War Against Public Relations

PRCAN

Chido Nwakanma was still president of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria when we sat in my office at BlackHouse Media in 2014.

Chido Nwakamah

Chido Nwakamah

BHM, where I’m CEO, was launching Nigeria’s first mobile application in the PR industry and Nwakanma attended with the association’s excos John Ehiguese, Muyiwa Akintunde, and others. As we demonstrated and tested the app, one question appeared consistent: how did we plan to get the right information, in a country where the PR market was shrouded in so much secrecy?

One year later, our industry has opened up a bit. A late 2014 survey gave us an idea of who’s billing what. Journalists have more information about accounts’ movement and pitches. Many agencies are now providing campaign case studies on-the-go. The industry is opening up to affiliation and collaboration and PR agencies here are beginning to use their own medicine.

But while that is happening, there appears to be a sustained assault on the industry. The perpetrators? Those whose job is to protect and develop public relations; those who profit from the profession; those who deeply need the industry.

Some of these people know what they’re doing. Others have no idea.

As I have noted repeatedly, the public relations industry has been at best disappointing. While many complain about everything there is to complain about, it is often my style to look at what we did wrong in the past 20 years. Top on the list is that fact that we did not embrace technology early. Information and communication technology has transformed the way humans interact. As public relations professionals, we should have been at the forefront of big data science, of social media, of location and habit mapping. We should have been the pioneers of digital marketing and experience design and branded story telling.

If you do not disrupt yourself, then you must get ready to be disrupted. It happened to the search industry, happened to media and photography. It’s happened to computing and mobile messaging. It happened to advertising. And now, as the transportation and telecommunications industries face unprecedented disruptions, public relations itself is undergoing an assault by new ideas and tools. New technology has ensured that every industry today must innovate or die.

The Kardashians

The Kardashians

Newspapers are now playing catch up with blogs and websites. Telcos are being forced to rethink their business model because of obvious threats from Facebook and co. Google built a global advertising business while ad giants were snoring. The Kardashians are launching bestselling apps and engaging millions of millenials without breaking a sweat. Taxi associations are grumbling as Uber makes a mess of tradition and reinvents an entire industry. Apple, which itself disrupted the music industry with the introduction of iTunes, was a late comer to the party as Spotify, Deezer and Soundcloud changed the way we consume music. Netflix? You know the story of the disruption that took down Blockbuster. You know of how Blogger and WordPress gave everyone the power to be an online publisher and how that impacted traditional news brands. You know of how the Android OS caused a revolution that took down more than a few mobile phone companies.

As the global public relations industry faces the biggest threat in decades, many insiders are admitting that indeed, PR is Dead. Writing in his book of the same title, Robert Phillips, a former Edelman executive says, “PR has run out of options and has missed its moment to lead. It is in terminal decline. About to be overrun and overwhelmed by the age of data, PR today is to communications what analogue was to digital at the turn of the century.”

This was my exact position, when I met with staff of X3M Ideas, a Lagos communications group recently. My exact position when I addressed participants at the African Public Relations Association conference in 2014.

X3M Ideas

These admissions are not to nail the coffin on the profession and move on to something else. Rather it is information to help us understand what has happened so we can adapt and survive. We have since killed the press release. We are making measurement more scientific and using storytelling in better ways than ever. We are investing in data and tech and redefining the kind of talents that make up an agency.

In Africa, where the PR industry is hitherto traditional and conservative, dominated by press agentry, practitioners are dumping old habits and moving into the future. Many agencies are staffing web developers and programmers; designers and editors, as well as community managers and influencers. One Nigerian agency is employing psychologists while another has put out an advert for in-house comedian.

And those who matter have noticed. There’s a renewed client and employer trust, as evidenced by a 2014 PRCAN survey. There is a surge in the number of young undergraduates interested in working in PR, and an interesting increase in the number of foreign agencies interested in doing business here. In Nigeria, the country with Africa’s highest GDP, highest Internet penetration and highest population, at least two affiliations have been announced in the past six months. Burson-Marsteller has partnered with a leading Nigerian agency, CMC Connect while Fleishman Hillard only recently signed an affiliation with Mediacraft Associates LTD. Bell Pottinger has collaborated on project with BlackHouse Media while Edelman last week paid a working visit to Sesema PR in Lagos.

the-Nigerian-Institute-of-Public-Relations-nipr1-300x167

As the quality of service is improving and new ideas are helping the profession rebound, regulators Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) are working to step up industry governance, kick out quacks, provide resources for training and development, and ensure certified practitioners in public service achieve chartered status like their colleagues in accounting, human resources and medicine.

But I suspect recent happenings may make all the work of the past few years come to naught. Foreign agencies are opening shop in Nigeria without recourse to NIPR or PRCAN. Those who are not physically here are getting and executing briefs from their base in Europe and America. Public and Private organizations are patronizing PR staff and agencies not certified to practice by NIPR, nor accredited by PRCAN.

There is a good precedent in what Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) andAdvertising Agencies Association of Nigeria (AAAN) have done. No foreign agency can currently practice advertising in Nigeria without 75% local ownership. No advertising agency can do business without an AAAN membership certificate (registration fee is at least N750, 000).

The recently formed Experiential Marketers Association (EXMAN) is as we speak, setting up policies and procedures to sanitize and regulate their practice, hoping to curb falling standards and ensure a system that can help clients tell the difference between quacks and professionals.

Since our agency BHM was inducted into PRCAN on November 23, 2013, I have been part of several meetings where standards have been discussed. The association has spent time engaging with clients and employers, travelling round the world to see what is happening elsewhere, partnering with Holmes Report, ICCO, APRA, etc for training, data exchange and resources, while developing a masterclass programme that continues to receive praise.

Former-PRCAN-president-Nnemeka-Maduegbuna-Ayeni-Adekunle-and-Vice-President-John-Ehiguese-300x200

NIPR was established in 1963, and chartered in 1990 by Decree No 16 to regulate the practice of public relations and monitor professional conducts through an established code of ethics and professional conduct regime. The law stipulates standard academic and professional qualifications for admission into the institute. A 22-man governing council elects the president every two years.

PRCAN was established by an NIPR byelaw of 1993. The association was also registered as a not-for-profit organization in 2007. Just like NIPR, PRCAN was set up to promote the professional practice of public relations in Nigeria.

As both organizations work to ensure that individuals and organizations that are not certified do not parade themselves as professionals, there has been a vehement attack on both bodies and their executives, by those – as I said earlier – who should be working to develop an industry from which they profit.

Having followed the discussions around NIPR and PRCAN’s letters to Guinness Nigeria and MTN requesting they do not work with non-accredited agencies, and having followed media reports on the matter, I am convinced the reputation of our entire industry is being dragged in the mire, by this unnecessary campaign. NIPR and PRCAN are not being unrealistic in their stand that having won PR accounts already; the agencies concerned must regularize their papers with the associations. The request, I am assured by PRCAN excos, is not for their contracts to be terminated, but for them to do what is appropriate and sort out relevant memberships. I do not think it is too much to ask from agencies actually working in public relations and representing clients who themselves mostly identify with relevant associations – be it NIPR or APCON or PRCAN.

To do otherwise, and instead embark on a war against NIPR and PRCAN is, to put it mildly, bite the finger that’s feeding you.

We have bigger battles to fight as an industry. It’s time to get together and put in the work required to guarantee our future. If we continue to put personal interests, ego, and sentiments ahead of the industry’s interest, it will remain impossible for us to build the kind of ecosystem that can ensure PR does not die a painful death.

Steve Babaeko: 20 YEARS OF INSPIRATION

Ayeni Adekunle, Ayo Animashaun & Steve Babaeko

Spent Monday evening at the BHM Lounge, in company of some of the brightest minds around, as we gathered to celebrate the founder of X3M Group Steve Babaeko.

SB had announced last week that September 1 made it 20 years since he ventured into advertising.

As we shared hot amala and orisirisi; with canapés and cognac and cocktails, everyone spoke about the power of Steve’s imagination;  about the determination and drive that got him here. Everyone agreed this gentleman that arrived in Lagos broke and hopeless changed his life and his story by doing the work- from artiste management to equipment leasing, to copywriting and music.

Music gave him the fame; advertising gave him a career and much more.

Steve Babaeko

Steve Babaeko

But it’s the inspiration – the one that pushes him; the one he gives to others even when he doesn’t try, that gave him a name.

That name may be what his parents gave him. But it’s no longer a basic nomenclature for a random guy from Kabba in Kogi state. That name now belongs to a trusted brand that’s fulfilling a promise: that Nigerian advertising can be great again; that copy writers and creative directors can build a business too; that you can make it if you dare. That an agency CEO can sag his pants and wear Giuseppe Zanotti . The promise (and message) that everything you want is chilling on the other side of fear.

The full story of Steve Babaeko will be told someday soon.

Happy anniversary, boss.

Kelvin Orifa, Steve Babaeko & Toni Kan

Kelvin Orifa, Steve Babaeko & Toni Kan

Kelvin Orifa, Steve Babaeko & Ayo Animashaun

Kelvin Orifa, Steve Babaeko & Ayo Animashaun

Ayeni Adekunle with Yetunde Babaeko

With Yetunde Babaeko

Modenine with Steve Babaeko & Yetunde Babaeko

Jonah the Monarch, Modenine with Yetunde & Steve Babaeko

Steve Babaeko,  Ayo Animashaun & Ayeni Adekunle

With Steve Babaeko & Ayo Animashaun

Ayeni Adekunle & TEE A

With Tee A

Chris Ihidero

Chris Ihidero

Ayeni Adekunle, Ayo Animashaun, Steve Babaeko

 

Where Will You Be At 12noon Today? In The Grave?

Yemisi Agare Aiyenuyo

I hope not.

I wish you long life, with good health and all the blessings you desire and deserve.

But my friend Yemisi Agare Aiyenuyo can no longer have any of those.

My friend from University of Ibadan; my friend from Agbowo and Awo Hall; my friend Yemisi will never have long life. Never have all these things you pray and wish for.

 

At 12 O’Clock today, September 10, 2015, my friend Yemisi will be in the grave. Lowered six feet below, as the preacher reads those verses I’ve now become too familiar with.

At 12 O’Clock today, as you prepare to have your lunch, my friend’s husband and friends and siblings will be pouring dust on her casket.

My friend Yemisi is dead.

DEAD.

 

Today, I will not tell the story of how I met her through another amazing friend Ngozi Abamba. I will not tell the story of all the mischief of UI. Not telling the story of Yemisi’s kindness and generousity; of unpaid loans and unending favours.

I shall not bother you with a story today.

 

Maybe tomorrow when the pallbearers and pastors and preachers and mourners are gone.

Maybe tomorrow when my tears have dried and I can see clearer.

Maybe tomorrow when I’m awake and accept that my friend Yemisi is dead.

DEAD.

 

Today?

I’ll just smile. Smile like my friend Yemisi.

She’s dead. How about you?

Yemisi Agare Aiyenuyo

Yemisi Agare Aiyenuyo

BHM Boss Ayeni Adekunle To Speak At Success Stories Africa Conference

Ayeni Adekunle1croped

BHM Group President, Ayeni Adekunle has been announced as lead speaker at Success Stories Africa Conference 2015 holding on Saturday 12 September 2015 in Lagos.

The respected writer and entrepreneur, who is also the founder of digital agency ID Africa, entertainment website TheNETNG and music platform Orin, is an in-demand public speaker with a wealth of business and lifestyle tips to share. Ayeni, who founded his first business at 17 has spoken at a number of high profile events including the recent Junior Chamber International (JCI) Lagos City Monthly Business Meeting With Entrepreneurs, Project Fame West Africa 2015 Image and Personal Branding Master Class and the African Public Relations Association (APRA) 2014 Conference in Mauritius.

Speaking on the topic, ‘The Making of BHM Group’ and in the course of developing this theme, he will share his life’s story highlighting key encounters, lessons, habits, people and principles that have shaped who he is today. By telling his personal success story to a diverse audience of young Nigerians engaged in different fields of endeavour, he hopes to help those present to find their way and achieve success in life.

Speaking recently, he commented, “I am always happy to share stories and ideas that can possibly make the journey easier for people trying to find their way.

Aimed at empowering African youths to enable them change their lives for the better, the conference themed ‘Buy The Future’, will also feature addresses from other media personalities including CEO Red Media Africa Chude Jideonwo, actress Monalisa Chinda, CEO AGDC Detoun Ogwo and Founder Omojuwa.com Japheth Omojuwa.

About Ayeni Adekunle

Ayeni is a Nigerian Public Relations practitioner, Journalist and businessman. He is the founder of Black House Media, a Public Relations firm, and ID Africa, a digital marketing agency. He is also the founder and publisher of Nigerian Entertainment Today (NET), which organises the annual Nigerian Entertainment Conference and Orin, a music platform. He attended the University of Ibadan where he graduated with a BSc in Microbiology. Often referred to in Nigerian media circles as ‘Ayeni The Great’ or ‘ATG’, Ayeni lives in Lagos and is happily married with two children.

To read more about Ayeni click here

 

I Will Be Speaking At 2015 Success Stories Africa Conference

Ayeni Adekunle

I’m speaking at Success Stories Africa Conference 2015 holding on Saturday 12 September 2015 in Lagos.

 “It gives me joy to share stories and ideas that can possibly make the journey easier for people trying to find their way.”

Aimed at empowering African youths to enable them change their lives for the better, the conference themed ‘Buy The Future’, will also feature addresses from other speakers including Chude JideonwoMonalisa Chinda, Detoun Ogwo and Japheth Omojuwa.

Ayeni Adekunle S

My chat with Project Fame contestants (tips as suggested by my friends on Twitter and Facebook)

Project Fame West Africa

So I spent sometime at the PFWA academy on Tuesday.

My job was to advise contestants on how to manage fame, public relations, and business.

And I shaped the discussion around over 30 tips I received earlier in the day from my followers on Twitter and my friends on Facebook.

You too can join the conversation:

What would you tell 14 young musicians in search of fame and fortune? What do they need to know as they prepare for an industry as unstable and plastic as the music business?!

Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame West Africa MTN Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame West Africa Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame Project Fame Project Fame Facebook Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame Project Fame PFWA Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project Fame West Africa Project Fame Project fame Project Fame Project Fame

Artist PR, Fame and Success Management

Interview: Media Consumers Now Have More Power Than Before – Ayeni

ID Africa

By Funsho Arogundade (The News Nigeria)

 

In this interview with FUNSHO AROGUNDADE, the young media entrepreneur fondly called “Ayeni The Great” gives a rare peek into digital marketing agency ID Africa, his latest business venture, which will see a spread of the BHM Group’s clientele and content across more nations on the African continent

Q: How did BHM Group begin?

A: BHM Group started in 2006, while I was still a reporter, from my two-bedroom flat in Akute (Lagos). My wife and I had no furniture so I bought a small chair and table, and could only afford to pay someone to assemble a computer. We started out working for musicians, actors and record labels that had smaller budgets, so it was tough but fulfilling work.

A few years later, my friend Ayo Animashaun (owner of Hip TV and The Headies) gave me a desk in his office from where BHM operated. Eventually, we had to rent our own office space and today we have 60 employees and various consultants across the world. In 2009 we began working for corporate clients, and they tapped into the experience we had built with entertainers and young people. It has never happened in Nigeria that an organisation with experience solely in entertainment – working for artistes and actors – to begin working for various multinationals. That’s our story and we are proud of it.

Ayeni Adekunle1croped

Q: You recently launched ID Africa, a digital agency and subsidiary of the BHM Group? What do you hope to achieve?

A: With Digital Marketing, disparate uptake rates exist. Brands across regions in Africa are very late to the party, while those trying to get into the party are not in the appropriate attire; I mean they are not using the right tools to speak to, or listen to the people. Africa is a continent of up to 2,000 languages from numerous tribes, with over 1 billion people becoming increasingly globalised, yet retaining the peculiarities that categorise their individual heritages – the status quo is changing. We all know that the latest arrivals to a party can still make the atmosphere electric, so this is an opportunity for practitioners.

We are fortunate to have an extensive understanding, based on our PR background, about people who consume and publish content on the Internet. We know what they are looking for, so we have an understanding of how to use that social space better to create the kind of conversations that can help people meet each other and have a nice time, whether it’s a brand meeting the consumer or just consumers interacting, or even brands needing to engage with each other.

ID Africa is the digital agency that can make this happen because it is not just a service agency; more of Africa’s audiences need to be communicated with and listened to via channels and outlets that best conform to their social, cultural and personal proclivities.

Q: So, what are your experiences as you roll out ID Africa with more continental clients?

A: I cannot divulge research data we have obtained at prohibitive costs, but I will share some insights.

A: To successfully communicate with the diverse audiences and demographics that constitute Africa’s cities and navigate the sociocultural nuances therein, all brands- entertainment or corporate- must treat the term media very loosely. If I can get on a Mutatu in Nairobi or a Danfo in Lagos and speak to 50 passengers, and try to get them to try or understand my new product, then that bus as far as ID Africa is concerned, is as valid a media vehicle as social media is in Johannesburg.

 

Read full interview on thenewsnigeria.com.ng