Why I’m devoted to Nigeria PR Report

Nigeria PR Report 2016

So we had an AMA ( ask me anything chat) session on BHM‘s Facebook and Periscope yesterday, and someone wanted to know why we are doing the annual Nigeria PR Report and what impact I  think it’s had.

It’s a question I get asked a lot. Why are you doing this? What’s in it for you and your agency? Are you building some sort of credentials so you can run for PRCAN presidency? Or you’re just using all the campaign to position your agency? Someone even suggested it’s a covert spy operation to help us know what’s happening with competition. And I laughed in Itsekiri

My answer? None of the above could be farther from the truth. But it’s not the first time I’m being asked such. In 1998 when I started organising the Youth Awards for Excellence in Music, YAFEM, there were many at the time who thought I was doing so many of such free, popular events to position myself to run for PMAN presidency. You’re laughing too? Hahahahahahahahaha!

I believe in building ecosystems. I believe in baking bigger pies so everyone can have a bigger share. I believe in making communities better than I met them. I believe in building tomorrow today.

That’s why we do NECLive every year, for free. That’s why we publish Nigeria PR Report every year. That’s why I do most of the things I do. Chatting with a friend this morning, about this article from The Atlantic, it suddenly dawned on me that all the industries I work in are endangered: PR = endangered. Media = endangered. Entertainment = endangered. To fold one’s arms, and continue business as usual, is to be digging one’s grave without knowing it.

I believe the PR Report brings something we desperately need to save our businesses: data. We need to know what’s happened, what’s happening, how it happened, why it happened, etc etc if we are to plot a good future for ourselves and those coming behind. We must have the kind of insight that takes us into the minds of the market, the minds of the consumer, the minds of government, the minds of our customers, and other stakeholders, if we are to potentially make informed decisions around our individual businesses and the industry in general. We need to know what areas to invest in, what skills to build, what new markets are opening up, what new tools could make distribution and reporting better; what technology we could utilize to transform our work, and ultimately our businesses and our clients’. How do you build a multi billion dollar industry while you’re winking in the dark? You simply cannot!

As PR people, we like to use that quote Richard Branson has denied owning: ‘If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on PR’. We like to tease potential clients, asking them to not ‘wink in the dark. We like to complain about so called ‘digital marketing’ pulling the rug from our feet; we like to give advertisers and media buyers the side eye, insisting they’re getting paid so much for doing so little.

But the joke is on us, really. If we really want anyone to ‘spend their last dollar’ on public relations, then we must do better than we currently are doing. To do better, we need to know better. To know better means having the right data to help with strategy and planning and measurement and billing. We must pul the wool from our own eyes first, before asking multinationals who have built big businesses, or SMEs building amazing businesses, to stop ‘winking in the dark.’

One of two things eventually happens to endangered species: the are either rescued and preserved, or they go extinct. I see a big opportunity for PR now and in the future (I see the same future for entertainment and media, and it’s not even because I’m afraid of what will happen to me and my family should these three industries go down :|); a big opportunity with governments, with consumer companies, with technology and media. There’s a higher probability that our industries will morph into something formidable if we continue to do things differently, if we continue to innovate and self-disrupt. The entire BHM vision is built on the belief that Africa will deliver the brands, businesses, leaders, thinking, tools and nations that’ll run the world in a matter of years. And we believe it is possible.

Let’s just say it’s time to build tomorrow!

The best decision I took in 2016

The kids enjoyed every minute of our first family trip together

The best decision I took in 2016.

 

So I took my first family vacation.
We were to travel with our friends, the Babaekos in December of 2015, but, as usual, I chickened out.

You see, I’ve been working since I was 18, afraid of failure and too ambitious for my own good. I do get to travel often, around Nigeria and overseas. But it’s usually brief. Usually for trainings and meetings and even more trainings. If you are the CEO of a young, growing business, it’s easy to think there’s no time to take time off.

So I never took time off.

But in 2016, my body started telling my brain to have some sense. I would listen to their conversations and shake my head.

It was during one of such sessions, while I did my best to not meddle in those body-brain arguments, that the Babaekos offered again; asked actually, if we’d love to come with them to their home in Kabba, in Kogi state, for a family vacation.

It’s one of those offers you accept before thinking of the implications. In fact, I think my body put a gun to my brain’s head and screamed YES, as if it was an answer to a marriage proposal.

It’s the best decision I took in 2016.

So at the peak of work in December, I shut down, drove 10 hours to Kabba, in Kogi state, and remained there, for all of 10 days.

I was born in Aiyetoro-Gbede, about 15 minutes from Kabba. And I had not been in that area since the burial ceremony for my grandparents in 1996.

So you’ll understand when I say this was more than a vacation. It was a spiritual excursion, a trip into my past; my beginning, as I prepare for the next phase of my life.

From visiting the street I suspect I was conceived, to combing over 150 plots of farmland, attending the Obangogo carnival where I failed to get to the top of the hill; to pounding yam with Steve, Dotun and Yetunde, playing tennis at St. Augustine’s, and drinking palmwine like it’s going out of vogue, I spent the period between December 23 2016 and January 2, 2017 chopping the life of my head in company of the most important people in the world, in one of the most important towns in my life.

 

The kids made new friends, played football, spent time swimming, threw fireworks, and fought over what to watch on TV. It’s the longest time I’ve spent with them, without having to rush off to work, or to one of those endless meetings. Actually, it’s the longest I’ve stayed without rushing anywhere, or doing any serious work, since 1995. For the first time in years, I found no use for my computer; no use for social media.

 

If you live in the city, rushing to and fro work from Monday to Sunday, working day and night for a take home pay that can’t take you anywhere, you’re likely to look at those living in villages with contempt. If you live in a place like Lagos, barely taking vacations and ‘hustling’ your days away, it’s easy for you to be deceived into thinking you’re living the life.

 

Spending 10 days in a village taught me one lesson: the most important things we need in life are food, shelter and basic healthcare. And these people have all three. It may not be luxurious buffets and Banana Island town houses. But they eat fresh, organic food, live in decent homes, with the basic facilities needed to exist. It’s actually likely they eat better food than we do. They don’t have to deal with traffic and noise pollution. And they actually have standard educational facilities. St. Augustine’s, where we played tennis, is as good as they come.

 

I don’t expect all of us to suddenly move back to the village, and I’m not saying there are no opportunities here for those living in places like Ayetoro Gbede, Kajola, and Odobata. But as we take frequent trips to London and New York, as we visit Kenya and South Africa and Dubai, we need to take a look at our backyard and return to our roots. As recession bites and the nightmare of foreign exchange continues, we need to consider tourist trips and spiritual excursions to our ancestral homes; places where we don’t have to spend dollar and pounds; where there are even no shopping malls!

 

And what’s more, I was convinced the government of the state had no clue of the opportunity for tourism and foreign exchange sitting untapped in this place – an actual goldmine waiting to be discovered and explored. I was enthralled by the picturesque landscape; the delicately balanced rocks seating precariously atop one another; the fiery dust sprinkled generously on everything, everywhere. Kogi only recently increased its monthly IGR from N350m to 600m; nothing to write home about when compared to Lagos which generates around N30 billion per month. The amazing Obangogo hills alone, with no clear access roads, maps, facilities and guide, is a waiting contributor to the state’s IGR, if the government would see the opportunities and put the right things in place. Instead of opening just once in a year, Obangogo should be a tourist destination available to host visitors 24/7 – with good revenue from ticketing, food and beverages, tolls, photography, games, etc.

 

I for one will plan to take more vacations, alone and with my family. And it won’t be just to London and Glasgow. I’ve already pencilled my home town, Oka Akoko, in Ondo State, where both my parents are buried, for my 2017 vacation.

The Babaekos gave us the vacation of a lifetime; and opened our minds and eyes to a world we – especially my kids – didn’t know existed. Then heading back into Lagos, we spent the night in Akure, visiting Dotun’s younger sister, her mom and grandmother. When we settled down with mama in her living room, and I brought out my phone to photograph four generations of Nigerian women, I knew the trip was definitely not a good decision. It was the best.

 

What a way to start a new year!

 

 

 

 

Why I won’t be leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories. Or will I?

Instagram-Stories

I am a Facebook fan. I love the platform and the thinking behind their business model. I understand the vision of the founders and believe companies like Facebook are a very important part of today’s and tomorrow’s world – in whatever way you look at it.
The world will continue to get interconnected, as we all work together to solve local and global problems, and build better lives for ourselves and the next generation.

Because Facebook has implications for our organisation, BHM, I have taken the pain to understand how the company works. I studied Google for years, even attending an FT meeting with Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in London in 2014. Then I faced Facebook and became a self-taught expert. When the opportunity came to attend F8, Facebook’s developers conference this year, I grabbed it with both hands, even though it was days away from our own conference NEClive.

I left San Francisco convinced that Facebook could be a gift and a curse to the media, tech and advertising industry. The telcos see Mark Zuckerberg and his company as a frenemy, the media see them as enablers and enslavers, I don’t know if the ad industry sees them the way they see Google yet.

Ayeni-Adekunle-and-Facebook-Engineering-Manager-Brian-Dewey

With Facebook Engineering Manager, Brian Dewey

We’re at the cusp of something important and it is difficult for anyone to actually accurately predict what the next few years will look like. We are all at best, speculating based on what we can see from where we stand. What is certain is that there will be major losers and gainers, short term and long term. When it finally happens, we would have inadvertently created a new era where the words media, technology, advertising, public relations and computer science would mean something entirely different from what most people understand them to be today.

Facebook likely has a better idea of what’s coming, as one can tell from their recent acquisitions, priorities, products and partnerships. I loved the thinking behind snatching Oculus and Whatsapp and Instagram. I’m excited by the power of 360 videos and VR. I supported Instant Articles from day one, even though I understand the concerns of those who vehemently criticize it. There’s a lot more that Facebook is working on, most of them commendable; most of them stuff that governments and the leaders of the respective industries should have been, ideally, driving.

But what I saw yesterday after tempting my Snapchat friends with photos of my six-course dinner in Milan, left a bad taste in my mouth. I had heard earlier in the day that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook was to launch something called Instagram Stories. Smart move, I thought. Reminded me of how Instagram videos came at the point everyone was on Keek’s dick. But when I left Snapchat to catch up with IG, I was shocked to find a copycat of Snapchat right in my face: if you’re a Snapchat user, you know what tapping your camera screen twice does: it switches the camera from front to back. You know what the eye sign says: suggesting who has viewed your snap. You know how to edit your photos and input text in many colours. These basic Snapchat features were what Facebook introduced yesterday on Instagram. I don’t know if there’s a term for it in Silicon Valley. But in the media, it’s called plagiarism. It’s an illegality. A shame. It’s low and dirty and petty and unpardonable.

Google was late to the social media party and is paying dearly for it. We’ve seen what happened to Nokia and Blackberry and Yahoo and others who didn’t see the future early. So I understand Facebook’s determination not to be caught napping. I also understand they may not have broken any laws, but what’s bad is bad, no matter how much filter you use to beautify it.
Facebook has been eyeing what Google had with YouTube for years, and I recall the criticism that trailed their free-for-all approach to videos from 2014. Looking away as copyright infringements thrived on their platform, they just wanted people to post videos natively on Facebook, no matter whose. They even tweaked the algorithm to prioritize native video content over links. They tweaked the algorithm to show us more video in newsfeed. Facebook wanted a seat at the video table. They now have it.

For many years, Facebook became, for many people, the social media app where your father and grand uncle liked your photos and made snide comments on your tattoos. So millennials jumped out in droves and began cavorting with cooler platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat and even Twitter. To win the kids back, Facebook has had to do a lot of things, including Facebook Live – a product designed, in my opinion, to battle Twitter for relevance in live news, and battle Snapchat in live video.

Instagram’s Stories, launched yesterday, is the recent episode, in this battle for users’ photos, videos, time and data, and it would have been popcorn-deserving, if it were not scary. It would have been entertaining if it were not unfunny.

I’ve been told moves like this are not new in the tech industry. My response: it doesn’t make it right, especially for a company owned and run by someone with Zuckerberg’s vision.

Facebook has used new ideas, good thinking and technology to connect over 1.7 billion people in 12 years. I see a future where Facebook.com will be the home page of the internet, winning in media and tech and advertising. It’s bound to happen, whether we like it or not.

Facebook has done, and will have to do a lot to make sure this possibility is not truncated. Bullying every small Organisation to hand over their businesses or get run over is definitely not one of them.

Sadly, for now, Snapchat will have to reinvent itself or die a fast, painful death.

My Favourite websites right now and why you should check them out

Ayenithegreat.ng

It was the New York Times obituary of Elie Wiesel that got me thinking, last week, about the importance of that one final piece of writing that seeks to sum up a person’s entire life and essence.

I read a lot of NYT obituaries (well, I read a lot of NYT!) and was thinking aloud on Twitter, about how one should hope to live long, and accomplish enough, to deserve an NYT obituary, when Tolu Ogunlesi mentions that, actually, only The Economist’s obituaries are ‘to die for’.

So I went and registered on The Economist and began the process of reading myself to stupor.

If you love biographies but rarely find time to read full books, I recommend the obituary sections of NYT and Economist. One of the best ways to know and learn, I have found, is by taking a glimpse into the lives of thinkers and doers, and finding things you never expected to find.

But I’m not always reading profiles and obituaries.

Take a look at Zikoko.com , the interesting website from Big Cabal media.  Yes, I know a certain OMG is trying to position itself as the Buzzfeed of Africa. Good PR move. But the only buzz on the ground here, is from Zikoko. If you’ve been complaining about lazy, unimaginative journalism, about plagiarism and anywhere-belle-face reporting, I suggest you open your (Facebook or Twitter) window and ask your neighbours ‘what is Zikoko’? You’re guaranteed to be converted.

PartyJollof.com , from Red Media, is also going where many failed to go. Young Nigerians are bored and impatient and excitable. They’re increasingly attracted to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram because they’re fun and easy to use. PJ is using this understanding to deliver the kind of content that’ll make even Buzzfeed.com jealous.

If I were to invest my dollars in any websites right now, Zikoko and PartyJollof will definitely be getting that call.

Add Newsroom.ng  to that list. (Disclosure: Newsroom is a BHM website). I rarely visit Nigerian websites for business or political news. Apart from The Punch, I find most human interest journalism here gross and click-baity, so I generally stay away. But I read the pieces on Newsroom, and I see journalism that grips, that seeks to provoke emotions and action; that understands me and the challenges of living in 2016 Nigeria; that seeks to help me and my government know and understand what’s happening, I think of Newsroom and I jump for joy.

The only thing that comes close is The Cable. I’ve liked Simon Kolawole’s style since I was a columnist at THISDAY. You can see, through the investigative journalism, the profiles, the news angles and the decency on The Cable that Simon understands what works. You can tell that, unlike other websites I may not be naming today, there’s likely no hidden agenda behind their journalism. If THISDAY were to even take digital journalism seriously, The Cable would be an amazing teacher.

I hate to admit it. But I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter. I may not say much, but I’m there. Scrolling through news feeds and trying to see the world through the eyes of ‘friends’ I may not speak with for months. Because my life is on-the-go, I find both websites useful for staying informed. Brexit? FB and Twitter told me where to get all the gist. Theresa May and South Sudan and Skye Bank? I found all my leads on FB and Twitter. BlackLivesMatter? Twitter and FB. Also importantly, I’m only able to keep in touch with industry news from PR, advertising, media and entertainment because I have learnt to follow relevant people and set notifications where necessary.

Speaking of PR – the CIPR website is a good place to spend a lot of time. I mean A LOT  OF TIME. It’s what Nigeria’s NIPR should be like when she grows up. IF.

And FT.com is what Nigeria’s Businessday should and could be. Business Day is one of my favourite newspapers here. But I struggle with the (now paywalled) website. FT on the other hand, has been giving me orgasm for years. I may cheat regularly with WSJ.com, I may even browse Bloomberg and elsewhere, but it is not for lack of satisfaction from FT. It is I who cannot keep my kini in one place.

Of course you know of QZ and Vice and HBR? Fantastic!

Whatsapp is not a website so I’ll not be listing it here. But if Zikoko and Newsroom and Facebook and Twitter were to know how much time I spend on Whatsapp, they’ll likely be setting fire to the app’s servers. I dumped BBM for Whatsapp nearly three years ago and it’s the best relationship decision I’ve taken in a while. I hear there are still many of you on BBM, that’s fine. Please stay there before you come and join those people calling Whatsapp ‘wosup’. Sigh.

Can I say Orin, Sabinews, Thenetng and TNS also belong on this list without anyone accusing me of shameless plug? I can’t? Oh, I can? Are you saying I can add them? Or the T in your can’t is just silent? What-ever!

 

 

I’ve been invited to deliver a keynote at Pa Benson Idonije’s 80th

Pa Benson Idonije

Our agency BlackHouse Media is supporting the Benson Idonije at 80 celebrations. And I have been invited by the chief organizer Jahman Anikulapo to deliver a closing keynote on ‘Music forward: Deconstructing and reconstructing’.

I’ve read Pa Idonije for years, and even though I’ve had cause to disagree with him on occasions, concerning his views on contemporary pop music, I do have very high respect for him. His daughter is a friend of sorts, and of course, you’ll recall we gave him a NET Honours in 2015.

Three of his books will be presented, and the ceremony will provide an opportunity for his era and this era to engage in meaningful conversations about yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Pa Idonije's 80th

Idonije is Fela Kuti’s first manager and adviser, a respected radio producer and presenter, columnist for The Guardian, and grand father of Pop act Burna Boy.

I do hope you’re able to attend.

 

I’m speaking at Chris Ihidero’s Story Story next week

atg

I’m speaking, for the second year running, at Chris Ihidero’s Story Story. It’s a closed event for registered participants only, but I will try to record my presentation and share.

I’m passionate about story telling, and determined to work with those working to build capacity and platforms.

I do hope I have as much fun as last year!

atg

How 12 Million People in 12 Countries Discussed How Entertainment Can Save Nigeria’s Economy in 12 Hours

Ayeni-Adekunle-speaking-at-NECLive4

On April 20, 2016, Nigerians came together for the fourth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive 4) to discuss how entertainment can rebuild Nigeria’s wavering economy.

#NECLive4 featured an interesting line-up of professionals not only from the entertainment industry but from all works of life to serve as panelists and moderators who gave insights from the business and creative sides of the entertainment world and how the industry can revamp the economy of Africa’s most populous country.

The 4th edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference, which held at Victoria Island, Lagos was expected to attract about 2,500 Nigerians from different parts of the country.

Between April 19 and April 22, 2016, #NEClive4 drew in over 12,000,000 people online.

Themed Entertainment As Last Hope For Africa’s Largest Economy, the recently concluded #NEClive4 event attracted 2,749 people on site on April 20.

Some of the panelists and moderators that graced the event include CEO 141 Worldwide, Olubunmi Oke, Founder Spot Studio, Sebastian Paszek, Nigerian conceptual designer, Kayode Olowu, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Tony Ojobo, Tiwa Savage, TY Bello, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Kaffy Shafau Ameh, amongst others.

Ayeni Adekunle, founder of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference delivered a welcome address Entertainment as Last Hope for Africa’s Largest Economy.

D’Banj, Banky W and Funke Akindele who were speakers at the event gave intellectual presentations titled Content as the New Crudethe Power of Music & Comedy, and the Economy of Talents respectively.

CEO Braincraft, Olatunde Falase provided an in-depth analysis of Emerging Global Business & Disruptive Models while Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe discussed Case Studies of Intervention Strategies.

In 48 hours, #NEClive4, which was a top trending topic on Twitter, gathered over 62 million impressions on Twitter and Instagram from 1,000 users across Nigeria.

Some of the brands, platforms and individuals who contributed to the #NEClive4 conversation include MTN, The Guardian, Bella Naija, The Cable, This Day, Funke Bucknor-Obruthe, Wofai Ifada amongst others.

Nigeria wasn’t the only country interested in NECLive 4. 11 other countries including Ghana, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Canada, Britain, Iran, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Poland, and U.S.A joined the conference via television and livestream on social media.

The infographic below summarizes NECLive 4 in numbers.

Download the full report here.