Why we can’t have specialist PR agencies – Ehiguese

John Ehiguese
The engagement of public relations consultancy agencies in a wide range of PR services as a means of survival coupled with the narrow, one-dimensional nature of the market environment where the agencies operate are some of the reasons why there is a dearth of specialist PR agencies in Nigeria presently..

According to him, one of the factors that can lead to the immediate and robust escalation of specialist PR agencies is the identification of a huge number of clients who operate in a particular sector and desire such expert services.

He said, “What we tend to have in this environment is full service PR firms who do just about anything from event management to media relations to sponsorship, people who gamble in a broad range of PR services and that’s like a survival strategy.

“I don’t think we have gotten to a level yet where we can bring out specialist PR firms. They are a couple of them that are emerging but I don’t think the mainstream can actually begin to look at that as a strategy right now. So, what we have is everybody doing a bit of everything just to survive. Anything that comes you won’t turn it down, you just have to keep going until you identify a critical mass of clients in a particular sector, then you can say I want to become a specialist technology PR firm or a specialist CSR firm and so on but I don’t think right now that proposition is entirely viable.

“The market is not yet big enough and deep enough to have specialist PR firms. As time goes by, as the market matures and becomes more developed, we are likely to have specialist PR consultancies.”

The PR guru also stated that public relations practice in Nigeria has not reached the desirable heights envisaged by practitioners and this he partly attributed to the shortage of impulse by clients to demand their agencies to do something extraordinaire, warning his colleagues to step up their game or be caught off guard.

Another reason as espoused by Ehiguese as a challenge for PR practice in the country is the paucity of investment on qualitative research.

In his words, “In Nigeria, the level of growth has not being as impressive as it should be and that’s partly because the clients are not demanding, they’re not making demands on the PR practitioners in terms of what they expect. But we don’t have to wait for that, we have to begin to raise our game because if we don’t do it, as we begin to get very knowledgeable and sophisticated clients in the market place, they are going to begin to demand those kinds of services and if we don’t provide them other agencies would come from overseas and set-up shops like they are doing already and take over the business from us. So, it’s a challenge to every one of us to begin to raise our game.

“So, there is a huge future for PR but we are still at the very elementary level and part of the challenge that we have, a very important challenge is that we don’t make enough investment in research because creativity is also coming largely to play in PR, there’s a lot of creativity involved in PR now and creativity is driven by insight which you get from research. So, we will have to begin to invest more in research to gather data, there is not enough data on PR practice in Nigeria.”

The Chief Executive Officer, MediaCraft Associates Limited also disclosed that despite the difficult start of the year as a result of the political climate in the country which affected businesses generally, MediaCraft have their “heads above water” in terms of business noting that talks have reached an advanced stage to with a reputable global PR agency with the aim of affiliating his agency with the renowned PR firm.

“I think that we are doing well, we are heads above water, we continue to get new enquiries for business opportunities especially from overseas almost on a daily basis, people are coming asking for opportunities to do business with us and we are also at the point of consummating an affiliation agreement with an international network. So I think that regardless of how slow this first half of the year has been, we can look forward to a very active second half of the year”, Ehiguese said.

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