Interviews

THERE’S NEED TO STRENGTHEN THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK IN PR

John Ehiguese is the President of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) and the CEO of Mediacraft Associates Limited. In this interview, he shares his thoughts wit PR Intelligence Magazine on the development of the PR industry in Nigeria.

Sir, you are the President of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) and the Group CEO of Mediacraft Associates Ltd. How do you juggle these two very demanding jobs?

Well, it can be quite stressful sometimes, but I guess I am coping pretty well. Don’t forget that PRCAN is not run by myself alone.  We have an Executive Committee that takes the major decisions. So it’s team work, and that makes it much easier to handle.

Could you tell us more about Mediacraft Associates Ltd?

Mediacraft Associates is a full-service PR consultancy firm and the exclusive Nigeria affiliate of the FleishmanHillard global network. We have been in business for almost 16 years now, and in that period we have had the privilege of working for several high-profile clients, including some Global 500 firms.

The difference between PRCAN and Nigerian Institute of Public Relations is not clear to many people. Could you throw some light on their roles, especially in regulating Public Relations practice in Nigeria?

PRCAN is a creation of the NIPR in the sense that it derives its legal charter from the NIPR bylaw No. 3 of 1993. PRCAN caters to the consulting side of the PR business in Nigeria. Membership is exclusively corporate, and only PR firms are admitted into membership. However, the heads of such firms must be registered individual members of the NIPR

The competition between PR, Marketing and Advertising is fierce in the current new media environment. What do you think PR agencies can do to survive and grow?

I don’t see it as ‘competition’. I think that, if anything, those three Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) disciplines you mentioned complement each other. There is an increasingly movement in the direction of integration, driven largely by the digital disruption. That said, PR firms who know their onions, in a manner of speaking, will always survive.

Several PR industry research reports, including the European Communication Monitor, CIPR State of the Profession Report and Global Communication Report, have revealed at one time or the other the dearth of talents in the industry. How serious is the problem in Nigeria?

There is indeed a dearth of quality talent, and it is a global phenomenon. It is also tied to the increasing diversity of skill sets and competences need to function effectively in contemporary PR practice.

What is PRCAN doing to tackle the problem?

At PRCAN we have prioritized raining and capacity building;  first, by stepping up our Masterclass Training Programme. It is now held more regularly (at least once every month) and I am glad to report that it is yielding positive results.

How do you manage the problem in your agency?

Simple. We invest heavily in training, both internal and off-site. Our training budget is quite high.

What other challenges does the PR industry in Nigeria face?

Mostly, environmental challenges. By that I mean such challenges as are generic to most other sectors of the economy – the infrastructure deficit, multiple taxation, shortage of quality talent, and so on. Specifically for PR, there is an urgent need to strengthen the regulatory environment, to raise the general quality of practice and to eliminate the high level of quackery currently prevalent in the industry.

What do you think can be done to manage them effectively?

Well, there is no other choice but for the stakeholders of the PR industry to keep working at resolving these problems. It is Work In Progress.