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2017 turbulent for PR, influencer marketing to normalize in 2018 — Practitioners

…Personal branding thought leadership to grow

By Princewill Ekwujuru

Despite expectation for a better business  environment in 2017, the year  has been described as  turbulent for  the  Public Relations, PR  industry in Nigeria, as witnessed globally.

Practitioners said that campaigns suffered to some extent as clients were largely driven by budgets rather than ideas, even though there were positives as more opportunities opened in some otherwise uncharted sectors.

They pointed out also that Influencer marketing will undergo a period of normalization in 2018.

They said the tool has grown wild in the last few years but has brought with it an unhealthy influence that unfortunately rewards chequebooks over the merits of an idea.

They also said that there is an emerging imperative for brands to get back to the fundamentals of relationship building, trust and transparency in communications.

According to Maxwell Iwuoha of   Troups Campaign, “2018 will become even more about the customer experience. Today’s buyers (whether an organization or consumer) are more informed and choosy about who they decide to do business.     People want to buy from brands that they can trust and feel that they share the same values with.

In order to survive in this newer era, organizations will need to become more customer-centric and engage with their audiences in an authentic and personalized way.

Similar to what is currently going on as a result of the 2019 election in social media; I feel there will be an increased and possibly dramatic focus on message attribution across all channels.

That transparency will mean that marketers and PR professionals will possibly have to work much harder to customize their messages to ensure they are hyper-targeted and unique to the media outlet to gain traction and engagement.”

In a related development, Muyiwa Akintunde, Vice President Public Relations Association of Nigeria, PRCAN said: “As it is in the global business space, 2017 was turbulent for PR. Campaigns suffered to some extent as clients were largely driven by budgets rather than ideas. However, there were the positives as more opportunities opened even in some otherwise uncharted sectors. We were able to cope by ensuring that we manage our human and capital resources meaningful to deliver on set objectives.”

He added: “The New year promises hope given that the country had technically survived the recession and businesses are expected to witness recovery and possible boom. 2018 is also the year of intense politics with the next general elections knocking on the door. Government and the private sectors are expected to step up stakeholder engagements, which will offer more prospects for PR.”

Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Consulting (UK) Dr Kunle Hamilton, said: “The need to take PR online increased in 2017 as a major spinoff, from politics especially the anti-corruption campaign of the Buhari administration.

People struggle to whitewash their brand identities, by deploying PR strategies on social media platforms, due to the benefit of immediacy and mobile telephony penetration.

So, companies, governments, politicians, and businessmen have used conventional and guerrilla PR tactics extensively online in 2017″

He continued: “The year has closed with serious destructive attacks on the Nigerian Church, and these attacks are mostly on YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Television. I believe that in the new year 2018, mega pastors and other church stakeholders should, therefore, see the need to hire PR strategists to reposition the Nigerian Church in getting past media attacks on the core concept of their church such as   ‘tithing’.

Also in the new year, perception managers, image makers,   and reputation specialists would be in very high demand, as consultants to political gladiators in preparation for the 2019 presidential elections.”

Also speaking, Mazi Ibezim Ojukwu-Igwe, Lead Consultant, Stratec Communications, Port Harcourt, said: “I think the PR industry will finally wake up to the fragmentation of influence. This will give rise to the ‘micro influencer,’ a dynamic that PR will struggle to address next year because clients/companies do not value the “micro influencer” but requires a hand-crafted approach that is difficult to scale.

Yet, one could make an argument particularly for B2B companies that someone with deep influence over 100 people has more value than someone with superficial influence over 10,000 people. This one will be unfolding for the coming years.”

Also speaking, CEO of  Leonardo Communications, Evelyn  Mate, stated that personal branding and thought leadership will go beyond executives in 2018, companies that invest in thought leadership were only really interested in  brand-building and thought leadership  for executives.

“Companies are now realizing that it’s important to invest in leaders outside the executive suite and that the best way to lead your industry is by looking at the company, not just at the top.

This companywide approach can prevent major loss if one key leader leaves the company, and it also allows a variety of thought leaders to target different audiences. The more people on your team who are building their brands and, by extension, your company’s brand, the more opportunities you have to  distribute content  and connect with your audience.

In addition, Oziem Opia, Content Manager for Max Media, a content marketing company based in Cross Rivers, said: “PR is not all that different.  With  content marketing trends  and  innovative  social media tools  changing how we approach media, PR leaders can expect to see some major shifts in the coming year.”


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.