Pieter Cronje: A strategist who can listen, grasp and think creatively.

Pieter has helped a variety of businesses, organisations and institutions with communication, marketing and business growth strategies as well as execution.

He has wide and deep experience and the ability to analyse, simplify, integrate and articulate. This is all backed up by operational and practical savvy.

Pieter is a writer, presenter, lecturer and inspirational public speaker. He consults, trains and mentors people in the professional world

Let's Get Started

Pieter also has a number of useful presentations and courses here:

Programme in communication leadership

“Communication is a powerful and essential leadership skill that is too important to be left only to professional communicators. With communication skills, you will be able to share your expertise with more people, more persuasively” – Learn from someone who has played a key role in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and handled major successes and crises in large organisations.

About the course

The discipline, skill and art of communication contribute the greatest value to an organisation or insitution at the source of decision-making. Communication expertise provides external focus, a reality check on how a decision or action will play out both in and outside the company and how its reputation, brand and stakeholders would be affected.

Leaders should invest in their personal and professional value by honing their communication skills. Good communication on all levels must positively affect performance and results.  You need communication insight and leadership to manage the power, impact and risk of modern media, labour and stakeholder dynamics and operating in a politicised country.

This course will explain the communication disciplines, how they work and how to use them. This will help you to move into communication leadership to the benefit of your organisation, stakeholders, staff, students and yourself.


  • To grasp integrated communication and its component parts – a critical leadership competency, application in and outside the organisation, the “casting vote”, the objective and effect of messaging.
  • To use media interaction skills in communication excellence – use media skills and communication proficiency in all forms of communication and interaction across the various channels.
  • To apply these insights to leadership behaviour and style – integrate communication skills in leadership, management and interaction, positive and persuasive communication, focus and effectiveness.
  • To optimize, maximize and leverage good communication skills for achievements and growth – incisive questions, direct response, context, clear briefs, assignments, sharing information and meaning, a compelling vision, ownership and team work.

Programme content

  1. Use the communication toolkit – electronic, social media, print, face-to-face, staff interaction, events, media, reputation/crisis management – strategy, implementation, integration, The One Page Media Survival Guide©
  2. The integration of marketing and communication – What is marketing? What is communication? Why should they function together?
  3. Live your brand – Consolidate goodwill for tough times and organisational clout – The Gadd 4D brand model, brand communication goes beyond the logo and values, debiting and crediting your brand account, aligning inputs, outputs and outcomes, leverage, maximise and optimise your communication impact.
  4. Apply Communication – Meetings, e-mails, reports, presentations, speeches – applying insights in business processes and procedures, impact, results and productivity, use visual agendas, risk management tools, social media – power and risk.
  5. Become a communication leader
    1. Part one: Your real self, mindset, style, personal interaction, conflict, 
challenge, inspire, making decisions, Schroder’s The High Performance Leadership Competencies, understand business protocol, use humour effectively
    2. Part two: Give inspiring, impactful presentations and speeches – prepare, execute, deliver.
    3. Part three: Labour and political dynamics, lead in a crisis.

This course can be adapted as a presentation or talk.


 pieter cronje sized 

About the presenter

Pieter Cronjé has extensive all-round marketing, communication and leadership skills, combined with management and business experience earned in local government, public enterprise and private sector organisations – in South Africa and abroad.

He has unparalleled experience in competitive, fast changing, crisis driven, sensitive and unionised environments, crisis management and communication as well as change management.

He has pioneered innovative, award-winning communication and marketing campaigns, products, and has managed national and international events. He has assisted organising teams in Brazil and Russia with their preparations to host the FIFA World Cups in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

During a career in journalism (Media24), broadcasting (SABC), energy (Shell), financial services (Sanlam) and local government (City of Cape Town) he has worked with top business and political leaders in global and South African organisations.

These entities have ranged from small and medium enterprises to a metro that serves 3,7 million customers with 25 000 staff and a R29 billion budget.   Pieter has led or been a core project team member for:

  • the transformation and regulation of the South African broadcasting industry
  • South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994
  • the introduction of unleaded fuel in South Africa
  • the first ever demutualization and listing of a major financial services company in South Africa
  • directing the City of Cape Town’s communications for its first eleven years as a ‘unicity’
  • the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup
    • the City of Cape Town’s “Seven Weeks to Seven Wonders” campaign that helped 
secure Table Mountain’s title as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

He consults as a marketing, brand and communication leader, strategist, advisor, speaker, presenter, facilitator, mentor, coach and has travelled widely. He is a columnist and writer.

Crisis communication and management

Even the best performing and prepared companies experience reputational, operational or business crises at some stage. And it usually comes when you least expect it.  A natural or man-made disaster, fraud and corruption, strikes or the actions or utterances of a senior executive could all trigger a crisis.

Resolving the crisis at a legal, technical or operational level is one thing.  Whether your company or organisation survives, manages, emerges stronger or suffers reputational and commercial damage also depends on good, expert and timely communication. Communication is not an afterthought; it is an integral part of your response to a crisis.

About the course

Responding to a crisis, threat to your business reputation and your business itself requires proper preparation.

Learn how to:

  • Identify your risks
  • Rate and categorise them
  • Manage them
  • Respond and communicate when they come

The course will help you with:

  • Operational procedures
  • Integrated communication
  • Communicating and interacting with your staff, the news and social media, your customers and stakeholders
  • What you tell them
  • Communicating fast and effectively and
  • The leadership required in such circumstances

This leads to a crisis communication strategy and plan with:

  • Integrated risk management: Identify risks, their likelihood, business impact and measures to avoid, mitigate or manage the risk.
  •  Disaster and risk scenarios:  Scope possible and probable crisis or disaster scenarios and record them.
  • Disaster risk management:  Use education, awareness, training and reliable information to avoid or minimise disasters.
  • Detail recovery plans:  Who informs whom, who leads, who decides, what is the primary and secondary response, what are the resources and logistics requirements, standby and disaster operation centre procedures?
  • Crisis communication protocol: Identify a single, mandated, highly experienced spokesperson for all public information and updates, tell it all and tell it fast, tell the truth immediately, facts as they unfold and are verified.  Agree interaction and protocol with relevant external agencies – e.g. South African Police Services and emergency medical services where appropriate.
  • Have a social media strategy: If there is an official communication and information vacuum, viral social media attacks, outrage, speculation, criticism and confusion will fill the vacuum.  Inappropriate or delayed communication will draw criticism and unfavourable media coverage.
  • Emerge stronger: A company that has all the above in place, the necessary expertise and displays leadership can emerge with its reputation and brand intact – even stronger.

The course can be adapted as a talk or presentation.

If you think about communication when you need it, it is too late. It works like medical aid and insurance cover.


 pieter cronje sized

About the presenter

Pieter Cronjé

As Communication Director and official spokesperson for the Independent Electoral Commission for the first democratic election in 1994 Pieter managed international communication about fears of bloodshed and an electorate at the crossroads between peace and violence. There were huge problems with logistics and none of the communication tools taken for granted today – such as e-mail, cellphones and the internet.

As Communication manager and spokesperson for Shell he dealt with refinery accidents, oil and chemical spills, cleanups, remediation, multiple fatalities in a road accident involving a fuel tanker, the sinking of Brent Spar oil rig, crises in Nigeria’s Ogoni oil fields after government executions of human rights activists leading to international pressure on Shell to disinvest

As Communication manager and spokesperson for Sanlam he was directly involved in the first ever demutualisation and listing of a mutual assurance company in South Africa. He was part of a multi-industry team (long-term, short-term insurance, banking and legal aid) to undertake an urgent, major, national, multi-lingual information and education drive in all official languages about insurance, legal and bank products for civil servants.

As Director of Communication and Marketing for the City of Cape Town for eleven years, he devised and executed communication strategies and protocols for the largest enterprise system in local government in the world, strikes, service delivery protests, electricity black-outs, water shortages, pollution, health risks, accidents and traffic disruptions.

He was part of the core 2010 FIFA World Cup team for five years dealing with numerous crises at international level and working with integrated risk management systems for this multi-faceted project.  He was part of Provincial Task Teams to deal with xenophobic attacks that displaced 20 000 people and a major electricity supply crisis in the Western Cape.

He has extensive involvement in litigation, legal processes, governance, procurement, ethics, labour and disciplinary matters.


In addition to his professional experience, Pieter is a trained SCUBA instructor and rescue diver with a keen interest in aviation and racing.

News Media Skills Training

It’s show time!

You have to face a journalist, or radio or television presenter for a live interview. Or a tense shareholder, stakeholder, union or staff meeting. If you get it wrong, it is there for all to see – and to remember and talk about.

You may have done this before, but on this issue the stakes and emotions are high, people have strong and different opinions. Thousands, maybe millions will be watching………..

What do you do? How do you prepare?

Communication skills are important in any profession – your ability to convey your expertise simply so others will understand and appreciate it.

These skills will help you face the toughest test for a communicator and company spokesperson – a live television interview about a controversial issue or crisis with a hostile presenter. Media skills and experience will help you in other tough communication spots and when you are having difficult conversations or meetings.

Course outline

After this course, you will have a thorough knowledge of different media types, the news process, how journalists work and how to interact with them and to be your company’s best ambassador in media interviews.  You will be given The Media Survival Kit© to help and guide you.

You the news subject:

  • The media landscape – the different types of print and electronic media
  • The news process – what is newsworthy, how is news generated, edited and disseminated?
  • Journalists – how they work and the do’s and don’ts when interacting with them
  • Messaging – answering questions, but getting your messages across
  • Media techniques – sound bites, phrasing, framing.
  • Terminology – what is a “leader”, “sound bite”, “phone in” and “off the record”?
  • Recourse – if you have been wronged or misquoted, what can you do?
  • Preparation – how to prepare for an interview, the unexpected, the curved ball
  • Studio and onsite interviews – how to prepare, what to expect
  • Handling aggressive interviews – how to remain calm and retain the moral high ground
  • Contingency planning and crisis communication – the do’s, don’ts and techniques of crisis communication
  • The Media Survival Kit© – the personal media armoury and guide for media interaction

You the newsmaker or source

  • Find newsworthy material – what would interest the news media?
  • Writing skills – how to write a media release, media response
  • Offering your story – choosing and interacting with your targeted media
  • Interaction – media release, media conference, briefing, background briefing
  • Choice of spokesperson – training, briefing, access, mandate
  • Decision-making – plan the communication at source, not as an after-thought
  • Formats – editorial, advertorial, advertising

This Media Skills Course can be presented one-on-one or for a group.  The format can be customised for the client’s specific needs with add-on options of actual on camera and telephone interviews, media conferences with a full assessment and DVD. 

pieter cronje sized

About the presenter 

Pieter Cronjé was Parliamentary, Political and London correspondent for Media24 and Southern African Editor for the group.  He interviewed many heads of state, international celebrities and covered major news events.

He worked in broadcasting management for ten years and was a member of a Cabinet Task Group that devised the current broadcasting model of regulation, public, private and community broadcasters.  He has handled major success and crises in several organisations and trained and coached their highest executives.  He has been interviewed by almost all the major international news organisations.

He was spokesperson for five organisations: The SABC, the Independent Electoral Commission during South Africa’s first ever democratic election in 1994, Shell, Sanlam, the City of Cape Town and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Cape Town.  He has also assisted Brazil and Russia with media and other communication aspects of their hosting of the FIFA World Cups in 2014 and 2018.

Based on this experience he devised The Media Survival Kit© that he uses in conjunction with media skills training and coaching.  Pieter has led or been a core project team member of several major undertakings.

Talks and presentations by Pieter Cronjé 

Pieter is an accomplished speaker and presenter with wide experience at international and national events and with a range of audiences.  He has been a compère, programme director/master of ceremonies, panel discussion leader and media conference anchor at many international and national conferences and events.

Talk topics:

  1. What Great Brands do – Seven Ways to Build a Great Brand today.
  2. Persuasive Communication – How to influence, inspire and get to yes every time
  3. How to be a powerful Networker – What the best Networkers know, do and say
  4. Smart Communication – A Hard Skill for Business Success
  5. Bunkers, Bogeymen and Bold Breakthroughs – The ’94 elections: Have we come of age 21 years later?
  6. READY! FIRE! AIM! – My South African Story (a speech by Pieter Cronjé)

What Great Brands do – Seven Ways to Build a Great Brand today.

Brands and branding are now driving the world’s most iconic and successful businesses.  Smart start-ups, companies, entrepreneurs and business people have found a new formula for building strong connections with customers that become loyal followers, even brand fans and fanatics.

Gone are the days when big budgets and saturation campaigns can force brands into your subconscious.  The new era is about heads, hearts and hands – heads making an emotional decision to buy, hearts making a brand commitment and hands buying and using what the chosen brand offers, gives and shares. 

Seven Ways to build one

  • Understand people’s mind space – What is your target market talking about? What are they doing? What concerns them?  What do they need?
  • Determine your personal brand – Can you describe the single, strongest value you offer to the marketplace? What is your passion?  How will the two combine?
  • Define you business brand – What are you offering not only in terms of products and service, but also advice and guidance, a cause greater than profit and a desirable social context?
  • Put your brand to work – Under promise, over deliver. Surprise and wow.
  • Find your “why” – People buy what you and they believe, not what you do.
  • Be authentic, real – That is a sustainable business platform
  • Have a long-term plan – Do you have an action plan for where you want to be in ten years’ time?

Persuasive Communication How to influence, inspire and get to yes every time 

The difference between just writing and speaking or communicating in an impactful way is what sets business and other leaders apart. Moving from sharing information to persuasion to inspirational leadership is a journey – where are you on the path?

Learn the skills, insights and techniques from someone who held senior positions in print journalism and broadcasting and then became spokesperson for five organisations.  Pieter Cronjé will share his experience on how to prepare for a public speech, presentation and meeting.

Learn how to remain calm under pressure in a crisis and put your message across in an interview with a newspaper, radio or television. Gain insights about writing in a warm, personal, inspiring way.

In this presentation, Pieter will explain how to:

  • Prepare a great communication plan
  • Align your team and execute the plan
  • Use the right words to attract, impress and persuade
  • Win people over who disagree or are indifferent
  • Deal effectively with opposition and bad ideas
  • Prepare for that big moment, that crucial pitch
  • Handle the pressure of media or other interviews
  • Apply the unwritten rules of communicating
  • Handle difficult conversations 

How to be a powerful Networker – What the best Networkers know, do and say   

Networking is so much more than exchanging business cards!

Pieter has networked with Royals, Presidents, celebrities, footballers, FIFA, Mayors, mortals and some politicians……and has lived to tell his story to many audiences. He mastered the skill in a career spanning journalism, broadcasting, elections, energy, financial services, government and international consultation.

He shares those skills and tools, but also the powerful impact of connecting with people, growth and possibilities.

A brilliant network is essential for personal and professional achievement. You need teamwork and networks for success.  Successful business and professional people learn how to inspire, align and energise their teams through powerful, persuasive communication and networks. Pieter will take you through the structure, steps and techniques needed to:

  • Get the vision and motivation of a brilliant networker
  • Learn the art of networking conversation
  • Build an integrated and effective plan
  • Priorities, focus, time management
  • Engage your team
  • Successfully build and maintain your network
  • Effectively communicate with your network
  • Acknowledge, celebrate, grow, debrief, re-invest

Smart Communication – A Hard Skill for Business Success 

“Communication is too important to be left only to communicators”.

Communication skills are no longer “soft” skills in business.  They are “hard” business skills.  Get it wrong and you can pay the price in lost sales, opportunity and reputation.  Get it right and you turn a buyer into a customer into an ambassador.

Communication mastery is at the heart of the Tom Peters mantra of treating customers like guests and your staff like people.  Customers have become informed, street-wise and vocal.  They do not have to find a newspaper or radio station to bad-mouth your service or sing your praises.  They have connected mobile devices and can instantly air their customer feedback on social media.

Communication and marketing are flipsides of the same business coin, not separate departments. Make sure what you promise your customer becomes true when he or she e-mails, calls or walks through that door.  Make a personal connection.

Understand how news and social media work and the do’s and don’ts of using them.  Know how to impress customers, handle complaints, make impactful presentations and pitches and create the best possible first impression and, thereafter, a business relationship. This presentation will give you communication insights, tips and tools to use in your profession or business.

These include:

  • Understanding integrated communication and the tools in the toolkit.
  • Using the classic principles of communication with modern techniques.
  • Building your personal and business brand.
  • Knowing the do’s and don’ts of news and social media and the skill of communicating through them.
  • Understanding how news media work and using your daily news to hone your own communication skills.
  • Learning to plan and prepare for pitfalls, and handling them when they happen.
  • Optimizing, maximizing and leveraging good communication and marketing for business success and growth.

Bunkers, Bogeymen and Bold Breakthroughs

The ’94 elections: Have we come of age 21 years later?

* This talk is especially topical in the run-up to annual Freedom Day celebrations and as a networking opportunity with invited clients, customers and stakeholders. 

The inside story of South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 is as relevant today as it was dramatic 21 years ago. The lessons and case studies from that pressurised, uncertain, crisis, yet game-changing time are appropriate for South Africa, business, NGO’s and civil society right now. 

International election experts warned that South Africa’s first democratic elections would take one to two years to organise.  It was accomplished, against all odds, in four months.  Imperfect, but widely considered and accepted as the will of the South African people, these elections united South Africans while waiting in long queues to cast their votes.


It was seven times bigger than any previous election, almost 20 million people voted at 10 500 voting stations, a third without water or electricity, in deep rural hamlets and without today’s information and communications technology.  Urban violence, sabotage, bloody clashes between political opponents, even armed invasions tested the Independent Electoral Commission, security forces and those who had crafted a peace deal.  It simply had to be ratified in a general election and 27 April 1994 was cast in stone.


The IEC grew from one staff member, its chairman, Judge Johann Kriegler, in December 1993 to 350 000 election staff on voting days.  A massive voter education drive saw 6 million manuals in 11 languages distributed countrywide to overcome illiteracy:  voter turnout was 86% plus, spoilt ballots were less than 1%.


Pieter Cronjé was in the thick of it:  As Communication Director and spokesperson of the IEC. In a fascinating, scary, humorous and uplifting talk, he will take you on that journey.  He will tell the story of:


  • The dark hours when the IEC was hit with decisive surprises and crises
  • The superhuman efforts and battle-like logistics to give people that precious chance to vote
  • Frustrating, humiliating and tense negotiations with Bophuthatswana and KwaZulu to participate in the ballot and allow electioneering in their territories
  • Violence on the East Rand, the Shell House shooting, no-go areas and Operation Access
  • How Pres. De Klerk was no longer governing and Mr. Mandela was not yet governing leaving the IEC to hold the reins
  • How international media descended on South Africa expecting bloodshed
  • Court action threats by major political parties on the eve of announcing the election results, almost scuppered a national effort
  • What did we learn from 1994?
  • What would it take to relive our proud moments?


The story starts in 1994, but does not end there.  Pieter was Communication Director and spokesperson for the 2010 Football World Cup in Cape Town.  He gives an insightful analysis of South Africa’s journey and reflects on where we are today, 21 years down Democracy Road.


What has gone right in South Africa the past two decades?  What has gone wrong and why?  How do we improve or fix it?  This first-hand story is about leadership and ordinary people in extraordinary events.  It is South Africa’s story.

READY! FIRE! AIM! – My South African Story (a speech by Pieter Cronjé)


From John Lloyd, CEO of Brandstorm:


I recently hosted a Smart Thinking for Crazy Times morning business seminar. I enlisted the services of a friend of mine to share the platform. Pieter Cronjé presented possibly the finest, insightful and irreverent talk that I have ever witnessed.


What made it so brilliant? It was the true story of his colorful, diverse and interesting career. True stories with a strong message make the most brilliant presentations of all.


I strongly endorse Pieter Cronjé as a brilliant strategist, a superb communications expert and a top keynote speaker. He will educate, entertain and inspire any audience. Contact Pieter at pieter@pietercronje.com to enquire about consulting and speaking engagements.