Necessary endings and new beginnings: DevCom is now The Communication Collective.

Mari Lee  |  6 March 2024

Necessary endings and new beginnings:
DevCom is now The Communication Collective

DevCom has contributed to the communication profession in South Africa and globally for the past two decades. When I founded DevCom in 2005, I was in my mid-twenties and filled with passion, vision and drive (that hasn’t changed!). I knew in my gut that there was space for development communication in the mainstream marketing and communication space and that there was a need for a combination of social impact and business results. I could not find what I had in mind, so I created it. For years, DevCom was a unicorn. What a journey it has been! Looking back, I can only stand in awe… with gratitude. Subsequently, a whole social impact communication industry integrated into corporate and business communication has evolved. I am proud we were the first adaptor and remain a leader in this field.

Over the next 19 years, DevCom created me and many others as much as we made her. She had a life of her own and was a generous learning platform. She contributed to many clients and individuals and grew and became a household name. We have changed many lives. I am very proud of that. The case studies, careers, projects, numbers, awards, and many stories we have gathered are a testament to the powerful force of communication that means everything.

2023 was a watershed year for DevCom. In June 2023, we decided to change DevCom’s business model. Until then, DevCom ran a model of employing several core staff members and using a pool of accredited associates to make our capacity elastic. We have also been blessed with several retainer clients for many years. As the market and business landscape shifted, we leaned increasingly into our network of freelancers and accredited associates. We decided to retrench all our staff following significant retainer contract changes and fully launch into a business model where we work with associates only. Human nature wants to hang on to the old, and part of us did exactly that. One morning in January 2024, Ruaan, Maryka, and I looked each other in the eye and realised it was time for a completely new season. You don’t pour new wine into an old wine bag.

Following the global trend of the gig economy and the market shifts, we have been working on this agile model for the past couple of months. We have realised that it is time to change the brand with the business model change for clarity in our approach, client interaction, and authenticity. The legal entity will remain the same: Mari Lee Consulting was always the legal entity, trading as DevCom. As of 1 March 2024, we will trade as The Communication Collective.

It is a necessary ending. DevCom was generous, but her season is completed. 

It is a new beginning. The Communication Collective will enable consultants who do not want to do it independently to work in a supportive environment, accessing the best of DevCom in the process.  

This will stay the same: 
The legal entity.
Mari Lee Consulting will still be contracted with all our clients. All the legalities and BEE 1 Level will be maintained, and our current services with our clients will continue as they have always done.

You will have access to the same professional people – a group of qualified and certified communication and marketing professionals.

We are taking the best of DevCom and repackaging it into a new business model in The Communication Collective. This means that the consultants working in the Collective have access to our IP – our case studies, recipes for success, and our ability to generate new ideas and innovate will be the same.

Our drive towards excellence, business results, social impact and professional development.

Our service offering: We still deliver comprehensive marketing and communication services, with a focus on:

    • Analytics and research
    • Strategy and action plans with a focus on internal communication, engagement, brand and marketing strategies
    • Training, professional development and workshops
    • Delivering full-scope communication and marketing services, including design, writing and editing, digital and other channel management, etc.
    • Social impact communication in its full scope.

This will change:
The brand we trade under.
DevCom will now be known as The Communication Collective. In this place, a collection of seasoned communication professionals shares an administrative structure, freeing us to deliver high-quality consulting services to our clients.

Less large shop-floor level implementations. DevCom has become synonymous with implementing large communication and marketing projects. We will focus on smaller projects and our strategic ability, with fewer resources dedicated to on-the-ground implementation.

Adding new strategic executive-level services. We will add some services we did not have the capacity for before. Our senior business leader-level consultant will do more specific work with executives in organisations – we can handle overflow work and act as shadow executives or managers. Our turn-around time is fast, and our ability to integrate is exceptional.

The way we internally function – we will have no payroll or full-time employees. The full team is made up of independent consultants focusing on customer service and excellence. There will be an internal structure like the DevCom structure that allows the same service delivery. Still, each consultant will have their earning targets and deliver their services with the support of The Communication Collective.

Celebrate a season wonderfully completed with us on 18 April 2024.

As is the tradition for DevCom – we like to celebrate, share, and communicate with all our stakeholders as part of our journey. We will be hosting a last FREE DevCom Masterclass on 18 April 2024. We are inviting all the people who have been part of DevCom’s journey – more than 400 staff members in 18 years, more than 80 clients, and plenty of industry acquaintances who have benefited from her generous training. The Masterclass will focus on the top 10 lessons of all time from DevCom. We will ask the attendees to share their stories, lessons, and contributions to DevCom. We will also share the new Communication Collective plans and exciting announcements of the communication and marketing professionals who are part of the Collective. The celebration will also be a place to acknowledge Ruaan, Maryka and many others whom have contributed significantly to the success of DevCom.

We invite you to celebrate with us. An invitation will follow shortly. In the meantime, book this date: 18 April 2024, 14:00 – 17:00 Master Class, 18:00 till late celebration of all that was DevCom and all that is The Communication Collective.

On a personal note, the transition has both been liberating and highly challenging. I realise that I must embrace all the facets of me (YES! My word of the year is Facets in 2024), and for so long, I was very well known as the founder and CEO of DevCom. I am a world-class communication and marketing professional who has worked with the best teams. And I will remain that. But DevCom is not all that I am. This opens space for me to work part-time in a counselling practice in Centurion, where you can access my coaching, mentoring, and counselling skills. I will continue to work as a marketing and communication professional, with more time to work directly on projects rather than managing large accounts and businesses. It has taken me back to what I love to do (I am doing fieldwork, messaging, and every aspect of the work myself again – I love it!) with the people I like to do it with. This is a courageous move. Almost as brave as starting DevCom 19 years ago was. I feel it in my bones, my heart, and my being. It’s a new season, and I know those who need to be there are right here with me, with the courage to walk alongside.

You will receive more notes from us during March, telling you more about The Communication Collective, its professionals, and the projects we work on.

With much love, humility and excellence,

Mari Lee
Founder and CEO
Mari Lee Consulting t/a The Communication Collective.