‘PR Consultants Must Embrace Global Thinking’

Established in 1994 by Dr Phil Osagie, a former President of PRCAN, JSP is the leading PR consultancy with international operational office based in Canada. With a global clientele base, Dr Osagie is the Global Strategist of JSP. In this interview, Mrs Funmi Erikitola, of the Nigerian office of JSP speaks on the mode of operation of JSP, state of PR consultancy practice in Nigeria and other sundry issues affecting the industry. Excerpts:

Kindly Assess The State Of PR Consultancy Practice In Nigeria.

Every organization, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. This is where the practice of public relations (PR) steps in. At its best, PR not only tells an organization’s story to its public, but it also helps to shape the organization and the way it works. PR is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. It is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) is the body set up for regulating PR practice in Nigeria, while the Public Relations Consultancy Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) is the body that takes the interest of all PR Consultants and agency into cognizance.

A cursory look at the PR Consultancy in Nigeria clearly shows that PRCAN is doing well in coordinating the agencies undergoing the PR practice. Of course, the names of all PR agencies/consultancies are documented in their books. Practitioners are doing their best to entrench PR practice as a very important aspect of marketing communication. However, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that PR is recognized and accepted as a key management function. Consultancy practice is been embraced by companies within and outside the country because of the trust bestowed upon the agencies to deliver standard and value. In Nigerian practice, the client is the king. The practice is gradually moving from the traditional PR methods to the strategic PR methods in order to serve clients better. However, one must not fail to state that the professional borders of the PR practice is porous, and hence now a dumping ground for others who weren’t accommodated by other professions. The profession started well, but it has not measured up to the standards of some professional bodies such as Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Institute of Chartered Accountants(ICAN), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), amongst others. Charlatans flood the PR profession thus making deliverables fall below expected standard. The international standard is the requirement for the Nigerian PR practice, and I believe that we will get there one day. It’s a gradual process. I believe that in the nearest future, PR consultants will begin to embrace global thinking and new trends, contribute to Nigerian’s economy while managing her reputation, think of concepts that can cause in paradigm shift in the global network, juxtapose the international standards with suitability with the Nigeria culture and mentality, educate clients on concrete terms on ROI which PR brings to the table, ensure collaboration with firms, re-evaluate the billing system and the KPI measurements, all amongst others. PR is broad, and it includes Reputation/Perception Management, Crisis Management, Government Relations, Issue Creation, Product launch/Event Management, Publicity, and Media Relations and Monitoring. I look forward to seeing Nigerian PR consultants have various departments within the agencies to include the just mentioned divisions of PR, while also becoming perfect in all areas of PR.

What Is The Impact Of Technology And Social Media On PR Practice?

Technology and Social Media has made PR a lot easier and impactful. Today we have social media pages to include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, and the likes. The use of blog sites and websites to report news has also contributed in no small measure. These media welcomed the 21st century into modernization, and Nigerians, especially professionals are fasting tapping into these unlocked opportunities. Before now, PR practitioners made use of only the traditional media- print and broadcast, which has only a limited reach, compared to what we have today. With the advent of technologies such as mobile phones, internet, and other modern electronic gadgets, reaching the public while saving money, has become the order of the day, given that the public easily visits their mobile gadget more often for news that interests them. With social media, PR professionals can categorize their audience. Reputation can be made or marred through stories. However, to sell the good reputation to the segmented audience of a particular product, organization, individuals, or institutions, positive stories to portray the subject in good light must be written and disseminated through the new media which has the capability of reaching a wider audience scattered all around the continents of the world. Social Media is the future of PR. Compare The Standard Of PR Practice In Nigeria To What Obtains Abroad The PR profession is the same everywhere no matter the country, in that the PR profession is the art of promoting a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its public through the media. However, the difference between PR practice in Nigeria and what is obtainable abroad is that in Nigeria the client is the king and are obeyed, while in abroad, the clients are directed on the way to go by the practitioner. Abroad, PR practice involves a strategic method of PR account management, while in Nigeria, it is more of traditional with a little of strategic methods of accounts management. Also, the billing system over there is standard, but in Nigeria, is not fixed but quite negotiable.

With The Current Glut In The Economy, What Are The Challenges Facing The Average PR Consultant In Nigeria?

The Nigerian economy at present is faced with lots of challenges ranging from a drop in oil prices, the fall of Naira over Dollar, inflation of goods and services, exorbitant transport and airfares, fuel scarcity, Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram insurgency, to mention but a few. With these challenges, there’s a threat to companies and agencies within the country, PR not an exception. The more the challenges, the more reluctant companies will be giving out jobs to PR agencies, all in a bid to cut cost. This will, in turn, affect the operations in the agency/consultants.

What Is The USP Of JSP?

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of JSP lies in the ability to provide Public Relations with Intelligence. We ensure mutual relationships between the client, media and public, and create a win-win atmosphere to balance the achievements. JSP’s former affiliation to Hill+Knowlton (One of world’s biggest PR agency), and its affiliation with Mag- na-Carta (South Africa’s big PR agency) has made the agency unique in handling international accounts while the operation is based on international standard. It gives JSP an edge amongst peers. Also, the fact that JSP has a Canadian office has in no small measure added to its reputation, as no other Nigerian PR agency has achieved that milestone.

Who Are The Past And Present Clients Of JSP?

Since its inception in 1994, JSP has handled lots of accounts, ranging from different sectors of the economy both locally and internationally. JSP’s current clients are GTB, Emirates, TetraPak, Eagle Hills, RedStar Express, Olashore International School, and P&G. Former ones are Microsoft, Nigeria Bottling Company, Qualcomm, GSK, Cotecna, Apple, amongst others.

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