Why Clients Don’t Respect PR, Advertising Rules- Baseone COO
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Baseone Consulting Limited, Lagos, Saheed Adeola Lawal has a very tough mien but his soft voice contradicts the look.
Granting an interview to Gtechnews took almost one year as he was skeptical of the online platform but when he finally agreed to it, there was no stopping Lawal as he bares it all to Olabisi Olaleye.
The COO disclosed that the devaluation of naira has indeed impacted the industry negatively and even more aggravated by Covid-19, which currently is at its tipping point. When further prodded on his major worry, Lawal said prospective clients do not respect set rules laid down by Public Relations and advertising agencies.
Baseone Consulting Limited is an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and a media planning/buying agency established in 2017 to carve a niche in the IMC space. The IMC is currently facing challenges like other sectors due to Covid-19 pandemic, even the financial institution have placed an embargo on offering business loans to players in the industry. Howbeit, we are innovating to remain relevant in such unfriendly business environment because the IMC space is used to such unfriendliness. In this clime, prior to the pandemic, whenever other sectors experience a down turn in their businesses, the first unit, budget is sliced is their Corporate Services which they regard as cost centers, subsequently, their Advertising consultant’s revenue is trimmed. Reason coronavirus pandemic should not be a worst case scenario for any innovative IMC player and Baseone Consulting is constantly tweaking its operational model to enable us adapt accordingly
Right now, the current global economy is impacting negatively especially in dollar and naira wide gap, how has this affected your business?
The global business environment has been negatively impacted by Covid-19 pandemic, no sector has been spared, the foreign exchange rate with our local currency, naira, has for more than five years now been experiencing devaluation against the major trading currencies including the USD, British Sterling and Euro. The situation has been made worse by the pandemic, though the Federal Government through the instrumentality of the CBN has been undertaking a balancing act to stabilize the naira. This being as it may, also afforded the government to promulgate policies that would encourage locally produced goods and services, closure of our borders to stem the tide of smuggled foreign goods and the provision of an enabling business environment, all in a bid to reduce the demand on forex and grow local industries.
Advertising and public relations are two different things but these days, you discover that most agencies handle both, shouldn’t there be a distinction?
In the business of IMC practice, PR, advertising, brand communications/management, brand implementation/activation and data mining are all under one umbrella. Given this narrative, an IMC Agency, can practice both Advertising and PR so long as it has specialized staff in its employ, only if its PR staff are certified by NIPR (Nigeria Institute of Public Relations), while its Advertising staff has APCON registration (Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria). APCON in over two years is just having a constituted Council/Board and in the absence of a constituted Council, implementation of its rules had been hindered as far as practice is concerned.
There are several quacks out there, what is AAPCON, NIPR and PRCAN doing to ensure a saner and trusted industry?
Both NIPR and PRCAN (Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria) have not been able to really put their feet down on seemingly illegal practice by Agencies lacking appropriate accreditation. Meanwhile, in reality, some PR Agencies, who profess to be experts in practice, don’t have any of their staff registered/certified by NIPR, neither is the Agencies PRCAN registered. Sometime in 2014, APCON had extensively deliberated and was going to make it a law for practitioners in IMC or Advertising to obtain practice license yearly, but it has not seen the light of day. Meanwhile, the umbrella association of all IMC/Advertising Agencies, AAAN (Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria), is expected to regulate and protect member Agencies from people establishing Advertising Agencies without the fulfillment of proper registration prerequisites that enables them to function and provide such services to both product and corporate brands.
After a failed pitch, how do your reinvent and restrategise your next one?
On failed pitch, if the relevant professional organizations performed their statutory roles, prospective clients would respect our rules that stipulate that Account/Client Pitches involving either PR or Advertising Agencies, the losing Agencies in such pitches should be compensated to a prescribed amount, but you have a situation that both parties (Advertising & PR Agencies), have no regard for the rules.
How would the prospective clients respect the rules? Our next door neighbour, Benin Republic upholds the rules to the extent that only registered Agencies can place media buy on their media platforms. For us at Baseone we take each pitch as it comes, if we win, we celebrate and thereafter, investigate what we did right and how to better it for the future. Similarly, same thing applies when we lose a Pitch.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
We went for a pitch presentation in collaboration with another Agency, our area of contribution, was providing the media plan/budget document and when it was the Agency’s turn, we were surprised and embarrassed to see that both the strategy and creative documents had been altered by the Lead Agency without our knowing, it took both the Grace of God and our collective industry experience to make a 360 U-turn to align our document with the new strategy document. It was a real scare.
How do you relax as a busy executive?
The IMC business is very stressful and creatively time consuming requiring a lot of knowledge consumption, so the simple relaxation mode would be a combination of reading a book sometimes, taking a drive, stroll or visiting interesting sites or friends. These relaxation modes helps recreates the mind for better business strategy.
What do you want people to remember about your company?
We pride ourselves as brand communications/management solutions providers irrespective of the market space challenge that the clients’ brands are going through, we would always partner with them to deliver impactful solutions. That would be our legacy.