Digital may be useless without a sound marketing strategy – Bolaji Okusaga

QuadrantMSL Group is one of Nigeria’s leading Public Relations Consultancies. The agency has in its portfolio such multi-national clients as Philip Morris, British Airways, Microsoft Mobile, Coca-Cola, Etisalat Nigeria, Standard Chartered Nigeria, GSK Nigeria, Google, SAP, Intel, CNN and a host of local corporations in Nigeria. The Company delivers the right perception for these clients using a combination of brand communication, reputation management, media relations, corporate lobby and government relations. The Quadrant Company, as it is popularly called, won the Award of the African PR Consultancy of the year, the most prestigious international award in Public Relations by the Holmes Report/Sabre Awards.

And, leading the team at TQC as its managing director is Mr. Bolaji Okusaga, a strategy and brand expert with wide experience in the Mass Media, Marketing, Public Relations and Banking. As a digital enthusiast himself and his agency having leapfrogged on to the digital space, both for self and for clients, the erudite professional expresses his priceless views on issues relating to the subject in this interview. Excerpts:

How would you trace the evolution of Nigerian PR agencies’ embrace of the digital and in what ways has your agency, in particular, keyed into the digital?

Every business that has a traditional history must have been forced to inculcate digital. That has been happening in the last one decade. Today, any business that is just adopting digital is a late adopter. PR is not different. But it is more important for communication-based service businesses like PR to quickly adapt because the majority of consumers that PR tries to influence are now heavily residing online. Today, offline media such as radio, television and print appears to be trailing behind due to the massive followership of online media. Today, we are seeing radio stations having a news websites; we are seeing a television station owning a news website and a YouTube channel; we are seeing newspapers now having online TV channels in addition to very active news sites. In Nigeria, the embrace was kind of slow. But clients are increasing demanding exposure to the huge online traffic and so PR agencies will have no other choice but to adapt.
At QuadrantMSLGROUP, we are deep into digital as an effective channel to reach various audience groups. From paid, earned, shared and owned media, our strategies are designed to help clients to bridge the gap between them and their various audiences. And in doing so, we employ both offline and online solutions that will meet our clients’ needs.

Generally speaking, would you say Nigerian agencies are catching up with global trends in the digital? If they are, to what extent is it?

They are. The pace might be slow. It could be much better. Communication has become democratized. This year, statistics have it that there are about 2.3 billion social media users, 1.97 billion active users of social on mobile, and 3.42 billion internet users. This is a lot and the trend will keep going up. Some of the challenges that PR had can now be addressed using technology. One of such challenges is measurement. Today, technology has made metrics and analytics a lot easier such that results and impact can easily be tracked on digital dashboards.

How have agencies which are already playing in the digital space in Nigeria been able to help brands build equity and market share on the one hand and impacting on the bottom-line on the other? Could you let us into how TQC, in particular, is doing this?

We drive thought leadership initiatives both offline and online, depending on which audience sets we are addressing. We make use of digital to amplify specific contents. We extend reputation management into the online space; we monitor big data and engage in social listening so we can influence positive perception for our clients. Influencer engagement and exploration of paid channels are also some ways in which we apply digital for clients’ benefit.

Given your vantage position of promoting brands across the various sectors, how, in your privileged opinion, are the different economic sectors catching up with this (digital) bug in Nigeria?

Some sectors, especially those within the private sectors, are doing well to keep up with the opportunities that digital offers. Tech-based companies are doing well in this regard. However, there are still a lot of rooms for organizations to use digital to their advantage.

What is your take on proliferation of agencies in Nigeria’s digital space vis-à-vis regulation?

Digital marketing and communication services come in different shades and shapes. To this effect, it might be difficult for the regulating agencies. However, digital, in our opinion, still remains high traffic channel for marketing communications. But on its own, digital may be useless without a sound marketing strategy. So if you drill down, you will still end up seeing it as a marketing function.
Could you talk in some details about TQC and its foray into digital marketing – both for self and for clients?

We plan and develop the best strategies that can work for our clients. And if digital comes up in the equation, then we will apply it.


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