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Cotlands: A day to play – World Play Day 2013

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

As one of Cotlands benefactors, I was invited to attend their Experiential visit which formed part of their #WorldPlayDay initiatives. Cotlands World Play Day - Handing Talooma donations over to LoisThe day included a tour of their head office as well as a practical demonstration of their transition from health focused initiatives to education.

Our tour began with visiting the current group of babies that are awaiting adoption, witnessing feeding time and some even getting bathed. At first, we felt a small reservation to go into the rooms but the sight of the smiles on their faces was enough to melt your heart! Following that we were taken on a tour of what used to be orphan rooms and are now the sensory rooms – sight, sound and touch. Viewing the tools used in each room really made me feel like I took nursery school for granted. I remember dressing up at school and fighting over who played what, yet there are so many lessons to be taught that many children don’t have the opportunity to experience.

We were also shown the hub of the Johannesburg Toy Library, a room where all the toys are grouped by the lesson it teaches, some brand new, some donated. This is where the ladies that travel to the different schools collect their packs from each week, depending on the lessons to be taught. I really felt special to have been able to have played with some of these toys as a child!

After having our faces painted, Europcar Vans were on hand to take us into Soweto. Our first stop was the Faba household in a more informal area, where Cotlands have been providing support and education to the 2 disabled grandparents of a small child. She is HIV positive and Cotlands have educated her grandparents on how she should take her ARV’s, as well as how to provide basic child learning. Cotlands also provide seedlings to help generate an income for families as these and some of the funds raised will be used to send the child to Grade R which, in addition to her health and extra education, will give her a better grounding for success in Grade 1.

 

Our next stop was to a little playschool at the Dube Hostel. We had to receive permission from the Chiefs to be able come in as visitors

to the hostel. Here people live without electricity and under political divisions. The residents have generously donated what was their Community Hall so that the children from the two opposing political parties can have a place to play, learn, develop and be looked after during the day. Some of their parents work, others do not and these children would normally not have done anything constructive. Now Cotlands sends a teacher with the latest Toy Library box and lessons for the week, to see them and help advance their development.

After playing with the kids at Dube, our day was completed by having lunch with Sakhumzi at his restaurant in the famous Vilakazi Street where he gave us a very inspirational talk!

He explained how a speech made by Nelson Mandela inspired him to lift himself out of unemployment and to help those around him. Focussing on something he loves he was already providing full bellies to his friends and family. He then opened a restaurant at his house. He now employs 70 people from Soweto at his restaurant, where he serves a buffet of traditional South African cuisine to locals and foreigners alike.

I felt so humbled to be spending the day with people trying to make a difference in our country – I even got to meet Miss South Africa, Marilyn Ramos, who is a Cotlands Ambassador.

Lois Moodley, National Marketing and PR Manager, was on hand to take receipt of donations from our staff members. Thank you to Kerry, Charlene, Bonita and Aimee for your kind donation!

Digital Relationship Building: away with link building

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Every digital marketer is aware of how vital inbound links are to any site’s search results performance. But what is link building and what does it entail? Do you have to go all out and ask site owners in your niche for links to your site? Most misinformed inbound marketers seem to be doing that and they have every right to go that route because it is not easy to get quality inbound links to your site.

Before thinking about link building and sending bulk emails (which are perceived as spammy by many people) to every site that you think is related to yours for link exchange, you have to think about a very important method that will benefit you and your site or business in the long term – “digital relationship building”. Building relationships with industry leaders is not an easy task as it requires a lot of time and knowledge about your market, but if it is done properly it can be the best link building method of all.

So the main question is, how do you build relationships in your niche if you are an unknown? Below are some of the proven ways to accomplish that.

Follow Industry thought leaders on social media

This one is the most preferred methods of interacting with the thought leaders in your industry and making sure that you interact strategically until you get noticed. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the best social sites to accomplish this and you have to produce engaging content regularly to be able to be perceived as worthy of being mentioned or having your content shared.

Guest Blogging

This part has to follow the one above because for you to be able to guest post on authority blogs you have to build your social profile and prove yourself on social media first. If you get mentioned and your content is shared by thought leaders, then it’s a matter of time before you start blogging for authority blogs and rolling online with the people you admire in your niche.

These are just some of the proven methods of building digital relationships with the sole purpose of link building. If you have any methods you have used and worked on, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.