While we all try to find our way back to the new normal, Eclipse Communications won’t let the effects of COVID-19 prevent them from restructuring and working on expanding their business.

Eclipse Communications welcomes [back] Natasha Kleyn as the Senior Account Director for the consumer division in Johannesburg. We sat down with Natasha who not only told us a bit more about her aspiration for Eclipse, how to grow your business post-lockdown but also the story behind why Eclipse will always be a part of her story.

Can you give us a thumbnail of your professional self?
I have 11 years of PR and three years of brand activation experience – creating, managing and executing campaigns for FMCG, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, CSI and corporate clients.
I am a creative, resourceful, determined and intuitive marketing communications professional with an eye for detail, a hunger for results and a passion to make a lasting impact.

What are some of your accomplishments in your career?
Working on the SA launch of Showmax was definitely a highlight, as was meeting Richard Branson and being instrumental in the success of two Guinness World Record campaigns. I have worked on many leading global brands from various categories and have successfully run a string of long-standing accounts.

What is your history with Eclipse?
When I started as an intern in 2007, the agency consisted of a team of five. I spent most of my time doing press clippings (which looked very different back then – scissors, a ruler, glue and lever arch files) or in the storeroom selecting samples to deliver to fashion and beauty media for shoots. I do NOT miss trying to find parking in Cape Town CBD and having to lug boxes and bags all over the place, especially while trying to look presentable. Very fortunately, my role evolved!

After working my way up the ranks at Eclipse over a 6 year period, I left the “nest” to spread my wings, frequently returning in a freelancer capacity over the years.

Now, after gaining a huge amount of experience in PR, eventing, brand activation and more, I find myself back where it all began.

What is your role at Eclipse Communications?
In a nutshell – my role is to grow the JHB consumer division. I’m focused on growing the client base and ensuring the delivery of exceptional work.

What do you like most about your job?
The rush of seeing your work appear as earned media still does it for me! Hands down.

What keeps you coming back to Eclipse and continuing to work with the agency?

  1. The people: I love the maturity and forward-thinking approach of the leadership. They understand the importance of outcome vs input and embraced flexible working arrangements MANY years ago.
  2. The work: Eclipse has always demonstrated a high level of creative thinking and comes to the table with ideas that don’t fit in the traditional PR box. I never want to be bored at work and I love the challenge of creating and innovating
  3. The clients: Since its inception, Eclipse has attracted an impressive client list. I mean, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to work on brands such as Vodacom, Coca-Cola and Nespresso!?

Thanks to you, we are known as Eclipse – How did you conceptualise the name?
At the time of brainstorming a new name for the agency, we were undergoing a big change to the business. For me, the name was about:

  1. The act of eclipsing something – the new taking over the old
  2. The nature of an eclipse drawing attention to itself. It’s a big deal and the world takes notice – that speaks to the work that we do for our clients.

What value do you think you will add to an award winning agency?
Apart from being an all-rounder in PR, with a heap of experience in the field, my brand activation/experiential marketing experience adds a level of creative thinking, production know-how and project management ability that I believe will be an asset to the agency and its clients.

I take complete ownership and responsibility for work given to me, I have very high standards and I’m an achiever by nature. This means 100% quality control for client work and a big focus on delivering results.

I am intuitive, can put myself in others’ shoes, and can usually anticipate perceptions and reactions while keeping perspective. This has helped both clients and agencies when planning campaigns, being able to read the room, and being able to see the bigger picture.

What is your advice for securing new business?
You have to find a way to stand out. You cannot be yet another agency calling yet another number on the list, in the hope of providing yet another service (that everyone else claims to provide too). If you’re going to succeed in securing new business, you have to put the effort in.

I also think that your reputation is incredibly important. If you do good work consistently and you maintain good relationships with clients and other agency partners, people will refer you and the business will come.

Do you think the traditional approach to securing new business has changed in light of the pandemic?
Yes, absolutely. Securing new business is going to be tougher than ever for the next while. You have to be more thoughtful than before, more sensitive to where businesses are at, and more creative in your approach. Four things that I think are most important for new business development at the moment:

How have you adapted your growth strategy in light of the pandemic?
We have to be realistic about growth prospects. While I would love to go in all guns blazing, many businesses – even the big ones – are struggling to stay afloat and prevent lay-offs. Being pushy at this time is a big no-no. It’s going to require patience, grit and careful timing.

What is the benefit of PR agencies for consumer brands especially during the lockdown?
The role of the PR agency has evolved, and with the massive move to digital, the overlap with other agencies has become greater than ever. I believe some of the advantages of using a (good, innovative) PR agency, especially during this pandemic period are that:

  1. We are brilliant at developing low cost, high return campaigns, so with super tight budgets, PR is the way to go!
  2. We add a layer of added-value to any media or influencer deals, not only delivering a greater ROI, but ultimately a well-rounded, engaging campaign with more touch-points.
  3. We are perfectly positioned to help brands evolve during lockdown and beyond. It’s our job to identify opportunities, to find the link, to package the offering and to take it to market. That’s what we do. Whether it’s a simple press release or a new business venture the same, unique skill-set goes.
  4. We manage reputation. As we adapt to the constantly-evolving “new normal,” brands have to be super sensitive to their messaging, their imagery and their offering. With an ear to the ground and our finger on the pulse, we’re able to advise brands and assist them in crafting campaigns that are relevant and contextual while protecting and growing their reputation.

3 things we don’t know about you?

  1. I recently started a personal blog
  2. I’ve been with my husband since I was 16
  3. I really enjoy pulling out weeds – random, I know, but I find it SO therapeutic.

Something so special about is you opening up your home as a haven for abandoned children. Tell us a bit more about that? How did this come about?
I was adopted as a baby and was fortunate enough to meet my biological mother as an adult. I was one of the VERY few lucky ones. It formed a big part of who I am and I’ve always had a very special place in my heart for abandoned, neglected and abused little ones. My husband and I are firm believers in doing what you can with what you have. We may not be able to change the world and we don’t have the resources we’d need to make a big impact, BUT we do have a home and we can start there!