By Yinka Ajayi
John Ehiguese, President of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) and Group CEO of MediaCraft Associates, at 60, bares his mind on issues facing Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), and how the issues can be addressed. Excerpts:
How does it feel being 60 and active in Integrated Marketing Communication across Africa?
There is nothing extraordinary about my new age of 60, except that the body is beginning to slow down. I am no longer as strong as I used to be, and so, I am more contemplative, more restrained, in my decision-making and actions. Hopefully, wiser too.
What has been your motivation?
I am a self-motivated person. I set goals for myself, and do the best I can to achieve them. Some work out well, others don’t. But that’s life.
How would you rate public and media relations industry in Nigeria during the recession, and how did agencies fare on effective campaigns?
Well, as expected, the industry took a big hit during the recent economic recession. For many organisations, once things begin to go southwards financially, one of the first budgets to suffer is that of media relations. But thankfully, we are beginning to see signs of gradual recovery in the sector. Painfully slow, I must admit, but we hope that things will pick up much faster soon. Regarding agencies having their fair share on budget, I would not like to generalise, because it varies from company to company. How much budget a company allots to media relations is usually a function of its priorities and what is available to spend.
What is the missing link between agencies and the media that needs to be addressed for an effective campaign?
The relationship between PR agencies and the media should be a symbiotic one, a sort of partnership. But increasingly we find media practitioners who, in addition to their jobs also try to double as PR consultants. This is unhealthy at best, and downright unethical, at worst. It distorts the entire paradigm and professional structure.
Amid striving businesses in Nigeria and across Africa what is the way out?
In the case of Nigeria, from the second half of this year, political campaigns will take the front burner in the national consciousness, and consequently the economy may not receive the attention it deserves. But with regards to Africa, it is difficult to generalise.
What is your charge for young practitioners in IMC in Nigeria?
Our industry is increasingly being disrupted by developments in the digital and technology world. The dynamics of the business are changing, and rapidly too, so every operator will find a need at some point to take a critical look at his or her business strategy or model, to see what adjustments can be made in order to remain competitive in business. The old rules are no longer applicable, it’s a whole new world out there.
What operational plan made Media Craft Associates survive the recession?
We took a hit during the recession, but we survived, partly through the support of some of our loyal clients, and also through constant internal review of our operations and business strategies to ensure we stayed afloat.
As President of PRCAN, do you see the sector tailored towards national development as obtainable worldwide?
What many people don’t realise is that good PR supports national development to the extent that it helps to build healthy and viable business organizations that in turn aggregate to a positive impact on the national economy. Nigeria’s case cannot be different.
How is PRCAN seeking policies that can grow the sector in Nigeria and Africa generally?
The purview of PRCAN is limited to Nigeria. We are engaging on capacity building, to raise the standard of practice across board. Secondly, we are prosecuting various outreaches towards various stakeholder groups, including government, to grow awareness and patronage, for local (Nigerian) PR consultants. Finally, we are embarking on self-regulatory initiatives to raise the standard of practice and promote a better ethical environment.