#10Questions: with Retailing Africa editor Louise Burgers
Meet Retailing Africa’s publisher and editor.
by Retailing Africa. Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is a seasoned journalist and editor with a long pedigree of publications she has led, both in print and digital, winning awards for her writing and her magazines over the years.
After a notable career in daily newspapers documenting the fall of Apartheid and the rebuilding of a democratic South Africa; she spent 20 years in business-to-business publishing in the FMCG and marketing communications industry, as launch editor of Progressive Retailing magazine and SA’s first FMCG retailing portal which she helped found, Fastmoving.co.za; and as editor of Bizcommunity.com, AdVantage and Marketing Mix magazines.
She has spent the past decade specialising in consumer trends, economic and marketing news on the African continent, writing for a variety of media; as well as honing content strategy for clients, including media companies, branding agencies and non-profit organisations.
1. What is at the top of your to do list?
Finding more expert columnists from the diversity of experience within the FMCG industry in South Africa and Africa; finalising my news calendar of key events to cover this year; and setting up interviews with leading retailers and marketing directors.
2. What are your core deliverables?
Developing Retailing Africa into a global and local resource for credible, independent, expert and exclusive news and analysis on Africa’s burgeoning retail and manufacturing sector; including consumer trends, innovation and brand leadership; with a primary focus on the South African FMCG industry as the most sophisticated on the continent, juxtaposed with the aggressive expansion of South African and international brands in Africa; the global impact of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as a true global game changer; and the kind of storytelling that will inspire others to achieve.
3. Tell us more about your strategy?
There is increasingly a glut of content as everyone and their dog (or cat) becomes a broadcaster and the media and brands scramble to keep up, creating more and more innovative ways to capture readers and build brand loyalty in a media environment that is becoming increasingly parochial and mistrusted. Fake news and the manipulation of news will only intensify and readers will increasingly rely on a few trusted sources – including their friends and colleagues – to get their news from.
Business-to-business media has always had an edge in that we connect industries to the broader economy and provide a pivotal role in professional development for individuals. More journalists like myself and business partner Herman Manson, the publisher and editor of South Africa’s leading independent marketing and advertising industry news site, MarkLives.com, are launching news portals with credible journalism at the heart of our business strategy, trading on our trusted personal brands built up over decades as journalists of repute.
4. Your biggest trend for this decade?
The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a game changer for Africa and will create the largest free trade area in the world – far bigger than the European Union – once it is implemented fully. Its impact will be felt this decade and as trade barriers come down and intra-African trade increases, thereby increasing infrastructure development, transforming local economies and creating more opportunities for all businesses, even South Africa will see its economy grow, despite the ‘best efforts’ of Eskom, and the institutionalised corruption that pervades our society.
5. How will you change the world?
Through positive and purpose-driven action.
6. Proudest career moments?
Interviewing former President Nelson Mandela in 1994 on the eve of him being officially confirmed as South Africa’s first democratically elected President; winning the PICA Awards’ Best Trade and Industry Journalist in 2010; and traveling to the United States to talk about B2B publishing in South Africa to the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) in 2008; the launch of my own content agency, SOURCE; and now, of course, the launch of RetailingAfrica.com with Herman!
7. Do you have a life philosophy?
‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ – Gandhi. I say this often: the only way to have hope in a world that seems to be descending into chaos and an economy that is tougher than Oom Gerrie’s biltong, is to focus on what is right in front of you, in your own community, in your own industry and what you can do to change things and have a positive impact. Seek out the positive stories. Seek out the people making a difference and become part of hope by joining a charity and giving back. It is the only way to stay sane and, indeed, thrive.
8. How do you inspire others?
With my positive attitude and passion for my craft and my country and my continent. I am definitely a glass half full kind of person and when confronted with any problem, challenge or adversity, I will always (after I’ve calmed down) look for a solution and a positive outcome or at the very least, the learning that can be taken from the experience. Life really is a journey and it’s the journey that matters and how you live every moment of your life, not just the destination.
9. What are you currently reading?
Radical Simplicity by Ken Allen, the former CEO of DHL (for review). The Art of Possibility by Rosmund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (again).
10. What is your superpower?
Being able to work and thrive amidst utter chaos. I started work in an era before the internet, mobile phones and laptops, as a hard news journalist on The Star and The Citizen daily newspapers. I had to file stories on deadline from public phone boxes in the dead of night with only my notes and the headlights of the car for light – while surrounded by bloody body parts from a plane crash or a bomb blast or in the middle of a protest in Johannesburg’s city centre, teargas choking us. Loadshedding… bitch please… we are South Africans, we’ve seen worse, we are resilient. My other superpower is baking – I love baking with my daughter – we are aces at cupcakes and my hot chocolate walnut pudding, a family recipe, is legendary – I’ve even had friends phoning me from overseas for the recipe so they could impress a date!
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