We’re continuing with our #DIYwithDYD series. #DIYwithDYD is a series that follows creative individuals. We learn how they made their amazing projects happen. This week we’re talking to Rachelle Crous, the founder of Rachelle Crous Publicity. She has dominated the PR industry and represents some of your favourite acts including ISO, Beatenberg, Dan Patlansky, ShortStraw, Bittereinder, The Plastics, Michael Lowman, Gangs of Ballet, Mr Sakitumi, Niskerone and Haezer. She even does behind-the-scenes PR events work for brands like Capital Craft, Park Acoustics and Griet. She is one of the few people that we are certain knows the ins and outs of the music industry in South Africa.
DYD: We’ve known you for quite a while as the angel that manages quite a few of our favourite South African music acts. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Rachelle: I own Rachelle Crous Publicity where I specialize in PR/publicity for bands, artists, events, festivals and other projects. I also co-own the production company Bouwer Bosch Films and am a director of the Liefde Wen charity.
DYD: How long have you been in the PR industry and what made you decide that you were going to take on the industry?
Rachelle: I started working in PR in 2008, but back then I didn’t really know what I was doing. I started doing it full time in 2011, so let’s say around 5 to 6 years. It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision to become a publicist, I started out just wanting to help one or two people playing in bands because I really thought they were amazing musicians and artists. When it became time to make the decision whether or not to pursue PR full time, I decided to do it against most people’s better judgment. I do what I do not for myself, but for the people I represent. It is an absolute honour for me to work with them every day, to promote their lives’ work. They do what we can’t do, which is ultimately writing the soundtrack to our lives.
DYD: We often come across individuals that are not involved in careers that they chose for themselves at a university level. Do you fall into that category? Did you study something related to PR?
Rachelle: I sure do. Not at all – I have a LLB Law degree from the University of Stellenbosch.
DYD: Who have been some of your favourite acts to work with?
Rachelle: I am very particular about the people/bands/brands I choose to represent. It’s not a case of “We want to hire you, what are your rates?” for me, although I do get that a lot. Since I started doing PR, my most important rule has always been the fact that I will never promote anything which I do not believe in. I can’t convince others to like and support someone or something which I don’t. So with regards to favourite acts, seeing as I choose my artists wisely, I really love all them and their art.
DYD: We’ve been able to generate a lot of content because of your input. I’m sure that you get to work with a lot of blogs in the scene. What advice would you give to upcoming blogs and websites?
Rachelle: Big thanks to DYD for always supporting my artists and the projects I am involved with.
Advice for new blogs / websites: Be reliable. It might start off as a hobby for you, but it is most likely not a hobby for the person supplying you with content. If you agree to do something, don’t make the person who supplies you with content have to follow up with you a hundred times. It’s easy really: If you don’t want to be involved with the content they send you, tell them that from the start.
DYD: We sometimes see you sending through emails as early as 4am. What’s happening at 4am?
Rachelle: Hahaha. Besides me working, not much hey. People tend to think the music industry is full of glamour, events and parties. Someone even asked me once – “So you get paid to party?”. Some of my friends still think I don’t have a real job! The work behind the scenes is hard work which demands dedication. If there is work to be done, I don’t make excuses, I do it. So whether that means working until 4AM, or getting up at 4AM to do it, it gets done.
DYD: What have been some of the difficulties you’ve had to face along your journey?
Rachelle: When I started out doing PR, I was just this random person interested in music. I didn’t grow up in a musical household, I didn’t have some or other great knowledge of music, I didn’t even know what PR was or what a publicist does, seeing as it is not a very common job. So it took a really long time for me to make a name for myself in an industry where I was an outsider.
DYD: What have been some of the highlights that you’ve experienced?
Rachelle: Oh, there have been too many to mention. Off the top of my head, my first album launch for The Plastics in 2010 was a big highlight. Grietfest is my absolute favourite annual event to work – I have been with Griet for 5 years and I get to work with all the amazing producers they bring to SA on a regular basis. Discovering MonArk and launching their Number 1 album with them, just to name a few highlights. Every time I get to work with someone I have admired growing up or whose career I have been following for a long time, it is always a highlight and a privilege. Right now I am working on my first movie, called Mooirivier, which is also a big highlight for me!
DYD: This feature falls in our “Do It Yourself” series. We’re trying to get young people to see different ways of handling their futures. What advice would you give to young people about starting their own projects and/or businesses?
Rachelle: Just do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite know what you are doing or where you are going – if you are doing something you love or have passion for, you can never go wrong. Austin Kleon said if you find something you love, turn it into a hobby and then find ways to make a living from it. There is absolutely no boundaries if you are willing to put in the work. It will lead to something great in the end. Hard work never goes unnoticed, even if it takes a while.