Interviews

RUNNING A PR AGENCY IS NOT A TEA PARTY – RARZACK OLAEGBE

Your PR agency, eMaginations Communication provides a wide range of digitalized public relations services. Tell us more about what you do.

We offer a basket of bespoke services to suit our clients. For some clients, we offer stakeholders management, thought leadership, custom publishing and counseling. For others, we offer newsletter strategy, designing, content development and publishing. For some, we offer web designing, web content management, online marketing strategy, event development and management. And yet, for some, we undertake research and intelligence gathering. It depends on what a client requests.

You are a co-founder and deputy Managing Director of eMaginations Communication. What does it take to set up and manage a PR agency successfully?

You need experience to run any business successfully. Whether you are running an advertising or PR agency, you are in business. And business has its own language. You need to learn and understand the language of business. If you are not speaking the language of business, you may not get the business. Running a PR agency is not a tea party. If you do not have a pillar to lean on, your job as a business man becomes difficult. And as such, to succeed you would need to distinguish yourself through your service offering.

To succeed in business you need to first succeed in your mind. My MD and other team members have sat at the feet of the masters and learnt valuable lessons in the area of financial management, getting the right team and ensuring your team is intact. However, if you do all the right things, that would not stop even your best team member from leaving. It is a fact of life. Some of these lessons are not taught in Business Schools. You have to pick them on the streets. Some of the lessons come from failing and getting back up. The lessons taught have been guiding our thoughts. It takes experience. To set up and manage a PR agency takes gut, grace, being more and giving more to clients.

Can you give us a breakdown of your roles and responsibilities as the DMD of eMaginations.

I work with a team. Together we work on the business and in the business. We manage the business, clients, client-contacts, journalists, bloggers, contractors, consultants, partners, an so on.

 What challenges do you face managing an agency like yours in Nigeria?

The usual challenges… power failure, meeting impossible deadlines, paucity of funds and juggling several balls daily without the option to drop any of them.

How do you manage these challenges to stay afloat?

Someone said: “to keep calm without, you must keep calm within”. First, you need to keep a calm mind to be able to handle and successfully manage the myriads of balls thrown at you every day. When you are calm, you are at a vantage position to understand the challenge and strike deal effectively and efficiently. You need a strong team that you can rely on to handle different situations. You need reliable partners that can respond to crises without breaking in two. If you cannot manage your own internal challenges, you cannot manage clients’ external challenges.

 

The PR profession is going through a rapid transition in the face of evolving communication technologies. What advice do you have for teachers, students and professionals? 

I will say that they should go with the flow. You need to keep abreast of trends in your space. That is the only way. There is no alternative to keeping abreast of trends in your career. As a teacher, you need to know what would trend in PR before it trends. As a student, you need to follow the trend. As a professional, you need to know what would trend and communicate it to your clients quickly. It is called “living on the tower”.

How does your agency manage this transition?

We practice what we preach. We embraced technology very early in our practice, having reported ICT beat as journalists. The lure of technology is still strong for us. We are close to our technology partners to discover the next technology and how to make it work for clients.

How are your clients reacting to this transition?

That is a piece of cake. We work with technology clients.

Do you think digital agencies are posing a serious threat to PR?

No. Digital PR agencies and legacy PR agencies are not competitors. They are collaborators. Paper will not go out of fashion. Books will not go out of fashion. Newspapers are here forever. Whatever is read online would eventually get published. Whatever is published ends online. However, legacy PR agencies need to understand how the digital works. That is a plus to the business.

What’s the way forward for PR?

It’s simple. Embrace technology. Be a specialist. Do not be a generalist. Deepen your offering. Be more. Give more.