Robyn de Villiers

//Robyn de Villiers

Robyn de Villiers

Chairman and CEO: Burson-Marsteller Africa


Robyn is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Africa. She has been engaged in public relations and corporate communications both in South Africa and across the continent for over 25 years. Through Burson-Marsteller Africa, the unique network of indigenous, in-country communications consultancies she founded, Burson-Marsteller provides local and international clients with market relevant communications services in over 50 African markets.

The Burson-Marsteller Africa network is recognised locally and globally as the premier Communications network on the continent and in 2016 Robyn was recognised by the Holmes Report, the PR industry’s most highly regarded trade publication globally, with an EMEA SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement. In 2017 she was invited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations International (CIPRI) to deliver the Maggie Nally Memorial Lecture in the House of Lords, Palace of Westminster – her presentation was on Communications in Africa.

Robyn’s experience includes issues and reputation management, communications strategy development, crisis communications, public affairs and investor relations. A respected communications practitioner, Robyn is called upon by business associations and local and international communications associations to address, and facilitate training for, communications professionals, public relations and corporate communications students and corporate audiences on a range of topics including reputation management, issue and risk management, crisis communications management and working across Africa.

Robyn holds a BA (Languages) degree and is a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner (CPRP). She holds full membership of PRISA (the Public Relations Institute of South Africa), IPRA (the International Public Relations Association), the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators and the IMC (Issues Management Council. Robyn is the Vice President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) where she is also the Chair for Training. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Business Initiative (NBI), a voluntary group of leading national and multi-national companies, working together towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa through public private partnerships, practical programmes and policy engagement. She is on the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce for Southern Africa and she serves on the Steering Committee for the 30% Club of Southern Africa. Robyn represents Africa on the Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa Leadership Team and is on the Global Advisory Board for Burson-Marsteller’s Advantage Women Initiative.

Twitter Handle: RobynDeVilliers@RobynDeVilliers

Lecture intro

Africa Communications Rising

Africa is rising.  Africa’s Communications are rising too. There are 6 main reasons for the rise of Africa as an investment destination and each of these 6 has an impact on the practice of effective communications.  Over the past 30 years, many African nations have enjoyed better governance and regulatory environments and this has impacted how business is done, including government relations and stakeholder engagement. African nations have also enjoyed increasing political stability which naturally has an effect on the business environment and on communications.  Africa is the most mineral rich continent on earth and the increasing demand for minerals is seen to have had both positive and negative effects on Africa. This is an area in which communications plays a significant role and must continue to do so, both in highlighting the positive effects on Africa, but also in showcasing the negatives and working to eliminate them.  Unlike many parts of the Western World, Africa has a young and growing population and boasts an expanding labour force.  Effective employer communications are critical to this vibrant audience. And Africa’s economies are growing, with the resultant increase in urbanisation and the emergence of a growing middle-class consumer base.  Both of these trends demand a concentrated effort on effective communications.  The opportunities for business in Africa are immense and they deserve to be well-communicated.  Equally, the continent has her challenges and effective communications serve not only to highlight these but to make a contribution to seeing them resolved.

An understanding of Africa is critical to effective communications in her 54 nations.  A one size fits all approach simply does not work.  Burson-Marsteller Africa boasts 25+ years of working in Africa, has learned the lessons of effective communications across the continent and is keen and willing to share.