MOJI SAKA: The Amazon At Soulcomms PR

For Mojisola Saka, Chief Operating Officer, Soulcomms PR, one of Nigeria’s leading engagement marketing and communications consultancy, marketing communications is life. Since her debut as a greenhorn at Prex Advertising about two decades ago, Moji has traversed the whole gamut of the industry. From advertising to public relations; from experiential marketing to events, Moji has garnered experience in all. And this has made her an all-round professional. It was her varied experience in the sector that she has brought to bear in running Soulcomms when she was named the head of the agency five years ago.

Recalling her experience at Prex and EXP in the early days of her career, Moji says, “At Prex Advertising, I started as a sub executive and it was quite pressing and demanding. I remember vividly when I was interviewed at Prex Advertising, Jaiye Ojo asked me 10-15 years down the line, where do I see myself and I said, I want to be one of the forces to be reckoned with in marketing communications. At that time, I just said it to get the job but in all honesty, reflecting on that statement, I have no regrets thus far. Prex was a good experience because I was green. I learnt everything from the basics; contact reporting to client meeting, client briefing and process management. Moving to EXP, was a different experience in marketing communications. It wasn’t like advertising; I was practising experiential marketing which involved strategic thinking. It was all about activating for consumer brand demand. It was fast paced – every brief was different.

My entire stay gave different values to my career. Looking back at the experience, I believe it was God charting my course for me. EXP afforded me the opportunity to express myself a lot more. With EXP, I understood that anything could be done once you set your mind to do it and it didn’t matter if it was fat or slim cheque. All that experience further informed my person.”

Although before joining Soulcomms, Moji had a brief stint working in the banking sector according to her, her experience in the bank was not as interesting as in the marketing communications industry and so when the offer came to return to the marketing communications sector, she wasted no time in taking the offer. “ When I joined Soulcomms, it was like a homecoming because I felt more alive doing what I was doing. In all, my experiences have informed my being a well-grounded person in terms of meeting public expectations, knowledge and achieving goals. I often say to people, don’t ever assume the door is locked to you even when it seems locked, just keep knocking and trying and someone will be there to open for you. I believe persistence gives way for acceptance. I also believe that there are lessons to learn from every situation because no knowledge comes to us by chance. My experiences across the board only added value to me and kept me going,” says Moji

Barely six months as an account director at Soulcomms,the mantle of leadership fell on Moji, when the Principal Consultant resigned. According to Moji, “ I joined the business in October 2010 as an account director but the responsibility of running and coordinating the business rested on me in March 2011 after the exit of the Principal Consultant. I recall when my Group MD called and told me I have to take charge and be responsible for the business. I had no choice but to take on the challenge. It was only natural as I’m someone who deals with whatever comes my way appropriately and take on challenges with optimism. So, in good faith I took up the mantle and still at it to date. Then it dawned on me I had become more answerable than before and had to be more committed to my team. If I had a 60% commitment to the team then, now, I have a 150% commitment level. I have to lead by example and not be careless. I have to pay attention to certain areas of the business that I wouldn’t have paid attention or taken interest in.”

As a woman working in a male domi- nated industry, you ask Moji how she has been coping with the challenges and she says: “ We have advantage here because we are women. A lot can work for us just as it can work against us. Again, you must understand that business cannot be run on sympathy and sentiments. As a woman, your emotional instincts and values come to play. When a woman is committed, she is committed, and when she is not, she is not there. I don’t see women playing in a male dominated sector a problem. I think the men should watch their back because when a woman decides to do something, she does very well. As for women running businesses within the marketing communications sector, it is about learning to balance things. When I find opporunity I go for the broke because there is nothing impossible for me to do. Women are blessed with an ability to juggle different roles yet perform optimally. So, a woman in business must have a mindset that she has to succeed. Once that mind is set then, success can only be your portion. Gone are the days when women were seen as the weaker sex. Today, we have female presidents even in Africa which at some point we thought would be impossible. So, a woman can take any role and succeed.”

It is generally known that PR is regarded as the younger sibling of advertising in the marketing mix, what is Moji’s take on this? “ Both advertising and PR work hand in hand and they can also work separately. Personally, I think PR is stronger with a longer lifespan than advertising. Unfortunately, what we find is that PR spend is still the lowest and not commensurate with the value it brings to the communication chain. Advertising closely followed by events/activation still lead the pack while PR is trailing behind. While advertising could give you top of the mind awareness, sustaining the relationship between a brand and the consumer, and service to the buyer is delivered through PR. PR gives you a sustainable relationship. It helps to place the much-needed premium and appreciation on the relationship. Owing to industry regulation and organisation, advertising has remained at the fore. So if we take the learning curve from advertising to our field with coordinated efforts and regulation no prospective client will take the profession of PR for granted. With the efforts NIPR and PRCAN are putting together, it is a matter of time before clients would begin to appreciate the profession.”

As a parting shot, one asks Moji to talk about Soulcomms activities and clientele base over the years, her response evokes the excitement of a passionate marketing pro. Hear her: “ Soulcomms is a leading engagement marketing and communications consultancy of over 12 years. It is a subsidiary of SO&U. With its multibusiness offerings of perception and reputation management and marketing, Soulcomms has sustained its enterprise relevance through its agile and imaginative edge providing services to indigenous and multinational clients. Our clientele list past and present include Coca-Cola Nigeria, P&G, Cadbury, Blackberry, GTBank, Access Bank, Polo Nigeria, EMS, Wapic Insurance, Standard Chartered Bank and Akwa Ibom State Government.

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