The Chief Executive Officer as Chief Communicator: PR Tactics from Marching with the Elephant

The Book Cover

Title: Marching with the Elephant: Selected Speeches of Moyo Ajekigbe

Author: Jacobs Moyo Ajekigbe

Pagination: 266 pages

Publisher: Prestige Books

Year of Publication: 2009

Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola


During Media Training Sessions with C-Suite Executives of various organizations, it has always been stressed that they need to be the Chief Communicator of their organization because the vision that is appropriately shared with the staff members and other stakeholders will lead to tremendous success for the organization in its entirety. Mr. Jacobs Moyo Ajekigbe popularly called JMA, the former Chief Executive of First Bank Nigeria Plc. was able to demonstrate that he was the Chief Communicator of First Bank Nigeria Plc, while he was at the helms of affair through his book- “Marching with the Elephant: Selected Speeches of Moyo Ajekigbe”.

As a Public Relations Professional, I have seen the various recommends of agency representatives and in-house Corporate Communications staff thrown away on the basis of budget limitations and assumptions that the ideas are mere cost centers and not revenue generating units like the Marketing arm. Ironically, we all belong to the same Integrated Marketing Communications Division.

Interestingly, I can perceive the selected speeches of an erstwhile CEO as a compendium of PR tactics which helped the brand in communicating with all the publics of the First Bank Nigeria Plc when JMA was leading the brand. I believe this will challenge other leaders to personally champion the views of the PR unit of their organization-

The chapter tagged “Inside FirstBank” speaks to the Internal Communications strategy which can be deployed by C-Suites Executives to communicate their visions; the structural changes within the organization and the necessary cultural shift in the organization as a whole. Earlier in the year, the reviewer had to engage JMA in writing a motivational series called Versus Series to write on “Salary Earners vs Salary Takers.” These two phrases were gotten from this book. JMA envisioned an organization wherein all the employees are really contributing to the bottom-line without any parasitic staff member loafing on collective attainment of the team. Members of the leadership team in an organization who periodically spur his staff members to action would definitely get their commitment. JMA had an internal communications strategy that addressed everyone from the new entrants till he was going to transit into retirement.

The second chapter of the book titled, “FirstBank Products and Partnerships” is also a great tool used in Public Relations- Partnerships, Sponsorships and Promos which are part of the External Communications strategy of a brand. Albeit, the growth of any organization is depended on the quality of the alliances that it signs with other organizations. This chapter had speeches of JMA at the partnership with Globacom; Partnerships with HSBC and the FirstBank BigSplash Promo just to mention a few.

For an organization that has taken care of her staff members; struck quality alliances, the next step to take is to be involved in Thought Leadership. The third chapter of the book is on “Banking Finance and the Nigerian Economy.” Thought leadership is a potent way of implying that your organization is not just a player within a particular sector but you are setting the pace for discussions and setting the standard for others. In these speeches, JMA x-rayed the financial sector of Nigeria in relations to what is obtainable globally.

Another PR tactics that reflected in the book through the speeches are Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Advocacy is a strong tool that helps in changing the status quo, modus operandi and government policies. It also means that the organization is thinking ahead. This was visibly demonstrated in the fourth chapter of the book titled, “Public and Professional Lectures.” As an advocate of good things, the brand also invested in such efforts which showed forth in their various CSR projects. First Bank Plc was involved in various activities geared at making a change in the thoughts of the youths and in the remodeling of the educational curricula within the Nigerian educational system among others. While doing this, the “voice” of the brand was heard and this is all resonated in the book by JMA.

According to Curley & Pynn, in some ways, winning award programs or being ranked among a group of top companies can be more beneficial to your company than a news feature. The fifth chapter of the book is a depiction of the “Awards and Recognitions” won by First bank Nigeria Plc. during the stint of JMA’s leadership. Awards, another PR tool, are always delighting for brands to be recognized and it becomes more significant if the award is won across the shores of Africa. JMA furthered the leadership position that First Bank by making it truly the first.

The book came to a close with felicitations to JMA upon the announcement of his retirement. Some of those who sent in their congratulatory notes to him include Board members of First Bank Nigeria Plc.; customers; leaders from corporate and social Nigeria. The felicitations can all be categorized into Third Party Endorsement. A credible individual and organization is always endorsed and recommended to others. These felicitations are indicators of the enviable height that JMA took the bank to while he was leading the brand.

Another important tool featured in the book, however, it was not categorized is “Photo Story”. We loosely call it Gallery or mere pictures but a picture speaks a thousand words. The pictures inserted in between page 160 and 161 is a testament to the events that characterized the leadership of JMA. These photos particularly shows the various events that took place while JMA was the CEO of the bank.

As a leader of your own organization, you need to pay particular attention to Speaking Opportunities presented to you by your Corporate Communications team. It takes a lot of efforts to secure speaking opportunities, there are many CEO who assume that they waste valuable man-hours in a bid to represent their brands. Just as JMA has demonstrated, your speeches can be made available to people and it can be a blueprint that can lead to their own towering success of budding leaders in the corporate world.

As it is generally agreed by everyone from Okeho, JMA is the standard of 21st century leadership for us and we are all looking forward to matching and surpassing his attainments because as a father that is his greatest prayer for all his biological, spiritual and adopted children. This review is also a special way of personally congratulating JMA on the 10th anniversary of his retirement. May you continue to be of great service as a board room magnate and also to humanity in general.

I end it all with a charge, you need a vast PR professional to amplify your thoughts and tell your stories rightly to the world because every word counts and every opportunity must be maximized!

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