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Obakeng Ntong talks Showbiz & shares insight into Public Relations

#CAREERS FT: Obakeng Ntong: Dressed by SIMONI Exclusive Menswear Collection. Styling & Interview by Kay Khanye.

Who is Obakeng Ntong? 

My character is filled with many tricks in the bag! Obakeng is Creative Energy, I worship everything love intended. On average; lifestyle, fashion, male grooming, and health have become my sense of peace. I’m now a brand strategist and pop culture enthusiast too. I live for telling a story and I think that’s what drives me creatively and spiritually.

You work for a PR agency, how has that change been like for your career?

Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-3Initially, my career began in broadcast and entertainment, I had been “SoulJock” for a while and that’s the entertainer in me. Radio platforms like YFM and TV shows on SABC and Mzansi Magic made me realize that I could just settle being “SoulJock”, however as I grew into the industry, the most important thing for me was to learn the business of entertainment and the tough lessons around it.

So, I invested in myself and married producer extraordinaire self with brand strategy knowledge. I developed strong regard for producing amazing content for brands and that is what I deliver for my
clients as a brand communications strategist. I love the breadth of my work, it’s a modern take on-brand communications. My experience has gained me full control over the joys of manifesting mouth-watering strategies, that see me go as far as producing videos, writing scripts, and executing experiential events.

How do you handle the demands of the job?

Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-9Always be what we call “plugged in”, meaning you have to immerse yourself in what you’re doing, but that does not only have to be translated to work, it’s a livelihood motto.”
When I walk into the office need to be fit enough to provide solutions, so I  find person corners to work in and I switch on my spiritual
audios, they bless me with such motivational love energy. I find it soothing lately to take time out to speak to the sky and the birds and the trees, it’s really therapeutic for me, there is amazing knowledge you gain from silence and connecting with nature – a world of ideas is exposed, awesome for problem-solving in your daily  livelihood.”

How do you balance individual work and teamwork?

My position requires a great deal of leadership and I’m slowly learning that delegation is important in getting things done. My teamwork strategy is to put on my “all-seeing eye”  delegate and support. Everybody is leading one part of the campaign and supporting another, including me.

I find that managing down and also giving the team the freedom to manage me keeps us all in a place where we are always making progress Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-13because there’s always work being drafted, thoughts being shared, rethought, approved, and presented.

What is your idea of workplace diversity?

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I live in a world of creative problem solving and I have learned that each contribution to delivering a great brand experience or solution must be appreciated, nurtured, and allowed to soar when ready. It’s being respected for what you put on the table and understanding that everybody’s contribution will make for a great product. We need to open ourselves up and allow into us – what I call  “the light” – a sense of service to excellence.

Work diversity is embracing differences with constructive opinions.

Apart from putting together an impressive portfolio, what other ways are there to get into the business?

Social media has reinvigorated the power of the reality show you can create around yourself, it’s definitely a public portfolio you can use to showcase a lifestyle aspect of your overall persona and in relating to the public as PR would have it, it’s important that the public resonates with you because you’re going to be Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-8asking them lots of favors.

The more clinical way is to search PR firms on BizCommunity and you’ll see which jobs are available but also, which recruitment companies are focused on your industry. The talents of the world have done a great job of placing people in agencies from the junior/intern phase right through to directors. Save e-mail addresses, make some cold calls, and enquire about opportunities, put yourself out there and the right energy will pick you up.

You started off on radio and transitioned to PR, how did that change happen?

YFM was doing their annual reshuffle and so the uncertainty sort of settled on what was next for me as a content producer/radio presenter.

I had survived a lot by then so I knew whatever Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-1is next will take me to a new level and somehow I always trusted to find a way to be creative and it came in the form of an unexpected meeting where I was escorting a friend to an interview at DNA and wound up being hired too.

I needed the business side so I could start having the right conversations about where I wanted to be, brand-wise and PR offered me that; a creative outlet and comfort. I loved it instantly.

Given the choice, would you go back to the radio?

I would definitely go back to the radio, without a doubt. Especially now that I have so many elements of the industry engrained in me, the content I have to share is elevated and more researched. I’ve built amazing case studies that form a part of the stories that rock society and I think there’s an interesting story there too. Radio is me. Content is me.

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What is your biggest accomplishment?

The honor of the Golden Circle Award at the Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-4annual SAB Awards. It was for the most notable campaigns done by agencies for Flying Fish, a brand I’ve worked on since its inception. It felt good to be recognized for the story we’ve been able to weave into the brand’s cool. That’s what I live for.

Being able to go to Zanzibar to shoot one of the campaigns was also a true highlight. We shot a dual campaign with Grazia and Previdar Magazine with cover girls Miss Lootlove and Amanda DuPont respectively. It was a festive mix of resort wear with an African print edge, lots of sun-kissed moments, and Flying Fish to cool down the day. The whole trip was a working holiday. We worked hard and we played hard too – memories!

What do you regret?

Obakeng-Ntong---Previdar-Careers-10I don’t regret anything at all, if anything I’ve identified opportunities for improvement.

What reassures you during times of self-doubt?

Where I am now compared to where I was. It’s ever-changing and it always gets better. I can identify moments of sheer pain but I can also identify leaps of growth that I’ve led myself to that I should be proud of. I am my own little superhero in my own little way and that reminds me to just stay in it because it always gets better.

What is your take on fate/destiny?

You determine who you want to be based on how much knowledge you are willing to expose yourself to. That’s the bridge to destiny.


Do you have any promises you have made to yourself?

You don’t have to please everyone.

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What would you like the world to know about you?

That I’m here to share my service to the world and in every way it manifests, it will be creative.

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