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South African PR leader Nicola Nel wins PROI Worldwide Founders Award

PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of leading independent communications agencies, has presented the 2023 PROI Founders Award to Nicola Nel, founder & CEO of Atmosphere Communications in South Africa. Over the years, Nel has served as a PROI Board member and supported many important initiatives and committees, where she helped guide and elevate the international organisation.

‘Nicola Nel has displayed a dynamic, creative and innovative approach to building her own agency for more than two decades,’ said Jeff Lambert, PROI Worldwide Global Chair and Chairman of Michigan-based Lambert Global. ‘She has brought that same enthusiasm, mindset and spirit of collaboration to be a strong change agent for PROI over the years.’

In accepting the award, Nel said, ‘As a network of independent, entrepreneurial agencies, PROI has created a pivotal role in connecting myself and my team to some of the best agency owners across the world, and it was a catalyst for our growth, innovation and best practices over the past decade.’

Honouring Nel’s achievement, PROI donated US$1,000 in her honour to BEST College, a Cape Town, South Africa, school that educates street kids with learning disabilities from gang-infested neighbourhoods.

She added, ‘Our profession plays a critical role in shaping narratives, connecting brands and organisations, and fostering understanding in an increasingly interconnected world. Let us continue to push boundaries, embrace innovation and use the power of communication to make a positive difference in society.’

Founded by Nel in 2002, Atmosphere is an integrated brand and corporate communications consultancy with offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The agency believes there is an interesting, creative way of telling every story, and makes it their business to do so. Atmosphere was acquired by Accenture Song in November 2021 and it is now part of the global Accenture Song network, offering full-service communications solutions across several industries, including financial services, consumer goods, technology and media. 

The PROI Founders Award was created in 2021 to recognise outstanding contributions to the organisation and success of its entrepreneurial businesses. The Founders Award is named in honour of the eight communications entrepreneurs, with a vision for growing their businesses and helping each other, who founded the organisation in 1970. 

PROI Worldwide is comprised of 89 PR and communications businesses in 165 cities and 60 countries. Lambert said, individually, they are proven leaders in their home markets. Collectively, the PROI partners represent more than US$1.128 billion in revenue and 8 800 employees.

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