Archive for October, 2010

Will Nigerian Public Relations Increasingly Get a Seat at the Top in Corporate Nigeria?

Every now and then I think of public relations, I ask myself with utmost dismay if indeed practitioners of the profession in Nigeria will increasingly get a seat at the top management – the height of any organization – in years to come.

It is no more news that the public relations profession dates back from the 15th century. And that its activities are widely used and well appreciated in countries like the USA and UK to mention just two.

What is however news is that the Nigerian government is never really aware if public relations practitioners do exist in the country, not to talk of patronizing them! It is disheartening also to hear corporate executives talk down on public relations people. You hear such comments like “What exactly are public relations functions in an organization?” or “How does a public relations job fit into our corporate goal of maximizing profit?” This cold disposition shows an inadequate orientation on the objects, scope and roles of public relations in industry.

In a recent study of the US bureau of labour statistics, about 700,000 jobs were held by advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers in 2002. It was observed that sales managers held almost half of the jobs (343,000); while marketing managers held more than one-fourth (203,000). Advertising and promotions managers held 85,000; and public relations managers held only 69,000 of the total jobs.

The result of the study above is a crystal clear indication of the low recognition corporate executives the world over place on this highly priced profession.

From my point of view, I believe this misunderstanding and skepticism of public relations role can be attributed to the fact that many of the traditional corporate executives had a management background which placed little or no emphasis on public relations or reputations management. Many CEOs are ignorant of what a public relations function is, and what it is not.

A look at the educational curriculum for social and management sciences department of many higher institutions in Nigeria shows dearth of requisite courses in Public Relations. A typical example is the department of Business Administration of Olabisi Onabanjo University, BUS 407 (Promotional Management 1) is the only course one would notice a Public Relations mention. And, you need to know the worst of it all: It is an elective! (I guess for students who specialize in Marketing.)

This perhaps is the reason heads of both marketing and public relations department dispute over the right to plan and present communication strategies.

The public relations practitioner is faced also with a similar problem. As a result of his narrow exposure to management principles and techniques, he lacks managerial and administrative skills that modern CEOs look out for. Public Relations courses are often housed in a journalism, mass communications or communications department which makes it difficult. (But, that is not to say it canâ?™t be found in a business school.)

As Chief Bob Ogbuagu, an expert in public relations sums it up: Broaden the base of the training of public relations people so that they'll do a bit of accounts, do a bit of everything because when you become a manager, really your profession is not strictly what you do.

The pressure is on public relations people to acquire sound managerial skills. Though effective writing is absolutely a critical skill; judgment may be the most important single qualification needed in their field; the capacity to think analytically under pressure; confidence, sensitivity, organizing and planning ability may be the hallmark of a public relations training; nevertheless, management skills are invaluable for successful climbing the public relations ladder.

For a career in Public Relations, a university or polytechnic degree or diploma respectively is essential, and a basic grounding in the liberal arts is strongly recommended. The practitioner need give it a thought also on earning a degree (probably a masterâ?™s) in Management, Administration or Business, and attending short training courses or certification programmes related to his field and specialization in order to remain relevant in this highly competitive job market.

Further more, the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) should fight for more Public Relations courses to be taught in the social and management departments of institutions of higher learning and ensure only professionals teach those courses.

Conclusively, every true public relations practitioner has a role to play in this revolution. All hands must be on desk to ensure her rightful place in the society. Public relations professionals are role models. Once, the simple operation of publicity today has emerged as an important management function. Gone are the days when public relations executives are pegged at the manager level. The public relations head should hold strategic positions like vice president, assistant general manager, deputy managing director, or even managing director/CEO status.

It is high time practitioners equipped themselves with the required training and skills in order not to be relegated to incidental activities in corporate hierarchy.

Ayokunle Bankole is the CEO of Loud Media Company, Lagos, Nigeria. We are a publicity and promotions firm that specializes in making individuals, groups and corporate bodies known within and outside their borders!
Tel. +2348055981421

APCON takes Rebranding to the Politicians

 

THEY are the same people who eventually make it to the Country's seat of power. But despite their importance and eventual control of the helm of affairs, most citizens do not think much of this set of highly placed individuals. This is the story of Politicians in the Nigerian Political dispensation. They've been described with words like: Corrupt, cheats, dupes, liars, tricksters, fraudsters, hypocrites among others. 
 
The President of Catholic Bishops Conference lending credence to this belief has also once used these words to describe this sect: Unpatriotic, Lazy, Greedy, and Corrupt. 
 
But not relegating their importance and necessity, and avoiding the chance of having the greater flock of bad politicians getting to power, and affecting the polity negatively, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) at the Advertising Day took the rebranding message their route, as though with the same belief as a greater number of citizens that whatever system the Country has today, is somehow connected to the kind of people who are in power, a product most times, of the political terrain obtainable at that giving period. 
 
At the discussion of an interesting topic that concerns this sect of our polity, Rebranding the Nigerian Politician, the role of advertising, at the16th Advertising Day Annual Lecture of APCON held over the weekend in Sheraton and Towers Lagos, all stakeholders were on hand to lend a voice to the need to orientate Politicians on the way to be, as well as enlighten the audience more on some misconceptions. 
 
From APCON Registrar Alhaji Bello Kankarofi who is hosting, to its Chairman, Lolu Akinwunmi, who believes it is not just rebranding of the Politicians that should be the focal point, because the whole issue is tied to the rebranding of the nation, to the Minister of Information and Technology, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who delved into the numerous reasons, ways and expectations of the rebranding project, as it affects both the mentioned Politicians, and other Nigerians, down to the Chief Speaker at the event, Senator David Iornem who had a presentation dedicated to this duty .  
 
All the efforts, according to the Minister, “as part of the effort to achieve the aim of handing over the Nigeria of our dream to our children. “Why can't we help to fix our Country instead of helping to bring it down?” She asks. “We can achieve great result if we can only play our individual part.” 
She went on to explain the perception about politicians, the reason for it, the reason for the way they are, and their part to play, “People have associated Politics with falsehood, and that is why you hear terms like Don't play politics with me. They in turn see politicians as liars, but it is not always true, but only based on their perception of some of these politicians who come into power with promises that are never fulfilled. They are however a product of the society, can be affected by the same system as the society, and therefore can be rebranded if the society gets rebranded. They can also change this perception about them by not making promises they cannot keep.” The Minister explained. 
In doing justice to the issue at hand, Senator Iornem, chose a better title for his presentation: The role of advertising and badvertising. He started by giving a comprehensive definition of Branding, rebranding, similarities and differences of product branding/rebranding, and politician branding/rebranding. 
 
Unlike advertising, badvertising was explained as painting an ugly picture of a product, situation, or service with the intention that someone will avoid it. He gave an example of the campaign on Tobacco products where Smokers are announced to be liable to die young, and mention other campaign aimed at re-enforcing negative outcome from embracing a particular act, product or service. 
 
Pointing out Politicians area of defect, he admits that politicians sometimes take on ambiguous tasks that eventually when not concluded, shows them up as liars and cheats, but agrees with the minister's assessment that they are the product of the society, and are as much influenced by it like everybody else. She made an example of the vision 20-20-20 project, which he said was probably proposed because of its rhymes as the objectives of the project is not realizable for the duration giving. “Becoming one of the best 20 countries in the world economy by 20-20 takes much more than paying 70% of the budget for a fake contract.” 
 
He argues that a Nigerian politician is no different than every other citizen of the country, “90% of Nigerians are bedeviled by the same problem of a politician because we are a product of ourselves, and every Nigeria is a Politician” then he pointed the right way to go about it, “to rebrand a concept like a Nigeria Politician, it needs a comprehensive marketing approach, and not just advertising.”
It was soon the turn of Idoren Inyang, the ADVAN President to chip in his point in the duty of a Moderator. He was just that, as he gave a fair assessment of the two sides of the coin, without mincing words. In doing that, he gave three factors to consider in rebranding a Nigerian politician. 
•    What is the Concept?
•    What makes a good brand? which he recounted as authenticity, consistencies, and staying power
•    Who is better qualified to handle political adverts? 
“The reality is that political marketing is not the same thing as product marketing. In one there is logic, and in the other, there is competence.” He explained.
 
Source: National Daily
 
 

Nigeria @ 50: How Far Has Marketing Communications Come?

The beginning of the Integrated Marketing communications (IMC) practice, in Nigeria dates back to the times when the earliest products or what today have become brands sourced for ways to reach their market or target customers through advertising. Though many will argue that Public Relations practice precedes advertising, advertising as a form of consultancy or marketing activity began before any other marketing communication activity in Nigeria. It was Lowe Lintas, an advert company that opened up the business terrain over 80 years ago. Since then, marketing has been moving in leaps and bounds and any industry veteran would point out that there have been significant improvements over the years. As the years sped on, some level of attention was paid to sales promotion, PR, sponsorship, events and direct marketing. The emergence ofsocial media as a direct marketing tool as the latest and fastest growing marketing communication technique has opened up many more aspects of marketing many would have thought was impossible.

A significant boom for the industry came in the 1980s when telecos entered the scene. Wanting to aggressively push their brands in the market especially when competition began to emerge, brand custodians began to come up with creative marketing ideas that began to create the sort of consumer engagement advertising might not have for their brand. Despite this growing trend, it seems brands still focus most of their marketing activities on advertising. Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, Chairman C&F Porter Novelli explains that this trend is one of the reasons the industry has probably not reached the level it is supposed to. Having pointed this out the question one might be tempted to ask is how integrated are marketing techniques that are applied on a brand. Muyiwa Moyela, senior consultant with The Quadrant Company says “as our market economy develops, consumers become more discerning and as practiced knowledge of marketing communications professionals (agencies, client-side practitioners and the media) increases, we can expect better and optimal integration that will deliver quantifiable value for the end user.”

Trying to point out which segment is doing better, the effectiveness of any of these numerous branches depends on whether or not it is used appropriately for a brand. Maduegbuna explains that the success of integrating marketing activities majorly lies on the client -that is the strategies he deems fit to employ. Now that clients are becoming aware that there is more to marketing a brand than advertising, the IMC is sure to experience a boom in the nearest future. Maduegbuna however believes that one other factor that can improve IMC practice in Nigeria is education. He points out that regulatory bodies such as Avertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) are yet to develop strategies through which young and aspiring practitioners can be groomed for future challenges. “Know how is important and regulatory bodies should begin to take particular interest in that if the industry is to grow in the next few years.” He also explains that this move is necessary because “in a few years time new companies will begin to flood Africa and Nigeria and if we don’t want foreigners to take over the leadership of the industry under our noses, we have to equip the next generation of the IMC industry.”

With the economic downturn and the clampdown on banks in Nigeria, the industry suffered some setbacks but with ad spends on the world cup championships and the country’s 50th independence anniversary IMC practitioners believe the storm is gradually receding. Having overcome these setbacks, could there be a light at the end of the IMC tunnel? Maduegbuna optimistically projects that the growth to be experienced will be near overwhelming. “I see growth in the nearest future but how far this will go will depend on the quality of practitioners our institutions churn out and the efforts of the regulatory bodies to equip the young practitioners.” Moyela on his part says he expects to see some improved dynamic practices in IMC. “I expect to see our practitioners ‘running things’ across the sub Sahara Africa market. I expect to see the Nigerian IMC industry determining strategy and spend for the rest of the AMEA (Asia, Middle East and Africa) region, as Nigeria becomes the business, leisure and entertainment capital of Africa, South of the Sahara.” With so much enthusiasm for growth, it is believed that industry players and aspiring practitioners would build a strong IMC industry that would stand the test of time and be a force to reckon with in the next fifty years.
 

APCON takes Rebranding to the Politicians

THEY are the same people who eventually make it to the Country's seat of power. But despite their importance and eventual control of the helm of affairs, most citizens do not think much of this set of highly placed individuals. This is the story of Politicians in the Nigerian Political dispensation. They've been described with words like: Corrupt, cheats, dupes, liars, tricksters, fraudsters, hypocrites among others.

The President of Catholic Bishops Conference lending credence to this belief has also once used these words to describe this sect: Unpatriotic, Lazy, Greedy, and Corrupt.

But not relegating their importance and necessity, and avoiding the chance of having the greater flock of bad politicians getting to power, and affecting the polity negatively, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) at the Advertising Day took the rebranding message their route, as though with the same belief as a greater number of citizens that whatever system the Country has today, is somehow connected to the kind of people who are in power, a product most times, of the political terrain obtainable at that giving period.

At the discussion of an interesting topic that concerns this sect of our polity, Rebranding the Nigerian Politician, the role of advertising, at the16th Advertising Day Annual Lecture of APCON held over the weekend in Sheraton and Towers Lagos, all stakeholders were on hand to lend a voice to the need to orientate Politicians on the way to be, as well as enlighten the audience more on some misconceptions.

From APCON Registrar Alhaji Bello Kankarofi who is hosting, to its Chairman, Lolu Akinwunmi, who believes it is not just rebranding of the Politicians that should be the focal point, because the whole issue is tied to the rebranding of the nation, to the Minister of Information and Technology, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who delved into the numerous reasons, ways and expectations of the rebranding project, as it affects both the mentioned Politicians, and other Nigerians, down to the Chief Speaker at the event, Senator David Iornem who had a presentation dedicated to this duty . 

All the efforts, according to the Minister, “as part of the effort to achieve the aim of handing over the Nigeria of our dream to our children. “Why can't we help to fix our Country instead of helping to bring it down?” She asks. “We can achieve great result if we can only play our individual part.”

She went on to explain the perception about politicians, the reason for it, the reason for the way they are, and their part to play, “People have associated Politics with falsehood, and that is why you hear terms like Don't play politics with me. They in turn see politicians as liars, but it is not always true, but only based on their perception of some of these politicians who come into power with promises that are never fulfilled. They are however a product of the society, can be affected by the same system as the society, and therefore can be rebranded if the society gets rebranded. They can also change this perception about them by not making promises they cannot keep.” The Minister explained.

In doing justice to the issue at hand, Senator Iornem, chose a better title for his presentation: The role of advertising and badvertising. He started by giving a comprehensive definition of Branding, rebranding, similarities and differences of product branding/rebranding, and politician branding/rebranding.

Unlike advertising, badvertising was explained as painting an ugly picture of a product, situation, or service with the intention that someone will avoid it. He gave an example of the campaign on Tobacco products where Smokers are announced to be liable to die young, and mention other campaign aimed at re-enforcing negative outcome from embracing a particular act, product or service.

Pointing out Politicians area of defect, he admits that politicians sometimes take on ambiguous tasks that they are the product of the society, and are as much influenced by it like everybody else. She made an example of the vision 20-20-20 project, which he said was probably proposed because of its rhymes as the objectives of the project is not realizable for the duration giving. “Becoming one of the best 20 countries in the world economy by 20-20 takes much more than paying 70% of the budget for a fake contract.”

He argues that a Nigerian politician is no different than every other citizen of the country, “90% of Nigerians are bedeviled by the same problem of a politician because we are a product of ourselves, and every Nigeria is a Politician” then he pointed the right way to go about it, “to rebrand a concept like a Nigeria Politician, it needs a comprehensive marketing approach, and not just advertising.”

It was soon the turn of Idoren Inyang, the ADVAN President to chip in his point in the duty of a Moderator. He was just that, as he gave a fair assessment of the two sides of the coin, without mincing words. In doing that, he gave three factors to consider in rebranding a Nigerian politician.

?    What is the Concept?

?    What makes a good brand? which he recounted as authenticity, consistencies, and staying power

?    Who is better qualified to handle political adverts?

“The reality is that political marketing is not the same thing as product marketing. In one there is logic, and in the other, there is competence.” He explained.

Source: National Daily