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!

‘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

 

Using Our Own Medicine – My speech at the Public Presentation of Nigeria PR Report

Ayeni Adekunle at first ever annual Nigeria PR Report unveil

 

Something happened in 2015.

 

A poor 72-year-old, unpopular, retired army-general ran to be president of Nigeria, an oil-rich West African country with population of about 200 million people.

 

His opponent, the incumbent, was a 57-year-old Ph.D. who, three years earlier while he was VP, was so popular and favoured that influential citizens marched the streets protesting, when it appeared some powerful interests were determined to prevent him from becoming president after it was clear his boss, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had passed on.

 

That election, to elect the 15th president of Nigeria, finally held on March 28 and 29, 2015.

 

But it had been won and lost months before. Won by General Muhammadu Buhari of the Action Congress of Nigeria who comparatively, had little money and plenty obstacles, but deployed an almost-excellent political strategy and reputation management.

 

The defeated sitting president as we have since discovered, had limitless access to funds and other resources. But his campaign strategy was lousy. As lousy as some of the people who were the faces and voices of his re-election project.

 

One party found a big idea (Change) and rode with it. The other was hijacking a campaign to bring back kidnapped schoolgirls from Chibok, a little town in Borno, South-eastern Nigeria. One party proactively used research data to develop PR strategies for youth and citizen engagement, the other, as we also have now seen, used cash and mercenaries and sophistry, until the last minute.

 

Buhari was a mean military dictator, despised by many discerning Nigerians. He was an old, eighties man who, as many agree, was out of touch with the tools and trends required to transform a paralyzed country like Nigeria. Yet about 15,424,921 million Nigerians in 36 states voted for him to return as president, defeating his young, ‘better educated’, rich and powerful opponent by a 2,571,759 margin.

 

It’s not fiction.

 

The role of public relations in politics and governance in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. The ‘Buhari-GEJ’ story would have been remarkable if it were rare. Yet if you look deeply into the affairs of the private and public sectors in Nigeria and indeed elsewhere across Africa, what presents, is an increasing intervention by PR to help communities and organizations and governments solve problems they thought were insurmountable. In Buhari’s case, he had contested and lost three times in 12 years.

Panel

 

In 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin completed an orbit of the earth, effectively becoming the first man in space. If there had been no records of the event, if there were no pictures taken and circulated, no reports made, did he really make the trip? Did he accomplish the feat?

 

A historic moment becomes myth, fable even, if there are no evidence and facts to support claims and silence sceptics. Who here will call a party to celebrate a child’s excellent result without first laying hands on the report card?

 

There’s little data, if any, on the role of public relations in the last national elections. Little data, if any, on how in-house PR teams and external consultancies are helping local and international brands make sense out of a chaotic business environment like Nigeria. You will go very far to see case studies on all the great work I’m aware have been done by Nigerian professionals on brands like Wole Soyinka, MTN Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries, Dangote, Indomie, Etisalat, GTBank and Airtel.

 

We complain regularly that the quality of our work can be better. We excuse clients’ lack of trust and investment with the belief that we really haven’t shown value. But how do we get better if we do not have records of the work we do – the good, the bad and the ugly? How do we train beginners? How do we engage globally, in a space where the lingua franca is billings and case studies?

 

The global PR Agency industry revenue is put at over $13 billion. I can assure you Nigeria, which by BHM estimates, makes over $68.75 million, is not in that calculation.

 

We all know why.

 

That’s why our company BlackHouse Media created the campaign #PrisDead in 2015. That’s why we decided, after relevant consultations, to begin this hopefully annual report on the Nigeria public relations industry.

Public Presentation of Nigeria PR Report

Of course it’s inspired by The Holmes Report’s World PR Report, which, I hope, starting 2016, will begin to feature great Nigerian agencies doing amazing work.

 

We have a lot to do, to make that happen. We have even more to do, to accomplish our dreams of increased billing, attracting and retaining super talents, and becoming big regional and global players.

 

The ball is in our court.

 

It is possible

Presentation of Nigeria PR Report

Download Nigeria PR Report 2015 for free on AmazoniTunes and on the BlackHouse Media website.

PR Is Dead

DSC_6188-Copy1-960x550_c

It’s 2015.

It’s July 9, and almost 50 workers at BlackHouse Media, a public relations agency in Lagos, Nigeria are out of patience waiting for June salaries.

A week earlier, the finance team sent a mail to all staff, explaining the delay and promising payment in one week. It’s the first time in many years that the eight year old agency is failing to pay salaries on time.

BlackHouse Media, a member of BHM Group, is by Nigerian definitions a successful agency. It works for two multi-nationals, including the country’s biggest brewer; it works for media giants and has a digital advantage over every competitor in the market. In 2014, the company launched Nigeria’s first PR application, and recorded over 1 billion social media impressions for client campaigns. One year later, it launched its own digital agency, ID Africa.

BHM Group Staff

BHM Group

BlackHouse Media is not struggling. But while staff salaries were only delayed for one week in June (after a cash flow hitch), the same cannot be said for a lot of other agencies in its category.

According to a 2015 survey, only a handful of public relations agencies in Nigeria are able to pay staff and contractors as at when due. A lot of old and new generation agencies are struggling to make ends meet in a market when creative agencies, digital marketing companies and media independents are making a kill.

Why is this so?

Many in the industry believe it is because agencies cannot charge much. Only a few get good budgets and are on retainers.
As a result, only few can keep great talent. The flight from PR into advertising or client side is at an all time high; most of the agencies surveyed have lost senior consultants in the past year.

Only few can do great work.

PR is rarely in the room when management is planning or when the government is strategizing. When we do get called, it is often for traditional media relations or to ‘manage’ press events.

PR Is Dead

Clients complain they do not get value at the level of strategy; that they do not get help navigating social media; that they do not see creativity and innovation, especially in storytelling and community management.

Agencies lament on the frustration in not being properly compensated; not having access to senior management. They complain about phony pitches, poaching and government’s failure at regulation.

Nigeria’s federal government continues to engage services of quacks for public relations roles even as many public and private organizations regularly engage unregistered foreign agencies to do PR work in Nigeria.

Many of the so-called big agencies cannot pay competitive wages, and in recent times, several have owed up to three months’ pay.

Pundits say creative and media agencies are not immune to these problems. Reports say only a handful of agencies in that segment are running profitably.

The difference? You can identify the big media accounts based on spend. You can understand why some agencies are getting lucrative creative briefs while others are idle. There are more than a few media, events and creative agencies turning over billions of Naira annually from one-offs, commissions or retainer works. There is, at this moment, none in PR.

BHM Media & Intelligence predicts that more agencies will see revenues dwindle if client trust is not restored, if the industry is not able to re- attract super talents. And these will only happen if the practice is able to resurrect.

Yes, PR is dead.

What exactly do we bring to the table that clients and their publics cannot do without? The current system of press releases, buzz words and other fluff?

PR Statistics

Nigeria has a population estimated at about 200 million. Most of these are young people spread round rural, semi-urban and urban areas.

As at March 2015, there was an estimate of 195 million active mobile phones in Nigeria with GSM subscriber base of 144,486,786. Nigeria has the highest Internet penetration rate in Africa with an annual growth of about 4 million.

ID Africa Stats

Our country has over 7 million people on Facebook and is considered one of the top five African countries with the most Twitter activityAlso, the adoption of other platforms like WeChat, Whatsapp and Instagram is growing rapidly.

Newspaper circulation will predictably continue to drop. Some of the country’s biggest titles have cut print runs consistently; several have shut down presses while others have completely gone off the stands. In a country where media relations is a core function for most PR professionals, how will this impact on our work?

More consumers are spending more time on their phones than in front of the TV. Media platforms are rapidly redefining themselves and aligning with consumer habits.

Brands are using storytelling and content marketing to engage their consumers. Many consumers are becoming content creators and publishers in their own rights – be it through their Facebook status updates or by expressing strong opinions on Twitter. Some of the biggest media and influencer jobs of the past two years in terms of income and impact have been by individuals on social media; individuals who may never have been considered ‘media’ only a few years ago. Some of them are so powerful that the Nigerian government has nicknamed them ‘cabal’.

But where are the PR people?

What do these figures mean?

It is time we shamed those who believe “PR will never take its long-coveted seat at the boardroom table, where it will be recognized as an essential component of strategic business rather than a bolt-on” (Phillip 2015, 11).

Why My New Company Is A Big Deal

I.D PIX4

It’s 6AM in Lagos, Nigeria.

I’m sitting at my desk, looking back at the past few years of my life. I haven’t had much sleep, haven’t seen my kids in two days. I’m wearing the same clothes from yesterday.

But I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m actually grateful. 

It’s 6AM on February 27, 2015 – just about 11 years after I left the University of Ibadan with a third class degree. Just 11 years ago, when I was a hospital reject, a homeless and unemployable ‘graduate’.

It’s 6AM on February 27, 2015. Eight years and 14 days since I officially left paid employment.  I remember the day on February 13, 2007, my dad’s 63rd birthday, when I looked my boss in the face and said ‘actually, sir, I don’t think I want to work here anymore’.

It’s 6AM on Friday February 27, 2015, eight years and three months since I started what is now known as BHM. By now, I’m sure everyone knows the story of how we started with zero Naira, how we squatted for years and used my wife’s salary to run the business.

I.D PIX3

It’s 6AM on Friday February 27, 2015, over three years since we crossed the $1m mark (yes, a big deal, for a little Lagos agency), nearly five years since we started our second business (Nigerian Entertainment Today) and the day we officially launch our third – ID Africa – a sexy company that will introduce new ways of helping brands and consumers use social tools to connect with those they care about.

Continue reading…

Debating Nigeria’s Future

IMG_4522

Interesting conversations going on about the general elections in Nigeria.

MTV Base facilitated a roundtable discussion that featured great minds from Omojuwa to Banky W.

You have seen MO Abudu’s interviews with the two leading candidates here. Gubernatorial aspirants have hosted endless sessions. But the Presidential debate that could have helped many make up their minds failed to hold, following a last minute pull out.

Quite sensitive time for my country and I believe no matter how much we want to sit on the fence, we all need to take a stand.

I have shared my views here in case you are wondering where I stand.

But then tomorrow remains uncertain…

Ayeni Adekunle & Sound Sultan at MTV Base Choose Or Lose Roundtable

Ayeni Adekunle & Sound Sultan at MTV Base Choose Or Lose Roundtable

The Business of Creativity

Ayeni Adekunle was a speaker at the Network Conference 2014 that held on October 7th, 2014.

Had fun speaking with creative professionals from diverse backgrounds two weeks ago in Lagos.

 

Always appreciate an opportunity to chat with brilliant minds, especially young people keen to challenge the status quo.

Continue reading…