PRQuote: PR needs PR!

Kòṣòro kòṣòro ni kò jẹ́ kí ọmọ alágbẹ̀dẹ ó lọ́kọ́

By Olutayo Irantiola

PRQuote: PR needs PR!

Kòṣòro kòṣòro ni kò jẹ́ kí ọmọ alágbẹ̀dẹ ó lọ́kọ́

By Olutayo Irantiola

I opened with a Yoruba proverb that says, “It ain’t a difficult thing to do. That’s why the son of the blacksmith does not have a hoe.” This exactly is the situation of many PR Specialists who get neck-deep into the work of the clients but they ignore their own visibility. With the many tactics that we generate for the client, we do not plan ours.

Recently, I was trying to reach out to a PR Consultant in another country in Africa and I found it difficult to place her. In fact, it will surprise you that her social media presence is close to nil. I had to wait for her to tell me about herself in an e-mail. Quite amazing, you will think!

We have done ourselves a lot of disservice over the years by not telling people what public relations are and what we do. Do you know people assume that PR is synonymous with bribery (brown envelopes)? Some associate it with glamour. There is a lot more to PR than meets the eye, I must say!

Another side to the convo is that in people’s minds; they believe journalists will do better than even a PR agency. The reason for this is not far-fetched. PR Specialists are usually considered expensive considering the hours spent in the development of strategies. However, a journalist will draft a news story and syndicate it with his colleagues. That is why it is easy for journalists to become commissioners for information, Chief Press Secretaries, and Media Advisers. We can all notice the various “raw” responses from the journalists that take up these roles many times because they are adept at trading words. Many governments have failed woefully in communication because of the uncouth way in which their aides respond to issues of national importance.

PR needs PR because there is an urgent need to ward off quack amongst us. People who have not been trained as PR professionals are infiltrating the ranks. It has even got so bad that everyone can easily claim to be a PR Specialist without going through the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) or having any form of certification in the profession. Today, the quacks are having a field day while the professions are waiting for the days of surplus. 

Another reason PR needs PR is that many people consider it to be advertising. Whereas there is a lot of difference between the two subsets of Integrated Marketing Communications. Similarly, advertisers have also been able to delineate practitioners into various specialties. PR, most especially in Africa, should move from the generalist tilt. Pushing the frontiers of PR will help in separating the two career paths.

PR needs PR so that it can be free from the dictates of the clients. Technically, make organizations need a PR firm so that they can keep fighting on their behalf in crisis situations. They are not willing to listen to the advice of the agency but want the agency to stick to their instruction- hook, line, and sinker. I will give a funny instance of what happens many times- clients insisting their press releases must be published as shared; news releases must be published on certain days, etc. We need to educate our clients that there is a difference between advertorials and editorials. The in-house style of media outlets differs and we need to provide the allowance for it.

It is often said about Northerners in Nigeria that if you offer them a drug to use; they will ask, “have you experienced it before?” That is the question that the client should start asking PR professionals. Have you tested the proposals that you are offering? Where are the publications of your firm? How appropriately have you used social media to your advantage? How many social media takeovers have you done? How many radio or television shows have you appeared in amongst others?

Handling the media is an area that some heads of Corporate Affairs/ Communications shy away from. They fear the spotlight, and as such all they do is engage an agency to interface with the media. Whereas, it is expected that the Chief Executive and the Head of Communications should be the spokesperson for the brand. If you really are worthy of that seat, use PR to your advantage too.

PR needs PR to remain relevant in the blurry world of Integrated Marketing Communications. We cannot keep observing and making things happen right under our noses. We have to stand up and stand out if we want to remain relevant soon.

As I close the discourse, I will share the quote of Harold Burson: “Public Relations is doing good and getting credit for it.” Let’s continue the game continues with zest and get the accolades for a job well done.

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