14 years ago, Kabelo Binns left his well-paid job as a Public Affairs Manager at Debswana – a position he achieved at the age of 30 – to seek his fortune elsewhere.
It proved to be an inspired decision.
A year later the Serowe-native founded Hotwire Public Relations Consultancy, which was Botswana’s first and is now the country’s leading PR company.
The father-of-three sits on the Consultative Council chaired by President Mokgweetsi Masisi and is a member of the Presidential Task Team tasked with developing Botswana’s long-term strategy (Vision 2036).
Binns also acts as the Media Chair at Business Botswana, Vice Chair of the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) and is a Council member of Brands Africa Organisation.
The Voice reporter Portia Ngwako-Mlilo caught up with this busy PR guru/family man to gain an insight into his business dealings and discover what makes him tick.
Q. What inspired you to start your own consultancy?
A. It is not something I set out to do when I started formal employment over 20 years ago.
I had always wanted to be in an environment that allowed me to grow.
I have a belief, ‘You are either growing or going!’ When I stopped growing in corporate, I started looking around for a new opportunity.
However, coming from Debswana, it was always going to be tough to find a job that would expose me more.
My late mentor, Louis Nchindo (former Managing Director of Debswana) called me in one day and said, ‘If you can’t find it, build it,’ and so I did!
I set up Hotwire, Botswana’s first and today’s leading Public Relations and Public Affairs consultancy.
Q. What makes a good PR consultant?
A. That is hard to say, as every client is different and so is every assignment.
I believe the key to being a reasonable consultant, in any field, is to be open to change, open to changing your approach and mindset.
A common misunderstanding is that PR is about press releases and the occasional media intervention.
This is but a small facet of what the profession of PR does! In simple terms, we are relationship professionals, helping organisations ‘build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships.’
From staff relations to investors’ relations, from customer relations to supplier relations, we are experts in ensuring that these vital relationships or interfaces are running optimally.
Q. Unemployment, especially amongst the youth, is a huge problem in modern-day Botswana. Where do you think the jobs will come from?
A. As a person who operates in the Creative and Media sector, I truly believe that this is where a lot of jobs for young people will come from.
Batswana are creative by nature – this comes from the tradition of storytelling as a form of education and knowledge sharing when we are young.
We all know that the rabbit is smart and the jackal is naughty through these stories.
If we harness more of the Creative and Media sector’s opportunities, I believe we will see more and more jobs.
Careers like musicians, actors and comedians – these are supported by jobs such as sound engineers, cameramen, mixers, graphic designers and more.
This will happen when the Creative and Media sector is provided with a conducive environment to flourish.
Thus, better venues for concerts, progressive bylaws that govern events and nightclubs and so forth.
Q. How have you managed to remain relevant in the business and keep it afloat?
A. I believe, as with most things, a lot of luck has played its role.
As a team we work very hard and are committed to a singular ambition to make our mark on the world.
As Steve Jobs put it, we want to ‘put a dent in the universe!’
Q. What are the major challenges you face in this industry?
A. Finding skilled staff is an ongoing challenge.
A lot of young people have degrees but few have any real relevant work experience.
We often blame the education system, which, to some degree I agree with.
But on another level, I believe that young people should look beyond short-term desires of making money.
They should consider doing internships and treating those internships as part of their education.
Once you have both work experience and qualifications, then you can demand high salaries.
It’s an attitude and mindset we need to encourage younger people to take on.
Being a waiter or a bartender is not a bad job, it is a powerful classroom to teach a person customer service, for instance.
I encourage young people to take on any job they can to learn to work, learn timekeeping, learn what eight full hours feels like.