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.

#PRisdead: Setting a foundation for the #RiseofPR

PR Is Dead

I agree that PR is dead…

But death is not always a bad thing. At times it gives us an opportunity to reflect, re-invent… a second chance to do this right.

That’s why we invited stakeholders to BHM Group on October 6, 2015 to discuss the life and times of PR.

It wasn’t just to mourn the #DeathofPublicRelations, but a time of reflection, a time to set a road map for not just the #RiseofPR, but also the ‘Future of PR‘.

The conversation continues HERE

 Yomi Badejo Okusanya

Welcoming My Big brother Yomi Badejo Okusanya

CEO, CMC Connect, Yomi Badejo Okusanya addressing guests

CEO, CMC Connect, Yomi Badejo Okusanya addressing guests

Corporate Media and Brand PR Manager NIgerian Breweries, Edem Vindah and APRA Coordinator, Kayode Yeku

Corporate Media and Brand PR Manager Nigerian Breweries, Edem Vindah and APRA Coordinator, Kayode Yeku

CEO, CMC Connect, Yomi Badejo Okusanya with CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko

Funsho Arogundade, Y.B.O with Steve Babaeko

Rendering a speech on 'War Against Public Relations'

Rendering a speech on ‘War Against Public Relations’

CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle with CEO, CMC Connect,  Yomi Badejo Okusanya &  CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko

With Y.B.O & Steve Babaeko

Nseobong Okon-Ekong with Steve Babaeko

Deputy Editor, ThisDay, Nseobong Okon-Ekong with CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko

With Yomi Badejo Okusanya, Steve Babaeko & Tosin Ajibade

With Yomi Badejo Okusanya, Steve Babaeko & Tosin Ajibade

PR Is Dead Service of Songs

With Y.B.O, Steve Babaeko & Kayode Yeku

With Staff of CMC Connect

With the ladies from CMC Connect

With YBO, Steve Babaeko, Kayode Yeku & Bolaji Akerele

PR Is Dead Service Of Songs

With Yomi Badejo Okusanya & Tosin Ajibade

Tosin Ajibade With Yomi Badejo Okusanya

Tosin Ajibade With Yomi Badejo Okusanya

Anita Aiyudu (@anitaaiyudu), Lateefah Adesanya (@that1960chick) and Tosin Ajibade (@olorisupergal)

(L-R) Anita Aiyudu (@anitaaiyudu), Lateefah Adesanya (@that1960chick) and Tosin Ajibade (@olorisupergal)

Editor, Brand Crunch, Lekan Babatunde (L) and Corporate Communications Consultant Henry Ekechukwu (R)

Editor, Brand Crunch, Lekan Babatunde (L) and Corporate Communications Consultant Henry Ekechukwu (R)

(L-R) Corporate Communications Consultant Henry Ekechukwu, Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; CEO, BHM Group, Ayeni Adekunle; CEO CMC Connect, Yomi Badejo Okusanya; CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko & Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan

(L-R) With Corporate Communications Consultant Henry Ekechukwu, Chairman of SabiNews, Niran Adedokun; CEO CMC Connect, Yomi Badejo Okusanya; Managing Editor SabiNews, Peju Akande; CEO, X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko & Managing Partner SabiNews, Toni Kan

Lateefah Adesanya, Nseobong Okon-Ekong & Tosin Ajibade

(L-R) Lateefah Adesanya, Nseobong Okon-Ekong & Tosin Ajibade

PR Is DeadPR Is Dead Service of Songs

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Inside Nigeria’s PR Industry of Brown Envelopes, Press Releases and Quacks

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Honoraria. Flava. Keske. T-fare. Brown Envelope.

These are just some of the code names by which cash exchange for editorial coverage is known in Nigeria.

In a country where there are over 50 newspapers and magazines on the newsstands, hundreds of radio and TV stations, and an ocean of blogs and websites, it is no surprise that the media environment is industrious.

Everyone wants to be in the media – politicians, motivational speakers, consumers, brands, entertainers, pastors, even bankers, fraudsters and climbers.

To be frank, only few deserve coverage, but in a country where a tabloid journalist earns less than $100 per month, where most newspapers owe up to six months’ salaries, and TV stations pay tokens for wages, it is no surprise that the numbers of reporters and editors patronizing their subjects have been increasing.

Some of the busiest journalists are freelance agents; securing advert placements, planting news and features in their journals, managing celebrities and consulting for banks and politicians. Many of their bosses are aware of these activities – if not equally guilty.

According to a May 2015 report by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, about 9 Nigerian newspapers owed salaries up to 18 months.

Journalists protest against ThisDay over non-payment of salaries

The media scene is a mess and the public relations industry in Nigeria is a beneficiary. Driven by a news conference and press release culture, PR pros in these parts have mastered how to speak the language of envelopes. For decades, they have connived with poorly remunerated reporters and struggling publishers to fill papers and magazines with promotional content that scarcely catches the interest of the readers.

There are now about 50 agencies registered with Public Relations Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), the body recognized by government to regulate PR consultancy in Nigeria. Yet, there are hundreds more, practicing in every sector, without certification by NIPR or PRCAN.

A 2015 BHM Survey estimates that around 1,900 press releases are issued per day in Nigeria. Most of these are from politicians, corporate organizations and celebrities.

Journalists on every beat are bombarded with emails and phone calls requesting priority. Usually, only those from ‘friendly’ sources make it into the pages in consequence of bank alerts, gifts and promises. Most of the time, the press releases are announcing a new product, countering a report, promoting a new artiste, or an event.

In 2013, three top 10 agencies paid out over $250,000. One year after, the figure could have quadrupled for each of these agencies.

Meanwhile, newspaper sales continue to drop at an alarming rate. At least, five print publications – The News, Entertainment Express, Sunday Express, PM News, Y!,- have gone under in the past year; many have reduced frequency of publication while others are shutting down presses and cutting staff. After publishing for five years, Nigerian Entertainment Today is shutting down its weekly print edition to focus fully on digital operations.

PR agencies are not doing any better. Many are unable to keep senior staff due to poor remuneration. Salaries are owed regularly – a sad reality for an industry that pays less than half what advertising pays. Just as it is in the media, some of the brightest talents in PR have fled, in search of better packages.

The verdict is clear – consumers don’t care about press releases. Consumers only care about themselves and what is important to them. When agencies and media began to bore audiences, they wasted no time in switching to an alternative: blogs and websites, which spoke their language.

Elsewhere, in the United States and England, agencies are embracing story-telling and big ideas. Agencies are news jacking, blogging and breaking the Internet. The press release has been murdered and buried. Elsewhere, bribery is a sin and if it does happen at all, it is clandestine with clear understanding of implications.

TheNiche

Moreover, PR is driven by clear strategy and clear measurement indices. Media is driven by circulation figures and ethics. Those who practice otherwise are the exception, not the norm as it is here in Nigeria.

Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and PRCAN are working hard to cleanse the practice and lead the industry into the future. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other associations are working to ensure organizations treat their journalists better, and more than a few agencies are determined to execute campaigns that meet current global standards.

Great case studies are emerging from Nigeria. Little agencies are doing big things and interests in membership for NIPR and PRCAN is at an all time high.

But experts claim some things will need to happen before we experience this big transformation.

  • Journalists will have to be better trained and remunerated.
  • Media organizations will have to be better funded and run.
  • PR professionals will need to embrace new thinking  – we will need to think and behave like copywriters, filmmakers, storytellers, comedians, designers, editors and bloggers.
  • Regulation will have to be stringent to make it more difficult for quacks to find and keep business.
  • PR consultancies will have to be better funded and run. There will have to be mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.
  • In-house PR staff will have to embrace technology, stay updated on trends and be at the forefront of helping management understand that #PRISDEAD.
  • Training, according to all the experts surveyed, is at the centre of it all. We all -media, agencies, regulators – must invest in training and tools if we are to change our stories and change our lives. All three must work together to create the kinds of experience that will lure the audiences back.