Ali-Balogun urges brands to invest in certified PR practitioners

By Ibidunni Banjoko

Nkechi Ali-Balogun, the Principal Consultant/CEO of NECCI Limited, has urged individuals and organisations to invest in certified public relations practitioners as they’re trained to bring a wealth of expertise, industry knowledge, strategic planning capabilities, crisis management skills, and ethical standards to brands, businesses and personalities.

She said this at the recent Lagos State Nigerian Institute of Public Relations’ (NIPR’s) webinar, which was held in commemoration of the World PR Day. The even had the theme: “Wetin Be Public Relations (PR) Self?”, with a strategic focus on those who are not into PR, or who probably may be interested in joining PR.

According to her, PR is not about beautiful smiles or beautiful faces. It is about knowledge, content, creativity, and communication. PR practitioners can effectively manage public image, enhance brand reputation and navigate complex communication challenges.

Ali-Balogun said: “Investing in a certified public Relations professional is a must for individuals and organizations. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive and rapidly changing business environment and evolving media landscape, you will definitely need a certified public relations practitioner.”

While explaining the core role of PR, she said: “Public relations creates value that will generate awareness. If you want to create awareness, it’s no longer about what you are just doing, you must do something that will create value that will make people to know you.

“Public relations is about engagements; we don’t just inform people, we engage them, interact with them, talk with them, socialize with them, mingle with them, and also join them in whatever they are doing until it becomes a part of them.

“Public relations is not about how much you did, but about how much you have impacted as a professional.”

The PR Amazon further stated that PR is not about what a company says about itself but about what the people say about the company. “If you make noise about yourself when people want to talk about you, what would they say? What is their impression about you? How do they perceive you? If they were to talk about you outside, what are they going to say about you?

“Public relations is about creativity; we don’t take so many messages, we think out of the box, we create stories that make people engage with you. Public relations has moved from mass media to targeted media; we deal with a targeted audience, it’s not all comers affair. If I don’t have any business with youth then I don’t have to engage youth. We target our audience, we map our stakeholders. And because we map them, we know how to convey the messages and customize our messages to suit our audience.”

She recalled that public relations professionals used to be press agents, but are now consultants. “We are now people you need to consult with you; give them a brief and let them know what you want so that we can strategically think about how to help you. We produce content and knowledge. We are content producers. We are not press release distributors. Anybody can do that now, especially in this era of citizen journalism. I can stay in my room and do press releases. So, it’s no big deal. That is not what PR does.”

The PR expert further asserted that public relations promotes a positive narrative about players, organizations, about situations. “As public relations professionals we use a lot of techniques, a lot of tools, and we do it through many channels and through many tools. We analyse trends, make predictions and counsel organizations; after all that we start implementing our programs.

“We work through too many tools. Media relations, crisis management, stakeholder engagement, content creation, social media engagement, events management events amid public affairs, and press releases. Public relations is a strategic and proactive approach to communication, so we need to establish trust, credibility and positive perceptions towards target audiences.”

“Public relations contribute to the overall success and reputation of an organization or individual. Effectively managing public relations and handling crises are shaping public narratives, which is very key. Public relations strategies can be applied to daily affairs and interactions,” she added.

“PR can build and maintain positive relationships and that is the core of our activities. It helps you to understand what people feel about you. Understanding the true nature of public relations helps to dispel misconceptions and foster a more accurate perception of this important discipline. PR is a life wire that everybody must have and I think that’s why you also have it in almost every department in the world,” she concluded.


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