With over 10 years in PR and marketing, Marisa Calvert is an award-winning communications professional. Back in August 2019, she fought off tough competition going up against Lali Stander and Keabetswe Taele to win the Woman in PR and Sponsorship at the Momentum gsport Awards.
Marisa Calvert, director and founder of Marisa Calvert Communications
Fast-forward to 2020, and as a result of Covid-19, Calvert fulfilled a long time dream of becoming her own boss by launching MCC - Marisa Calvert Communications, a publicity, strategy, communications and brand building consultancy.
As a proud Level 1 (135%) B-BBEE, 100% Black-owned and 100% Black female ownership, Marisa Calvert shares more about the new adventure.
Can you tell us a bit about MCC?
MCC – Marisa Calvert Communications – is long-time dream of mine. I have always enjoyed the communication side of my work and how integrated and effective communications can make or break a brand.
My focus is on the people behind the brand. I use my network to elevate personal brands of people and in turn, make a difference.
For me, a brand must have that feel-good element to it and that is what MCC strives to do.
When, how and why did you get started?
As with many things in 2020, we were forced to adapt. I come from a sports background and when all sports stopped immediately, so did the monies to pay salaries. In August, I started making plans to live beyond an impending retrenchment. In November, I officially launched. A major motivator for me was to live a more fruitful life – to spend more time with my family than in traffic and to work on clients that drives my purpose – making a difference.
What is the core function of MCC?
Communications – whether internal or external, social, or traditional. MCC represents people and what they stand for.
It is important for me to align with people who have a vision to make the world a better place because it is crucial that we leave the world in a much better state than we found it.
Those are the stories I want to tell, the stories I want us to celebrate.
What are some of the services MCC will be offering?
Internal communications solutions where we work with HR departments to create a culture of open communication within the workspace. We find that many times there is a huge disconnect between marketing (client and customer facing) and HR (staff facing), where many employees feel like they’re just there to do a job and get paid, whilst not being aware of any other events planned for customers.
Publicity campaigns for small to large events, ensuring that there are positive and thought-provoking stories being told. This includes any press release writing and dissemination and all media relations.
Customised brand building for anyone who wants to grow their personal brand – whether they are athletes, upcoming athletes or motivational speakers.
Sports PR, with a focus on growing youth and women’s sports in South Africa. Here we work to build and maximise an athlete’s image potential, allowing the player to focus solely on perfecting their specific craft.
I found that players are represented by great agents but there is always a space to connect with their fans as well as potential sponsors – and this is where MCC comes in.
This also includes media training and social media etiquette.
In my years of experience, I know that the media loves to work with athletes who are reliable, knowledgeable and garners results while players want to work with those who tell their story best. So, it really is a two-way street. And no player has the time to research media outlets to see which one is the best fit for them.
With potential interviews, MCC would also make sure that there are informative and proper interview briefs to ensure the player is fully prepared for the interview. The nice thing about getting us on board as your publicist is that the news won’t stop when the season ends. MCC will ensure that you have year-long credibility which will increase your attractiveness, and this results in value and revenue.
What is the biggest challenge with getting started?
The biggest challenge with getting started is exactly that: getting started. It has taken me a very long time to take the plunge. You start wondering about the next pay cheque or immediately fill your mind with negative thoughts like ‘I’m going to fail’, until you reach a point where you don’t have a choice but to start.
For the past few years, I surrounded myself with an inspiring bunch (my friends who became family) and all they do is gas you up. There is literally no space for any negative thoughts!
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
As mentioned before, surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you. And believe in your product/service offering! Worry about money later. But you must be prepared to work hard! I’m working harder today than I’ve worked before because MCC is my baby and unlike my garden, I want to see MCC flourish. So, I put in the long hours because I need to put food on the table. And there is no boss paying me for warming a desk every month. If you’re willing to make the sacrifices and going the extra mile, this is definitely for you.
What has the response been like since starting up?
Since the launch, the response has been incredible! I have expanded my network beyond sport and found that I enjoy the tech world too. I’m exposed to a lot more industries and being the hustler I am, I always sniff out a story that can turn into revenue.
What do you believe are the traits an entrepreneur needs in order to succeed?
They must be open to collaboration. Be leaders. Have a few creative bones in their bodies. Must be able to make decisions under pressure (the right decision, that is). Be flexible and be able to adapt. And most importantly, have a vision, a purpose. And if it doesn’t serve your purpose, you’re going to go off track.
Why would you encourage someone to become an entrepreneur?
The freedom. The decision to not work Friday afternoons and rather pick up my son earlier so that we can have a weekly mom and son date. I used to spend hours in traffic every day and it sucked the living hell out of me. As much as I loved my job, it was the traffic that drained my spirit. If you want flexibility, become an entrepreneur but you need to be flexible to put in the extra hours too.
Where would you like to see MCC in the next year or so?
I want to see MCC represent more athletes with the same goal in mind: to change the world. I’d like to move my office from home to an actual office space and I want MCC to collaborate with other entrepreneurs too. And hopefully, in the next five years, MCC will launch its very own bubbly. Champagne, darling!
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