March 22, 2021

“Start-ups are hard work” – CEO Timilehin Bello speaks on Media Panache at 5

“Start-ups are hard work” – CEO Timilehin Bello speaks on Media Panache at 5
Timilehin Bello

Leading Nigerian Public Relations Agency, Media Panache is celebrating five years of operating as a full service communications and PR brand that provides innovative solutions for companies and individuals in Nigeria.

Starting out as a team of five individuals communicating via a Whatsapp group, Media Panache has grown to become a technology and digital-driven Public Relations agency with offices both in Lagos, Nigeria and in the United States of America within the last five years. The Brand currently has a robust client base and has helped boost positive perception for at least fifty brands and celebrities.

Timilehin Bello, CEO and Founder, Media Panache highlights the progress so far.

You started Media Panache on Whatsapp and you have grown it to this level. What drives you?

Three words. Vision, impact and passion. I have a vision to introduce new ways of doing PR, the desire to make an impact on the industry as well as position Media Panache as a young and innovative agency that is taking the Nigerian PR space by storm. The passion for that vision – that thirst for new and innovative ideas is what drives me.

Media Panache is now in its 5th year. How would you describe the journey so far?

I would describe it as a journey of continuous learning. Over the last five years, we – me and the team inclusive, have learnt a great deal. Start-ups are hard work and while you hope to hit the ground running, sometimes you fall, but what has made the difference is that we keep challenging ourselves to try again and do better. We have definitely had our own fair share of challenges, criticisms and even recognitions, but all in all, it’s been a rewarding experience.

The company has won a number of awards in the last couple of years. As the CEO, what would you say are your biggest accomplishments as a company?

We have earned ourselves a few awards such as the Young PR Agency of the year at Brandcom awards by Brand Communicator Magazine, the Maya Awards for Best PR brand in 2017, Future Awards Africa Prize for Media Enterprise amongst others. But our biggest accomplishment so far is earning the trust of our clients – that thrill of knowing that a brand, business or organisation trusts you with their work is certainly a rewarding feeling. It’s one thing to have a great idea or a great solution to an identified problem, it’s another for someone else to believe and trust that your solution works.

Being a CEO can be a daunting task and you’ve managed it so excellently well in the last five years, what has been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt on leadership?

Your greatest assets are people – not your landed property or your car, or a beautifully furnished office space, but the people who wake up every morning to carry your vision on their heads, the ones who refer you to another client, these are the ones who make the work we do worthwhile. In my years as CEO,  I’ve realised that you can’t go wrong investing in people. In fact, investing in employees and building consumer relationships yields the most returns for a business.

As the visionary leader of a company, what surprising discoveries have you made on this journey?

Leadership is hard, but it’s worth it. Being the CEO of a startup, many people see a position, but a CEO is more than a position, it’s a responsibility. Spiderman didn’t lie when he said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. No matter what rung of the leadership ladder you’re on, you will need to make certain tough decisions, and sometimes you’ll make the wrong decisions.

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Another discovery is that everybody may respect you, but that doesn’t mean everyone will like you. Of course you don’t wake up every morning planning which toes you will step up on that day, but it does happen.

Leadership is a double-edged sword really,  it has its good sides and it’s not-so-good sides but one thing I know is that leadership does bring the best out of you, and it’s a privilege to be the one stewarding Media Panache to global relevance.

It is well known that successful teamwork leads to continuous productivity in business. How do you keep your employees motivated to produce at optimum level?

At Media Panache, we maintain a very supportive work environment that pushes employees out of their comfort zones, allowing people to unleash their true potential. We also maintain a culture of trust amongst superiors and subordinates, and we have seen tremendous results with this. This way, employees are more confident in their talents and are also not afraid to ask for help from anyone within the company when they need it.

The second thing to note is that work-life balance is key. While we have all embraced remote work that has come with the new normal, we go the extra mile to ensure that work is as flexible as possible to allow team members to make time for what’s important to them.

The third thing is regular feedback that is comprehensive and easy to understand. Employees need to know how well they’re doing, this helps them to know areas they need to improve and also shows that you appreciate the work that they do.

We also encourage a culture of radical transparency. We encourage our employees to speak up regularly about challenges they may be facing in their work and how we can help make work easier for them.

As Media Panache proceeds on this journey, what are your plans for growth in the next 5 years?

Continued innovations and Partnerships. We will continue to release great resources for the PR industry like the PR workbook we released back in April 2020. We will build platforms that will change the game and most importantly, we will continue to partner with other leading PR firms in Nigeria and across the world to deliver great campaigns and results for clients worldwide.

What advice do you have for individuals who have a vision on their hearts but are afraid of failure?

Stop and ask yourself,  “what am I afraid of? “What’s the worst that could happen?” It may seem simple – or even a little silly, but just these few moments of being real with yourself will determine whether you launch out into the deep or remain crippled by the fear of failure. I started Media Panache on a WhatsApp group – I mean I had clients who didn’t even believe that we were capable of handling certain projects, but that didn’t deter us. This isn’t some “aspire to acquire” motivational speech, so I’ll tell you the truth. Sometimes, you will fail, and you need to be okay with that. However, the difference between failure and success is that failure remains defeated, but success is also failure – it’s just failure that has refused to give up.

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