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!

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.

‘Entertainment as last hope for Nigeria’s economy’ – My #NECLive4 Speech

Ayeni Adekunle speaking at #NECLive4

I’m happy to welcome you to the fourth Edition of Nigerian Entertainment Conference. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for four years – with the sweat and blood of friends, team members and organizations who are committed to working with us to build the industry of our dreams.

Today as we gather here, we are at a critical period in our existence as a nation. The old issues are still around – epileptic power supply, fuel scarcity, security challenges, bad tools, poor healthcare, unemployment and underemployment, and so much more. And they’re joined by new issues that threaten to drown us. We are battling terrorism, feeling the impact of fallen global oil prices; even as youth continue to search for personal and national identities.

With all these problems and more, why should any government take a minute off and look at the creative industry? Why should we even be discussing entertainment at all when we’re trying to fix roads and kill Boko Haram and increase power supply? Why should anyone besides Ali Baba believe that entertainment business is serious business?

#NECLive4

 

Because as everyone who should know has admitted – it’s time to look at the non-oil sector if we are serious about diversifying our economy. We’ve missed at least two opportunities to diversify, in the face of dwindling income from oil. It will be a disaster if we miss this one.

So if we must look at other means, what are our immediate options? The regular suspects are taxation and agriculture. The government already plans to earn 5 Trillion Naira from taxation in 2016. We’ve seen the power of agriculture from the pre-oil boom era, we’ve seen that, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the value of agriculture in Nigeria is over 100 billion dollars. This is projected to grow to 256 billion dollars by 2030, if that sector is properly harnessed.

Agriculture at #NECLive4

But where are the figures for entertainment? Is it possible that the private and public sectors are underestimating and ‘unlooking’ an industry that can be a top-three earner in a non-oil economy? Is it possible that the creative and entertainment industry may become the last hope for the Nigerian economy?

Here are some facts from Hollywood and Bollywood.

Bollywood-Hollywood comparison at #NECLive4

Here’s what we know about the entertainment industry in Nigeria.

Nollywood Data at #NECLIve

What could the future look like if we made the right investments and build the right systems? What should government do? What should practitioners do? What’s the responsibility of the allied sectors which today, will include telecommunications, brewing, banking, PR and advertising?

I hope everyone here today will be able to have clear answers by the time we leave here this evening.

At Nigerian Entertainment Today, we will continue to follow global best practices in helping consumers connect with the music, news, culture and entertainers they love. We will continue to provide a platform for entertainers and creators to connect with their fans and the brands that care about them. That’s why we started test running Orin.ng in 2015. Today I’m happy to announce that Orin.ng is available to all labels, musicians, DJs, artistes and promoters to upload and share their music to the world. We are giving you an opportunity to stop offering your music for free downloads on Soundcloud and Hulkshare. There are already a couple of platforms with the right technology to sell your music online. Your true fans can find them there – be it Spinlet or MTN Music Plus or Cloud 9. But if they want to listen for free, the way of FM radios, please use Orin.ng. Fans can listen, like and share their favourite songs and videos. We are committed to making sure that we build the largest community of Nigerian music fans in the world. We cannot achieve it without the labels and artistes.

Orin.ng_

I pray God will spare my life to see a day when Nigerian music will no longer be available for free download online.

Also we announce today, the launch of NETSHOP. With over 5 million active users on THENETng we discovered in 2015 that we may be the best place for those selling entertainment products to meet those looking to buy those products. Asa is having her first Nigerian solo concert in May. Where do most of her fans catch up on what’s happening with her? THENETng. Darey is planning for the fourth edition of ‘Love Like A Movie’ . Where’s the best place to get details and buy tickets to see the show? THENETng. We are blurring the lines between journalism and e-commerce, hoping to make it easier for the industry to get their products across to consumers through NETSHOP; and for consumers to access the products, events, and properties they love.

NET SHOP

What I expect is that more people will be encouraged to produce and create if they do not have to bother with how to sell. Of course there will be PR and Marketing support from our sister companies BlackHouse Media and ID Africa, for those who decide to use Orin and NETSHOP.

Finally, we are announcing today, the inauguration of an annual Readers’ Choice Awards, to select one individual worthy to be called ‘Entertainer of The Year’. It will be a big decoration we hope will encourage actors, comedians, musicians, and others, to do the best work possible, while maintaining a great relationship with the fans. ‘Entertainer’ will debut in 2017. NET Honours will also now be given out at this event.

NET-Honors

Since THENETNG debuted on November 23, 2009, we have worked tirelessly to build what we believe will become the world’s number one source of everything you need to know about Nigerian entertainment. Today, 36,000 stories, 6 billion page views, 15 million video views, 5 million users, and 77 months after, I’m happy to say we are firmly positioned to break barriers and build tomorrow.

NET Stories

NET Website

 

 

I believe, as those who know me will agree, that it is possible.

I want to thank you again for coming out. I look forward to having a great time.

Please enjoy the conversations!

Brand of #NECLive4

 

Why NET Is No Longer A Newspaper Company

NET-goes-out-of-print-03

Today, I confirm what many have suspected: the weekly print edition of Nigerian Entertainment Today will no longer be available.

Yes, we are stopping the 16-page newspaper we debuted on April 22, 2010 after 216 editions.

I’m a print man. I worked for newspapers and magazines, gathering bylines from Hip-Hop World Magazine (now also out of print) to Encomium, The Guardian, THISDAY, The Africa Report, The Punch and more.

I love the look and smell of print. I’m still a regular collector of the FT, WSJ and The Times.

Sadly, there’s a narrow future for the print business all over the world.  The situation here in Nigeria is made more scary, because of poor distribution infrastructure, media agencies’ chronic debts, and increasing availability of a faster alternative: everyone now can potentially access news on the go, on their phones or laptops.

In January 2014, disturbed by the circulation and advertising trend I’ve monitored over the past two years, I asked our editorial board for permission to shut down the newspaper and focus on our digital assets (at the time, we only owned thenet.ng). The board convinced me it didn’t make sense to stop.
Part of our differentiation, they unanimously argued, was that we have a popular and credible print asset. People don’t see us as a blog. We can compete with the Big 5. We can attract partnerships and advertising. We can embrace training and conferences and classifieds.

We already started Nigeria Entertainment Conference (NECLive) in 2013 to resounding success. I was convinced our investments should lie in such properties, and other digital assets, not in a weekly paper that’s clearly not scalable.

On August 5, 2015 I wrote the board again, hoping to start another conversation about shutting down the weekly print newspaper.  Advertising revenue was nothing to write home about, agencies were owing for up to two years, sales revenue continued to dwindle, even after we doubled cover price. The paper was everywhere. But the figures didn’t look good.

Nearly everyone wrote back, agreeing it was time to nail the coffin.


Before my August pitch, we had already launched our human-interest site newsroom.ng, we had been test running our music site orin.ng for four months, we had seen our lifestyle platform star.ng off to a good start. Our TV platform, which launched in March had already pushed out 1000 videos and recorded over 2 million views on Youtube and Facebook. The team didn’t need any further convincing that our model needed this adjustment; that the future of our business can be guaranteed only by our investment in visual content, better story telling and a pool of digital assets that can meet the needs of those we care about.

How do they want the content? Why do they want it? Where do they want it? When? What exactly do they want?

I was a young boy around 1996-1997 when I first dreamt of publishing a newspaper.  When in 2005 I started shopping for financiers to start an entertainment newspaper, my belief was that it’s possible to do a very good paper Nigerians cannot do without. A paper that will reach millions daily and redefine what people consider entertainment or celebrity journalism.

Shame we did not come close to doing a daily, not to talk of having a paper that reached millions.
On the best days, we had circulation reaching 7,000 to 10,000. Most weeks, we could barely sell 3,000 copies.

Meanwhile, our website thenet.ng continued to show promise, despite a 2013 hacking and eventual domain loss that set us back remarkably.  Our visitors (especially returning ones) and pageviews have quadrupled over the past year alone. Through our website and social assets (FB, IG and Twitter) we were reaching more people daily than the paper could in 10 editions. Six month figures for April – September 2015 shows thenet.ng reached over 50 million users on the website, FB, IG, Youtube and Twitter. We’ve seen revenue growth surpass 300% in the past year alone.

Then someone told me: Perhaps it’s time you redefine ‘newspaper’ and take it that your dream of having a medium that’ll reach millions of Nigerians daily is already being accomplished?

Then the truth hit me. Although in the past year alone, the likes of The News, PM News, Entertainment Express, Sunday Express, Y!, and more have gone off print, most of them continue to have heavy influence online. The Express titles and PM News in particular have shown, with the rapid growth of their websites, that it was a wise, decision to shed off excess weight.

At a time when journalists are no longer influencing readers the way bloggers are, when there are over 70 million Nigerians on the internet and over 18 million of them actively using FB, Twitter and IG combined; when the language of news has moved from just text, to include memes, audio visuals, skits, info graphics, GIFs, and all, the right thing for us to do is to understand that today’s newspapers and magazines are no longer being read in news print. They are being consumed on mobile phones, on tablets, and on computers. Being ‘read’ on screens by an involved generation that wants to, according to The Economist, curate, create, and consume.

This understanding (and of course, that of the board) is why we have focused all investments this year on assets like Newsroom, Orin, Star, and thenet.ng. It’s why we are looking into television and biographies and e-commerce.

It is why we no longer call ourselves a newspaper company. To be sure: we will continue to dabble into print, as you’ve seen with the NET Book Series and the presentation, yesterday, of ‘A Very Good Bad Guy: The Story of Innocent 2face Idibia’. There’ll be occasional special publications: for example, our Encyclopedia of Nigerian Entertainment, which is already in the works.

Also good to note, that we’re not downsizing. In fact we are currently looking for a news editor, a comedy writer, cartoonist and a couple of developers.

The future looks good, interesting, in many ways you can’t imagine.

May we live in interesting times!…