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Jenni Newman PR: Jenni Newman

Jenni Newman has built a PR business based on reliability and integrity

Monique Verduyn



Jenni Newman

“You spend an enormous amount of time at work when you run your own company, so you had better have enthusiasm for what you do.” That’s the word from public relations doyenne Jenni Newman.

Newman was vice chairperson of Lobedu Manning Selvage & Lee SA. She left there to form Jenni Newman Public Relations. Through its global network the company has affiliates in more than 90 countries.

It offers PR services across the board, with a list of clients that has included Philips, Telkom, Daimler Chrysler, BMW, Rolex, Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis, Roche and South African Airways. Newman regularly secures millions of rands’ worth of publicity for these companies.

Following a career in travel writing, in 1992 Newman decided to set up her own PR consultancy. It was then that Leo Burnett approached her to work with the agency in a winning pitch for SAA. In 2003, after a ten-year relationship, she decided it was time to do something new.

“Running your own business is a challenge,” says Newman. “You are responsible for the wellbeing of other people and you owe it to them to run that business well. I think my success stems from having a family that taught me nothing was impossible. I’m also fortunate in that I love PR because it has given me access to an enormous number of different industries – PR requires you to be an instant expert on everything, from technology to fashion to pharmaceuticals.” Newman says success depends on a few non-negotiables:

“You must always say what you do and do what you say. Also, have a good financial manager and be conservative in your spending – never commit your company to any big expenses if you are unsure about something. Reward people really well for success and, though it may be tempting, don’t spend a lot of money on yourself. A business needs good resources; always make sure you have the best equipment so that people’s work lives are easier and more efficient. Never buy anything without an order number.”

The PR industry comes with its own set of challenges and making sure clients pay is one of them. “We bill fee-based work in advance,” says Newman. “Where big projects are concerned, we put together a budget, estimate what needs to be paid when, and arrange for the client to pay us first.

We do not lay out any money on behalf of clients. If we do work for someone we don’t know, we request a 50% payment in advance. I never allow any exceptions. There is nothing worse than completing a job and then having to run around for your money.” Newman believes integrity is important.

“We are honest with our clients. If we’ve screwed up we tell them. Reputation is built over a long period, but it can be destroyed by one bad mistake. I aim to be decent, honest and kind in everything I do.” She says the personal touch is vital in business.

“I keep names on file of people I may have talked to years ago. I remember birthdays and anniversaries. If I read an article in a magazine and I know someone who has an interest in the topic, I send the story to them. I’ve generated a lot of business that way.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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