph: 021 461 5108