Meet our first media entrepreneur of 2020. Zinokwanda Media and Communications specialises in business media and corporate communications, film and TV content production, as well as boutique events.
The company recently landed mining giant Harmony Gold as a client, “a testament of our growth and bold ambition to become a formidable force in the industry”.
Founded in 2011 by the well known and experienced television and radio broadcaster, producer, MC and facilitator, Khanyi Magubane, the company has served top blue chip companies across the financial, food and beverages, renewable energy and social entrepreneurship sectors. Magubane has also consulted for clients in the political and royal traditional leadership space, while producing TV content for channels such as M-Net’s Mzansi Magic.
Magubane earned a BA (Communication) and BA (Hons) Journalism both from RAU (now the University of Johannesburg) before launching her career on 702 and YFM, where she was the drive time news anchor morning and afternoon. She then moved to the SABC’s SAfm, working as a producer and broadcaster for 13 years, and presenting it flagship religious show, Living Sounds, for 12 years.
Right up until March 2019, she remained on air, while also building her own business. As she says, her motto is, “Work until the work is done. And then do it all over again.”
Here, Magubane shares her business journey and her plans for her business in 2020.
Q: Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
I had been in the media industry for about 15 years when I decided to start my own company. Mind you, it was not the first company I registered, the first company was in existence for a few months, I managed some artists, did some publicity for them, while I was still working full time. However I don’t think I was ready for entrepreneurship at that stage. The company was eventually deregistered by CIPC for inactivity.
In 2011, I registered a new company Zinokwanda Media and Communications, but it was only four years later that I made the jump into entrepreneurship full time. It was a natural progression for me, as I knew I was always destined to build a media empire and I knew that it would never happen while I was working for someone else. I also recognised the value of good work opportunities in adding to my skills set within the media industry and I must say I worked in some really awesome organisations and learnt a lot too.
Q: Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
Zinokwanda Media and Communications an agency that currently has three divisions – a media consultancy where we work with corporates to craft communication/media strategies, do we media training for executives, we handle crisis communications and write speeches for executives too.
The second division is the production division where we create TV and Film content and the third division is PR where we work with clients to position them in the media space through different platforms. I began with no capital at all. I bootstrapped my company and worked from home in the beginning, with just my laptop and cellphone. This helped to bring my costs down as I didn’t have to worry about office rent, and I would drive to clients to meet them at their offices.
My business journey so far has really been one for the books. Being an entrepreneur means becoming accustomed to the word, “no” and not allowing it to dissuade you from your mission. It took a lot of proposal writing, pitching, getting rejected and repeating it again for me to land my first client.
I’ve worked with organisations such as United Nations Population Fund, shared value companies like Shift Social Development and through that account I worked on the first and second Africa Shared Value Summit which exposed me to creating PR opportunities for companies such as Discovery, ABSA, Enel, Nando’s, UN World Food Programme and host of other companies who were directly involved in the summit. It was a big learning curve for me and one of my biggest accounts to date.
The company has also produced three made-for-television movies for M-Net’s Mzansi Magic and we’ve also worked on a political campaign where we focused on crafting political messaging and following our candidate on the campaign trail and putting together weekly newsletters for stakeholders. Although our candidate didn’t win, I still learnt a lot being exposed to that environment. Currently we are servicing a leading gold mining company and have firmly planted our feet in the mining industry. So it’s a busy five years!
Q: What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
Getting started is always the biggest challenge. You are moving out of your comfort zone of a monthly salary, though in my case I was lucky because I was still a radio broadcaster at SAfm until March 2019 so I was able to supplement my income from my business. The second biggest challenge was securing the work itself. I’ve learnt and in many ways am still learning the value and importance of building strong relationships with clients. The reality of clients not paying you is also one that I had to face, and even as I write this I still have clients who owe me money, but I’ve learnt to be assertive when it comes to financial issues and not be afraid to face them head on.
Q: Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
When a client is happy with your work, it always makes the journey worth it. I can’t single out one particular moment, but sheer hard work and consistency and striving to be excellent have contributed to my success so far.
Q: What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
Firstly, you must be an innovative thinker. No two clients ever have the same need and the ability to innovate and be creative in your thinking is essential.
Secondly, you must understand how the media industry works. This will enable you to advise your client accordingly, and to make the right decisions for the client because they are putting their trust in you.
Thirdly, you must be thick skinned, as you will be rejected many times, told you won’t make it, shut down at times, but you have to be resilient and believe in yourself and the company you are building.
Q: Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?
Be clear about why you are starting the company and what you want to achieve, don’t be afraid to change direction if a service you are offering is not working or making money for the business, always be willing to re-invent yourself. Immerse yourself in the media. Read newspapers daily, immerse yourself with what’s happening on social media, understand the trends, build relationships with with journalists, media houses and also, don’t forget to craft a business model that will work for you.
Q: What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
Well this year we want to focus on growing the company. Im the primary employee of the company with many freelancers working on different projects, this year I want to build a strong team that will take the company to the next level. I am in development with a few exciting TV projects that I cant really mention, but it is a desire that I have to secure a drama series this year for the production division and also, secure more PR clients too. I think people can expect to continue seeing more from us in the years to come as we continue to grow and develop our product offering.
Q: What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
We need more successful media entrepreneurs to show others who want to get into it that with hard work, grit and innovation its possible. Your work ethic will always sustain you. Short cuts only lead to your journey being cut short.
Q: How do you ‘pay it forward’?
I hire interns where there is an opportunity, I regularly have sit downs with young media practitioners who need industry advise. With time, also hoping to give more young people opportunities.
Q: What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
“Work until the work is done. And then do it all over again.”
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