I want your job: Marina Nestel
Marina Nestel, the owner of The Little Black Book, talks to us about her glamorous job in PR.
Name: Marina Nestel
Job: Owner of Little Black Book
Tell us about your job, what does it entail?
I run an event, PR and promotional company. We specialise in weddings, corporate events and launches. Our exclusive database is beneficial to all our clients as we have one of the most sought-after databases in South Africa, which consists of sports personalities, celebrities, influential business men and women and glamorous socialites. We hand-pick people from our database accordingly and make sure that our clients get a return on their investment by having the right calibre of people at their events. Our PR department also ensures that all our clients get maximum coverage via media months after the event took place.
How did you get here?
I lost my job at a very big corporate firm and could not find an appropriate job that suited my personality. I landed up working in some very depressing jobs, one being a sales rep in Airport Industria where I landed up cold-calling at all the depots and industrial factories. The pay was okay, but I was lonely being the only sales rep and found the lack of interacting with likeminded people extremely depressing.
I started to do small launches for bars and restaurants on the side while working in this job. I then managed to convince my boss to allow me to invite some of the CEOs of the companies I was repping for to my parties to encourage them to sign up with us for sales. This worked in my favour for a while and I built my business, but eventually the work started to pour in and I couldn’t lead the double life anymore. The turning point was when Nicky Greenwall interviewed me at Cape Town Fashion Week, after I did the PR for Rosenwerth, organised all the goody bags and sponsors and invited all the guests.
What made you want to start your own PR Company? Was it always the dream?
I started off as an event business, but the media consistently contacted me for invites because many celebrities were attending my events and I was always launching the hottest bars, restaurants and hotels. They always needed a press release, which I used to outsource to a friend of mine as one of my weaknesses is writing. Eventually I was getting so much extra coverage for my clients for free that I realised the next step was to open up my own PR division. I hired Jules Illing who was in the PR game and have never looked back. My business is now 50% events and 50% PR and the two go hand-in-hand with most of our accounts.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing everything come together after months of hard work and seeing the photos of everyone enjoying themselves on our facebook page after the event. I also always get butterflies in my stomach when I pick up a magazine with coverage that we pitched for our clients.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Managing clients’ expectations, especially when they have given us a small budget for either PR or events. I also find the proposal and quoting process stressful as many clients are cutting back on costs, but want the same for their money so it is my job to shop around and make a shoestring budget look like a million dollars.
What’s the most challenging request you have ever received from a client?
A lot of my clients come to us as we have connections and the ability to get sponsorship for our events. However, this is a very time-consuming process as you need to pitch the event to each sponsor and sell the event to them and then also guarantee coverage and expectations for the sponsor.
How do you deal with challenging clients?
I used to get very emotional about demanding and unreasonable clients but after years and years of abuse you develop a thick skin with these situations. I find that the more experience you have with dealing with these situations, the better you are at managing them and almost avoiding them.
Which event would you like to host and why?
Any event with a BIG budget that allows me to showcase my creative talent and enable me to use the best suppliers and artists in town.
What has been your career highlight so far?
The World Cup Party – I conceptualised, organised and ran the PR around the event at the One&Only Hotel for Sol Kerzner. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mick Jagger were some of the international stars at this event along with SkyNews and most South African journalists and celebrities. Other events that spring to mind are: my annual Vibe event at the Grand Beach which I own the rights for and the Alphen Hotel and Bungalow launch parties.
What is your recipe for success?
After being in the industry for over 10 years I have built up a very loyal supplier base whereby all our events run smoothly from beginning-to-end. We will only take an account if we are in control of everything from the décor, catering, bar service, waitresses from the Little Black Book promotional division and PR. This tactic ensures that our VIP guests’ expectations are managed and they will continue to support us at the next event. My philosophy is that you are only as good as your last event so one can never get too complacent in this extremely competitive industry.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Stuart Chait once said to me, ‘Success only comes to those who persevere no matter how many times you get rejected and fail. You never give up and continue to strive for what you believe in.’
What characteristics would you say a person needs to do your job?
Personality, ambition, the ability to speak to anyone at any level, being able to come with a solution in crises at any given moment and one generally needs to think out-of-the-box during these challenging financial times.
If you were not in PR, what would you do?
A lady of leisure with time to pursue my hobbies. PR found me; I didn’t going looking to be in this industry it happened by chance.