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“The PR and communications sector in Mauritius is in a state of evolution”

Chair of the CIPR International Committee and Managing Director of Perpetual Motion, Samantha Seewoosurrun recently shared her views on the sector in Mauritius and the future development of PR with News on Sunday.

You have worked in international communications for over two decades and you have also lengthy professional experience in the public relations domain. What do you love the most about communications and public relations?

What I love most about communications and public relations is launching an exciting new venture or activity on behalf of a client, and then seeing the results in the media or hearing people talk about it. This proves that we have made a positive impact with our storytelling and helped the client to achieve its goals.

It is also a great pleasure to be part of anniversary events for clients which we have worked with since the beginning of their activity in Mauritius, which demonstrates how much progress has been made, how many jobs created, and how that activity has contributed to economic growth on the island. It reminds us that PR is a force for progress.

It is always wonderful to work with women entrepreneurs to help them build their visibility and achieve their goals and to support initiatives such as the Women Entrepreneur Awards.

As the Managing Director of a PR and publishing company Perpetual Motion, what are your views on the PR and communications sector in Mauritius?

I believe that the PR and communications sector in Mauritius is in a state of evolution. When I first began to make contacts in the PR market in Mauritius around 10 years ago, there were just a handful of firms, whereas today we are witnessing tremendous growth in the digital arena. This has led to a huge proliferation of professionals on the market which span traditional PR and communications as well as digital marketing, SEO, video production and more. As the market begins to mature, we are also seeing many people who have worked in large firms setting up their own PR shops or becoming freelancers. Overall, I welcome such developments as it leads to a more diverse marketplace for clients, with specialists emerging in different areas.

You are the Chair of the International Committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and you are also the founder of the CIPR network in Mauritius. What does the CIPR have to offer to PR professionals in Mauritius?

The 75th anniversary of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, as the only Royal Chartered body for the public relations industry globally, marks a significant milestone for the organisation, and one which we are celebrating around the world this year!

As Chair of the International Committee, I have a keen interest in promoting best practices in PR and communications from around the world. For example, in recent months we have held webinars looking at the state of PR in the MENA region, in the Caribbean, and most recently on building digital bridges and on communicating the successes of women as part of Africa Communications Week. Next month we will hold a webinar on doing PR in India. The CIPR also has a strong focus on the future of the industry, with a number of initiatives underway in the field of AI and digital tools.

By joining CIPR, PR professionals in Mauritius can also access over 1,400 learning resources to support their professional development, such as skills guides, ethics playbooks and e-learning tools, among others. This provides PR professionals with the opportunity to diversify their learning in new areas of disciplines which might not be part of their current day job.

I would encourage all PR professionals in Mauritius, at all levels, whether just starting out or climbing the career ladder, to join CIPR to build their knowledge, sharpen their skills, expand their networks and, eventually, to achieve the status of Chartered PR Practitioner, as the hallmark of excellence in the profession.

The Communications and PR sector is quite new in Mauritius. What are the main challenges we have to overcome in the PR and Communications sector in Mauritius?

One of the main challenges is that PR is not always regarded as a profession! The consequence is that many organisations do not take it sufficiently seriously and may not recruit the right kind of people with the right experience at the right levels. If the organisation then experiences a crisis, it will struggle to get the right message across to its stakeholders. This is where PR agencies can step in to assist in crafting messages, creating communication plans and developing a strategy for the long term.

Another challenge for professionals working in the sector is keeping their skills and knowledge up to date in the digital era. With new tools and platforms constantly emerging, PR practitioners should take a critical view and work out which of them can be applied effectively. There is a lot of hype currently about AI tools such as ChatGPT but by definition such tools can never generate any truly fresh content, it is rather an amalgamation of what has gone before. PR and communications professionals working in strategic roles can look for the tools which save them time and energy so they can focus on their relationships with clients and key stakeholders as well as business development.

Many young people are passionate about communication and PR but encounter difficulties when it comes to finding (very few recruitments in the sector and not many PR companies) as well as securing a professional job in the sector. What are your views?

Since I came to Mauritius, I have had the pleasure of meeting many PR and communication students at universities such as Middlesex University and Curtin, and I have even hired some of them for Perpetual Motion! It is true, however, that the number of students may exceed the number of vacancies on the market, noting that many PR jobs were lost during the COVID years, particularly in hospitality, and it can take time to rebuild.

My advice to students and young professionals starting on their career path would be the following: Look for opportunities to expand your skills and networks and keep in touch with the people you meet. Create your own content. Build your portfolio. Get involved with your local community and see if you can help with events or publicity. One thing I have learned on my own career journey is that one thing leads to another. The person who turns you down today might call you back when circumstances change to offer you an opportunity. You never know who or what might be around the corner so remain positive in your outlook and you will create your own luck!


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