Mrs. Nkiru Olumide-Ojo, Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications at Stanbic IBTC, has challenged Public Relations consultants in Nigeria to adopt available technology in the measurement of impact of PR activities on their clients’ business.
Olumide-Ojo, who was the guest speaker at the 5th Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) Monthly Breakfast Meeting held in Lagos recently dismissed the widely held notion that PR could not be measured, explaining that there are available technology that can help with measurement.
In her presentation on ‘Public Relations Agency-Client Relationship: A view from both sides’, Olumide-Ojo said that, for example, Word Mapping could be done using Google and other available tools that would determine how many times key messages were mentioned and their impact.
According to Olumide-Ojo, who started out her career on the Agency side of PR practice, “we deny ourselves more credibility if we do not mark our own work,” adding that PR measurement agencies were springing up now. “It is important that we patronise them. We don’t have to wait for annual brand health checks before we see how well we have fared,” she added.
Speaking on client’s expectations of PR agencies, Olumide-Ojo advised PR consultants to be more proactive in attending to clients’ needs. She advised that PR agencies must anticipate challenges and offer PR solutions to deal with them.
She admonished: “Clients want their PR agencies to take up the role of a consultant. They want an agency that would look at a situation and give professional advice. They feel more comfortable with an agency that is able to do that. It is the easiest way for agencies to earn respect and trust as they would see you as a strong partner rather than a messenger.”
She stressed the need for PR consultants to understand the client’s business. According to her, clients get impatient with consultants that find it difficult to understand terminologies of their industry. “When clients know that you speak their language, they are more comfortable with you,” she said.
Olumide-Ojo said that PR in Nigeria has really grown in the last 15 years. “Prior to the fast-paced growth of the practice post-2000, PR practitioners were perceived largely as glorified pressmen as practice was almost limited to press releases distribution,” which was why veteran journalists drifted seamlessly between PR and media professions.
In her words: “After year 2000, a lot of things happened. PR practice was removed from the appendage of the creative industry. Technology and increasing sophistication of practitioners helped to change perception. Now we have more PR practitioners who understand their clients and are ready to learn.”
PRCAN President, John Ehiguese, in his remarks, admitted the importance of measurement but said clients were not always willing to pay for research. He however encouraged PR agencies to invest on research and evaluation in order to reap the full benefits of measurement.
He said the breakfast meeting was in furtherance of the commitment of the Association to boost the capacity of PR consultants in Nigeria so that they could better understand the client’s point of view and thereby manage their expectations better.
Previous editions of the PRCAN Breakfast meeting have featured communication professionals from the private sector. They were: Kufre Ekanem, Corporate Affairs Adviser of Nigerian Breweries Plc; Emeka Oparah, Director of Corporate Communications and CSR at Airtel Nigeria; David Okeme, President of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) who is also Brand Building Director at Unilever Plc; and Tony Ojobo Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
PRCAN is chartered by a Bye Law of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to cater to the interests of the consultancy side of PR practice in Nigeria. It currently has a membership of 51 PR consultancy firms providing services across at least 21 PR practice areas.