Why We’re Recognizing Influence and Public Relations – Ayẹni Adékúnlé Samuel

We started something over five years ago. Our company was just nine years old. Less than 30 staff, and revenue of around $2m. We had just launched ID Africa. Plaqad was nothing but a dream. And our only major multinational client was Nigerian Breweries PLC.

What did we do five years ago? We launched PR is dead, a year after launching Nigeria’s first PR App. Then we started Nigeria PR report. We got tired of complaining about being ignored by the global PR and communications industry. We took it upon ourselves to do PR, for PR, if you know what I mean. How do we elevate the practice? Build respect? Develop the industry? We were just a little Lagos agency. But we were desperate to switch things up. Not just for ourselves, but for an industry that had been super kind to us.

Today, BHM works for four multinational companies, two of them quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. We have launched two sister companies, and grown revenue by over 700% since 2015. We have not only established ourselves in Nigeria, we are now finalising plans to play in the UK and in America.

But let’s leave BHM and look at the industry. Five years later, revenues have grown by over 50%, respect has significantly returned, more mass comm graduates now find PR cool, and we are no longer seen as the poor cousins of advertising. In fact, digital marketing, which appeared to pull the rug off our feet for a minute, is now taking a back seat to PR.

International associations and awards are paying attention. We can no longer be ignored.

And it’s just the beginning.

Public relations and communications are essential not only to brand management, and business success; they are also key to national orientation, political development, citizen education and global peace. And we are at a point in our history when we must step back, and pay attention.

Practitioners need to answer a call of duty, to help people and companies and governments communicate more honestly and responsibly. Governments and organisations need to be more deliberate about using public relations to build and innovate and develop.

The world is in crisis. From Washington to Kigali; from London to Beirut. From Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi. We are facing a crisis of leadership, at a time when the world is in desperate need for great leadership. We are drowning in fake news and propaganda; at a time when we have the most advanced technology to disseminate information to create a better world.

What will tomorrow look like? What kind of future are we creating? What world will we leave behind for unborn generations?

Few professions play as critical, and central a role, as communications. And it’s time to rise up to the occasion

That’s why today, I am announcing the inauguration of a couple of initiatives we believe will help call everyone to action; inspire interventions; establish goals and plans to accomplish them; and reemphasize the role we have to play – as individuals; as organisations; as an industry.

  • We have set all plans in motion for November 22, of every year, to be recognised as the Global day of Influence. We can’t compel or force people and companies and governments to be and do better. But as we enter the age of influence, there’s no better time to begin discussing and activating the resources that will drive us towards the kind of leadership we so badly need. The kind of direction we need for our lives, for our families, for our nations. The kind of direction we so badly need for our world.

  • We have also proposed, for July 16, every year, starting 2021, to be World PR Day. PR is more than a terribly misunderstood, poor appreciated, and thus poorly remunerated practice. We believe businesses, countries, and people do, not just practitioners, but themselves a huge disservice, if they continue to fail to see PR for what it is and should be: a strategic aspect of business and governance, invaluable in building relationships, preventing crises, achieving business objectives; pushing national interest, and preventing the kind of confusion that could ruin a company or lead nations to war. I was surprised to discover that there’s not a single day dedicated to PR and Comms. No unified global agenda towards making the world understand and utilize PR better. And we want to change that.

  • We are also today announcing the formation of BHM Qomms, a digital resource intervention that we are building to solve some of the most painful problems facing public relations and communications today: education and training, recruitment, measurement, standardization, compensation, and networks. BHMQomms will replace the BHM App which many of you are familiar with. And we are committing an initial N100 million over the next couple of years.

So today, as we present Nigeria PR Report 2020, a new edition of Concept of Virality, and Plaqad’s Influencer Compensation report, I want to invite you to work with us as we attempt to build the future we believe we all deserve.

This is for you and I; for our children and their children.

This is for everyone from Nigeria to Canada.

For every company, every government.

Everyone.

And It starts today.

It is possible.

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