Public Relations - Is Digital Media the Future? [opinion]
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Chief Executive Officer of Black House Media, Mr. Ayeni Adekunle
Despite the assurance by stakeholders that social media will not be a threat to traditional media, the growth of Internet users through mobile phones and other devices is pointing to the fact that the future of public relations and other communication may be in digital media. Raheem Akingbolu reports
The growth of digital media has continued to soar within and outside Africa. Little by little, the medium is becoming the preferred platform for marketing practitioners to reach their target audience as more consumers now depend on digital applications to access news and information. To be in tune with the global trend, marketing communications practitioners and newspaper owners, whose strengths are in the core traditional media are today raising the stake to level up with the expectations of their patrons.
For the newspaper owners within and outside Africa, the reality seems to have dawn on them and this explains why they now have equally strong online versions of their titles. Of course, the public relations community, who are saddled with the responsibility of taking the message out to the consumers in a subtle manner have also keyed into the new trend. As part of the ways to extend their frontiers in this regard, the African Public Relation Association (APRA) at its last conference in Mauritius dedicated a lecture to digital evolvement and importance.
The paper, with the title; 'Digital Media: The Undisputable Future Of Public Relations' was delivered by the Chief Executive Officer of Black House Media, Mr. Ayeni Adekunle. Observers believe Ayeni was considered as the suitable person for the job because of the strength of his agency in the area of new media.
Through data on the consistent growth of internet, mobile users and social media, Ayeni was able to draw the attention of African practitioners to the importance of digital in public relations. He had argued at the conference that if practitioners mastered the tenets of PR and understood the importance of the psychology of the communities they want to manage, then, they were already on a smooth ride. If the psychology of today's market is tied to digital, then PR practitioners who ignore it does so at his or her peril. To drive home his point, the speaker had made reference to the positions of a few international personalities, who also see digital as the future of PR. For instance, he made reference to the message of the CEO of Media Smith Inc., David Smith, who once viewed social media as a laboratory for understanding more about how people react to traditional media. To Smith, there is urgent need for brand managers in today's market to build on their learning about TV, spots, blogs and the web. In fact, he pushed it further that people should aspire to learn about everything that is posted online.
To Ayeni and his likes, a lot have changed in the market and the PR profession too is no longer the same. According to him, "PR has moved from just that practice that involves how an individual or organization manages to engage its public. Today's PR is about storytelling, it is increasingly about using the understanding of the sociology and psychology of identified publics to weave message into their minute-to-minute lives and have them thanking us for it," He admitted therefore that the internet in Africa is limited by a lower penetration rate when compared to the rest of the world, but pointed out that the people were daily waking up to the need to embrace the global trend. For instance, he made reference to Nigeria's progress in this regard, stating that with close to 50 million people that used the internet, the country had been named among the 20 top countries on the platform. Ayeni dwelt on the sophistication of African consumers and their dynamism, arguing that the future is bright for PR practitioners who take digital marketing serious.
With the 2012 report of Internet World Statistics, which put Nigeria at number 20, the rating means that two per cent of global internet populations of 2.29 billion people are Nigerians. If the trend continues this way, it may be difficult to dispute the fact that the future of PR is tied to digital.
Commenting on his position during a recent interview with THISDAY, Ayeni expressed his concern over the way many PR managers underestimate the amount of investment that needs to be made in social media and the ROI in social media.
He said: "Digital is resource-intensive, but it does not mean that it is "cheaper" than existing PR services. It just means that online and offline approaches are different. If the clients cannot increase the overall PR budget, then we need to recommend that they increase the budget for digital PR at the expense of existing PR services. That is the only way we can lead this change to digital PR."
When PZ Took Hot Robb to Gbagi Market Experiential marketing is fast becoming a major tool for positioning. To some experts, it is more effective than other legs because of the opportunities it provides for consumers to interact with the brand owners. In most cases, the target consumers also have opportunities to experience the products.
For PZ Cussons, manufacturers of the iconic brand -Robb, the platform became relevant recently when it took its new offering 'Hot Robb' to Ibadan. Promoters of the brand and other stakeholders headed for Gbagi market with the activation of Hot Robb, a premium pain relieving ointment on its stable.
The crowd in the market became the major tool for the activation. In fact, the crowd at the main parking lot of the market was to say the least tumultuous as they trooped from all nooks and crannies of the city to join the traders in their moments of joy. To connect more with consumers in that part of the world, the popular fuji artist, Saheed Osupa, a son of the soil, led the activation team. It was a double joy occasion for the consumers as they were not only entertained by the wonderful performance of the fuji artist, they were also rewarded with various gift items while most of them were given free medical services which include, blood pressure check, (BP) massaging and free products sampling.
For the PZ Cussons team, it was a day like no other as the radiantly dressed sales girls made a kill in selling the Hot Robb to ever cheerful and excited consumers. To qualify for the raffle draw which held towards the tail end of the exercise, a consumer must present the ticket of the product bought, hence, the ecstasy amongst them to win gift items in the draw. Most buyers and visitors at the market had great fun as the traders abandoned their shops and wares and took to the dancing floor.
A computer accessory seller, Mr. Oladimeji Muyideen, captured the consumer excitement when he said, "we cannot afford not to be part of this event because, this is the first time a brand is doing this type of thing here especially with our own son, Alhaji Saheed Osupa." Speaking further, he said, "PZ Cusson's Hot Robb activation is innovative and a great event because it allows us to know that the company has the love of our traders and buyers in mind, saying that in most cases, brand owners will like to take popular musicians to event centres or big event halls and not take them to where the traders are located".
Another shop owner, Alhaji Oladimeji Abdulganiyu applauded the Hot Robb activation, saying that offering free medical services to the traders was a good effort by the company. He stated that although the activation affected the trading activities for the day, he was of the view that whatever the traders will lose in sales will be regained through enhanced health care as provided during the free medical services.
"We are losing sales because everybody is involved in dancing and watching the fuji artist's live performance, but we shall regain whatever loss we recorded in sales through the free medical service we have received", he opined.
In the same vein, the health practitioner who was hired by Hot Robb for the Hot Robb Relief Centre free medical services commended the initiative: Speaking during the activation, a medical consultant, Dr. Sekinat Adebola, said, "providing the unique platform of Medical Relief Centre is a charitable gesture for which PZ Cusson's Hot Robb should be applauded.
"For PZ Cusson's to have provided a unique platform for the traders to do necessary checks on their state of health, we should commend PZ, adding that members of the public, especially the traders who never go on holidays should be made to enjoy this type of service. "The public needs to know their health status, especially the traders because of their busy schedules. Any platform that can afford them free access to medical enlightenment is a commendable CSR initiative that other companies should emulate".
Among the hundreds of people that received free check-up during the activation is Mrs. Olalekan Rachael, a resident at Bodija. She commended the company for the initiative and promised to apply the recommendations of the consultants.
Earlier, Marketing Manager, PZ Cussons Mr. Charles Nnochiri, had informed newsmen at the event that the initiative was necessitated by the need to further deepen the market share of Hot Robb in the Nigerian market as well as further bond with its teeming consumers.
The manager explained that the product will now be available and accessible to the consumers across the country. "We are here to inform our consumers that they do not have to look too far to access the product, apart from our strategic sale team that will be bringing the products to your locations, we now have distribution to new outlets (pharmacies and chemists) across Oyo State and Nigeria at large to ensure easy access", he said.
While giving more insights on the brand, he explained that the introduction of the Hot Robb brand had given consumers quality choice that delivers on their expectations.
Copyright This Day. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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