by Thinus Ferreira
Say the name "Lani Lombard" and if you've worked in South African television or covered it as media over the course of the past quarter of a century, you know exactly who she is - the gatekeeper supremo and publicist to TV's biggest shows and stars who is exiting her apex position as publicist after 25 years at M-Net.
Lani Lombard started at M-Net in 1996 as scriptwriter in the marketing department. Remember the M-Net continuity presenters? She wrote what they told you.
As the decades rolled by, first doing publicity for the myriad of M-Net's local shows of which Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was her first, then kykNET when that channel started to do its marketing and publicity, back to M-Net as publicity manager, then doing M-Net corporate communication as head of corporate communications, and eventually ascending to the pinnacle as head of publicity at M-Net, absolutely nobody's deep contact list, expansive industry relations, insider acumen or publicity star-making power even remotely compared to hers.
Lani Lombard has been the publicist in South Africa's television everybody working in PR aspired to be.
From her tour de force pitch-perfect press conferences, to her often-imitated but never equalled "Hollywood-in-SA" TV upfronts, press junkets and set visits, when it came to drumming up publicity for M-Net shows and stars, there has always been Lani Lombard - and then the rest.
Since joining M-Net 25 years ago, Lani Lombard has worked tirelessly to ensure M-Net – which now broadcasts the best international and local content - is widely recognised as the most thrilling and informative channel on DStv.
She has been a very impactful publicist and will go down in history as one of the best to do it in South Africa.
Together with the team she worked with at M-Net, she has set the standard for TV publicity. I am confident that she leaves a very capable team of publicists who are already making sure that her legacy remains almost perfect.
She will be missed. I personally am grateful for her years at M-Net and will forever treasure the working relationship we have built over the past decade.