Brand influencing is one of the paths we all wish to partake in once in a lifetime. Whether be it for the freebies or brand association we love being ambassadors of products, events and services we are affectionate about. To some this passion has become a 9 to 5 and what more can one ask for than to get paid for what they love doing. This week we are crossing the borders to have a one on one with a Public Relations, Brand and Social media Influencer, Azola Mlota who has realised the power of using social media platforms as tools to connect South Africa to various events in and around the country.
From the small town of Elliot in the Eastern Cape Province, this influencer has fought the small town/inferiority mentality and he is on the rise to be one of South Africa’s big events and brands mouth pieces. With a Twitter following of over 100 thousand responsive followers and over 24 thousand followers on Facebook, the 25 year old has harnessed the skill of promoting and linking people to brands, activities and events happening in South Africa.
Having a background in Language Practice and Public Relations Communication, Azola confesses that he fell in love with Public Relations and Social media influencing by default. He saw an opportunity to create a business and went with it “When I went to University, I had no idea what the course entailed but had to take it for the sake of my parent and peers. However having to acquire classroom knowledge and studying how students use social media to interact around campus, I saw an opportunity to use these platforms to grow my brand (and that of the organisation I work for). I realised that Social Media entails a lot of Public Relations, as you have to deal with various people on a wider scale”.
Azola has had the opportunity to work with brands such as Trace Mobile, Viceroy DJ Competition Search 2016, the Golden Bean Music Awards and currently the Mzansi Kwaito and House Music Awards, where he is Head of Public Relations and Social Media Communications. “My engagement with South African events and brands resulted in me being appointed as head of Public Relations by Gaeitsiwe Group, one of the biggest events management companies in the Free State.”
Under the mentorship of PR and business personality Tebogo Kotsi (Gaetsiewe group), Azola became motivated to establish, himself as a brand, and registered as a brand entity which gives services to events in particular by means of Public Relations and social media marketing. In his business grooming he has set principles of working and these have been his guiding line since he started out. Azola says, “As a brand myself, I work according to three categories: to PROMOTE THE EVENT I am assigned to work on, TO CONNECT the event to platforms such as TV, Radio and print and to ADVOCATE/REPRESENT the company, be it TV, radio or print.”
Azola’s career highlight has been working on the Golden Bean Music Awards with his PR assistant, Rethabile Hlalele. The team introduced exciting Twitter and video interviews of media personalities across South Africa to share and motivate towards the success of the awards. After the successful awards, his social media analytics and following blew up rapidly. According to him, late 2016 was a radical turning point of his career. Speaking of the journey so far, the social media influencer highlights the essence of hard work and always being eager to learn. “This has been an exciting journey for me. It has had its hectic times, but through a passionate mind I don’t feel the pain of the sleepless nights, especially when I have to balance work, school and my personal life. I am still young and believe that I will learn a lot from the people who are in the same fraternity.”
In February, Azola was identified as one of the leading Social Media Influencers by Daily Thetha a Talk Show on SABC 1. He was called for a LIVE interview session to share his journey from humble beginnings. “I believe I have a story to tell. My journey has been an inspiration especially to the youth, PR students and other PR practitioners”. Azola has also been interviewed on SABC 2’s Morning LIVE, Metro FM, 702 Talk Radio, Ikwekwezi FM, Kofifi FM and numerous online and print media.
His current project is the 3rd Mzansi Kwaito and House Music Awards to be hosted at Carnival City on the 24th of November 2018. “I have already advocated for the build-up of the awards on SABC (Channel 404 on DSTV) with the CEO/Founder Perfecta Khumalo just to give insight to the viewers on what to expect since the PR strategy has improved. Again this year we are growing bigger and I aim to make the event more captivating.”
People must expect more from Azola Mlota as he will be belting out amazing SA events and social media workshops to educate young people on how to turn social media into business.