The emerging trend in the global Marketing Communication, which apportions so much to public relations, has forced local practitioners to widen their scopes. This also informed the decision of some advertising agencies to establish subsidiary PR shops, a recent survey carried out by THISDAY has revealed. Beyond the middle – men roles PR is known to be playing between the media and clients, top public relation agencies in Nigeria have moved a bit further by adding experimental marketing, events planning, marketing research and sponsorship to their tool kits. Also, some agencies have started rendering services in branding and internet advertising. Some of these legs of marketing communication were not common in Nigeria until recently.
Marrying Advertising with PR Meanwhile, except for few ones, PR subsidiaries of the advertising agencies often find it very difficult to compete favourably with stand alone firms. In most cases, some of the PR shops are opened to service the clients of the owners’ advertising agencies. Some of the Advertising agencies that have PR subsidiaries are Insight, SO&U Satchi and Satchi, Prima Garnet, Centrespread and Rosabel.
Though Mr Yomi Badejo Okusanya’s CMC Connect once had business relationship with Centrespread and STB MaCann, the relationship was not long before the setting up of Redline, another PR firm by Centrespread. The establishment of the new agency confirmed the rumour that the partners have parted ways. With the impact PR had on marketing communication last year, many practitioners have concluded that 2008 will be the year of PR explosion, hence the need to work towards it. Mr Ganiyu Olowu of Pupple PR located in GRA area of Lagos, who maintained that Media Relations was just an essential tool and one of the most regular tool in Public Relations said: “To be able to weather the storm and maintain values in 2008, practitioners must be conversant with the new trends and perspectives in other legs of Public Relations. Any practitioner who still relies on press releases alone will find it difficult to stay afloat.”
On what informed the new trend in the industry, Mr. Bolaji Okusaga of The Quadrant Company told THISDAY that many Nigerians who before now saw no reason in why they should patronise public relation practitioners have started knowing its influence. “The reason is simple, until recently, a lot of people couldn’t even define the roles of public relation practitioners in marketing and brand positioning, but like the common saying, old things seem to have passed away, even a small firm now knows the value public relations can add to its good or services,” he stressed. Quacks in the Profession Though he agreed that the industry is developing so fast in Nigeria, Okusaga blamed the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations for poor regulation, which he believes gives room for the unbridled springing up of quarks. “Barrier of entry is still very low in this part of the world. Today, you see many people of different background with no knowledge of the job jumping into publications. To this set of people ‘everything is PR, even unethical things that are unheard off. In many ways they are creating problems for clients and embarrassments for qualify practitioners who understand the minus and plus”
In his reaction to Okusaga’s position on what should be the contribution of the institute, the NIPR National President, Professor Ikechukwu Nwosu told THISDAY on phone that NIPR leadership is aware that some people are in practice without being duly registered or qualified to be in practice but that efforts are on to nip the obnoxious practice in the bud “There is no place in the world where there are no corrupt practices, regardless of how little and hardly there is any profession in the world where there are no quacks but the most important thing is that a measure should be in place to arrest or control the situation. In the NIPR family, we are daily working on how best and quickly we can fish out the black goats. “We shouldn’t forget that Rome is not built in a day, the industry is not as appreciated as this 20 years ago, it is natural that it will attract a lot of people now when individuals and organisations are striving hard to hire the service of PR practitioners. Therefore, it is a matter of time, we will put things in other and make sure only those who are registered will remain in practice” Prof. Nwosu said.
On what will differentiate quacks from core professionals, he added that: “A good repositioning effort must add values to brands. When this is out then the handler has done nothing. People are beginning to be able to separate whiff from shafts. Some clients are keen at getting value for their money, if you are not good at the job, you will not even be able to decipher a brief not to talk of making anything out of it, in this case, you are failing from the on set. “Our day of glory in NIPR is here, the current administration is giving us the necessary backing that will make the institute able to tackle all the critical issues in public relation practice. The Minister of information will soon inaugurate our council in Abuja. It may interest you to know that the minister abide by the law that stipulates that he should appoint five members into the council. For this reason, Messrs Willy Ogbibi, Rabiu Muhammed and Erondo will be inaugurated with us. Two women, Lady Nanty Ogenekaro and Mrs Jeroma Ikomi will also join the council.”
* Source: Thisday Newspapers