Nigerian PR firms are suffering, and there are a number of reasons why. One leading Nigerian PR firm, BlackHouse Media is reported late in their staff payments for the first time in years. And this is not even a faltering agency. BlackHouse Media, a member of BHM Groups, works for two multi-national firms, it has a digital advantage over its competitors in the market and works for media giants.
In 2014, BlackHouse Media launched the country’s first PR application, recording over 1 billion social media impressions for client campaigns. The following year it launched ID Africa, the company’s digital agency. Yet, cash flow is a problem.
Many agencies in Nigeria are in the same, if not worse, predicament. They struggle to pay staff and contractors while creative agencies, media independents, and digital marketing companies flourish.
What is the root cause of this?
It is widely believed this is a result of PR agencies not charging as much, resulting in low budgets and the failure to obtain retainers. Therefore, great talents flee, usually to the advertising agencies or direct client work. This migration is at an all- time high, with most agencies in a 2015 survey losing senior consultants in the preceding year.
And there are other reasons. When government or management plans and strategies, PR is seldom consulted; except to manage press events or for traditional media relations. On the client side, they do not receive value, nor any appreciable help handling social media. And they lack creativity in storytelling and community management as well.
On the agencies’ side, they share their frustration at low pay levels and not being allowed to work with top management. Even Nigeria’s government hires unqualified PR people. And numerous private, as well as public, organizations hire unregulated agencies for their PR work in Nigeria. As a result, many big agencies cannot compete with the salaries and have owed employees up to three months wages. Even creative and media agencies are suffering from these practices. But PR agencies are suffering the most.
What can be done on the part of PR agencies to turn this around? Something other than their normal approaches. Nigeria has a population of mostly young people in rural, semi-urban, and urban area, estimated at 200 million. And there are an estimated 195 million active mobile phones in Nigeria. With a GSM subscriber base of almost 150,000,000, it has the highest internet penetration rate in Africa at an annual growth of about 4 million.
With this kind of wide open market and creative ideas, skillful PR marketing, and expertise, what more potential could one want?