“ANYTHING from a packet of crisps to a new store opening, from an environmental education project to a Formula One race: every client wants his or her exceptional product on the front page of the daily newspaper,” says Lindy Nauta, owner of Hout Bay PR & Design International.
“Very often not realistic, but I have always loved the challenge of getting as close as possible to achieving that,” she says.
Lindy has worked in public relations since the mid-eighties. “In those days there were big marketing budgets and we organised many major functions entertaining hundreds of people. From international sports events, openings, announcements, launches in town or out in the sticks,” she says. “There was lots of money around. One day you’d be photographing babies for a store competition, the next day you’d be off in a helicopter with journalists to visit a power station. The following day you could be licking envelopes until the small hours of the morning.”
After several years studying and working overseas, where she learnt to speak fluent French, German and Dutch, she returned to South Africa and landed a job with Robin Binckes Public Relations, in particular to work on the international motor racing events that still took place at Kyalami then.
“I barely knew what public relations was. I was thrown in the deep end, the best way to learn - and with a great bunch of people.”
Other clients then included The Hyperama; Londolozi Game Reserve (“a wonderful client to have, journalists queued up for a visit there, resulting in fantastic coverage;”) The Wildlife Society and the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board who ran the Pilanesberg National Park. She tells a story of how the presidential toilet fell off the back of the truck, which – along with enormous thunderstorms flooding the marquee, all but derailed the park’s 10th anniversary celebrations in the middle of the bush …
After eight years Lindy had the opportunity of working in the press room of the 1992 Camel Trophy in Brazil and in Guyana for 3 weeks. “At Heathrow airport on my way over I was offered another job with the Sasol-sponsored Eddie Jordan Formula One team. “I never went home for a year – and travelled the world’s F1 circuits. It was every man’s dream,” she says. “But on occasion also every girl’s dream, like getting stuck in a tunnel in Australia with Ayrton Senna,” she laughs.
These days it is the quality of PR that counts. Companies no longer have big budgets. “When I moved to Cape Town and started my own business I saw a gap in the market for industrial public relations. This type of company is usually run by technically-savvy people with little knowledge of how to increase their ad spend with well-written and researched press releases that are of interest to the publications in their target market,” Lindy says. “I got my first break with Rhomberg Electronics and Instrumentation and now do work for Konecranes South Africa, which is part of a huge global crane company. Through their international network I keep updated on the latest marketing innovations.”
Lindy also writes regularly for the local community papers and does work for Wild Side Tours in Livingstone, Zambia. As well as writing and distributing press releases she also runs blogs and Facebook sites for her clients and does graphic design and advertisements.