Amid a global pandemic, climate change, and daily tales of tragedy and woe – the impactful and positive work being done by non-profits and higher education institutions can easily go unnoticed. But thanks to Lynne Rippenaar-Moses and the team at Wrap it Up PR & Communications, stories of positive social impact and social justice are getting more public attention.
Founded in 2013, Wrap it Up offers strategic communications and public relations support to organisations making a positive impact on communities at a local, national and international level. And as the company’s founder, Lynne is also using the business as a vehicle to afford young women (but not excluding men) and people of colour an opportunity to be mentored, develop existing skills and learn new skills in order to climb the ladder faster in an environment where few women, in particular women of colour, hold executive positions.
Lynne’s story begins in the mid-2000s, during her time in the corporate communication division at Stellenbosch University.
“I was a fulltime writer back then and editor of the campus newspaper,” she explains. “It was here that I got to learn a lot about all the impactful research being done in various departments at the university – but, having worked as a sub-editor and journalist before, I felt a lot of the good stories were being lost in overly formal and jargon-heavy language.”
This made it difficult for the average reader or journalist without a scientific background to understand, which meant that great stories were not always picked up.
“I love the late Maya Angelou’s style of writing – simple, but impactful and jam-packed with wisdom. That’s how we should write.”
When an opportunity arose for her to work for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, she was finally able to blend her passion for positive social impact and storytelling to create awareness, educate and showcase the tangible difference that the faculty was making in society through its research.
“I’ve always wanted to tell uplifting stories of people making a difference in society, and to do so in a way that was accessible to the average man on the street,” she recalls.
“I was working at the faculty three days a week, and one day I thought, why not use my skills to help non-profits and other universities to tell their good news stories. That’s how I started freelancing on my off days for clients in Stellenbosch and Cape Town.”
By helping social impact organisations share their good news, Lynne is actively supporting their efforts to generate donor funding, sponsorships, attract volunteers, reach more beneficiaries. and build credibility with local audiences. But in addition to that, she’s also using Wrap it Up as a platform to help capacitate the next generation of communications practitioners and supporting their journey into the world of digital communications as well.
Lynne explains that digital communications rely on great content, whether we are talking text, graphics, videos or photos. If you want to grab an audience’s attention in a communications space where everyone is vying for attention, you need to start with great content. This is something she instills in her team every day.
“It’s important to understand that it takes a long time for people who work in communications to climb the career ladder. You start right at the bottom, and it can take several years to learn and master just the fundamental skills and competencies of the industry,” says Lynne.
She continues, saying that: “Part of my mission as a business owner is to bring young people into the sector – specifically women and people of colour – and give them an opportunity to learn new skills, get hands-on experience with projects, and ensure that when they leave, they have the necessary requirements to enter another job anywhere in the world and advance beyond a junior position much quicker.”
Considering the current lack of diversity in the South African communications industry, Lynne sees the empowerment of under-represented people as paramount to the sector’s future: “In our society, you need to have a wide range of voices, cultures and lived experiences in the room when decisions are made. Without this, you can’t make sound and impactful choices when trying to communicate with very diverse audiences.”
With Wrap it Up approaching its tenth anniversary, Lynne acknowledges that – amidst all the inspiring stories she and the team have helped tell – her entrepreneurial journey hasn’t been without its fair share of challenges.
“In addition to the usual issues of capital and cashflow, I think the biggest obstacle for me was the fact that a lot of people in my generation never had the opportunity to study entrepreneurship nor connect and learn from more established entrepreneurs back then,” she says. “When I finished matric in 1996, our country was focused on more important things than entrepreneurship development. With more pressing matters to attend to, many of us in that era missed out on opportunities to participate in entrepreneurship development programmes, which were rare then.”
Her first exposure to entrepreneurship came from her grandparents, who owned a fish shop in Idas Valley, Stellenbosch – but otherwise, Lynne adds that it is often difficult for her peer group to get direct exposure to veteran business owners.
“But if I’ve learnt anything from my grandparents, it’s to always think about the people around you and that you can make a living and give back,” says Lynne.
In the last two years, she’s been fortunate to participate in an international mentorship programme, the Cherie Blair Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business programme, and the Stellenbosch Network’s 2021 Entrepreneurial Mentorship programme.
She concludes, saying that “running your own business is tough and you need to learn to be resilient and to put in the work – but it’s the most amazing thing to see, when you witness your passion taking off and realise you can do what you love.”
To learn more about Lynne and the work being done at Wrap it Up PR & Communications, go to www.wrapstrat.co.za