Every PR professional must learn to draw the line – Akonte

By Felicia Nwosu
Akonte Ekine, the Lead Strategist of Absolute PR Limited, has cautioned that every Public Relations professional must learn to draw the line by separating himself from the organization during any crisis management. This is against the backdrop where public relations officers express their personal opinions against the public without thinking about the represented firm during crisis.
Akonte emphasized the need for PR professionals not to let off guard in their reaction to crisis to avoid hurting the consumers or creating a more negative ripple effect. The Promoter of Consumers Value Awards tasked them to speak with caution and as representative of a brand and not for themselves. He charged them to leverage communicative actions that will help create mutual understanding with relevant stakeholders instead of inflaming the crisis with unbridled tongues.
“It is because you are wearing the cap of a company representative that is why they
come to you. If you are not there, they will not come to you. I tell a lot of people that the only reason people put the microphone before you, is the place you sit. Not you. Once you do not occupy that position, they will not give you that. I think there must be a laid down crisis management situation. So on the average, every PR firm person must learn to draw the line, to understand that this is not my personal issue where I must speak my own opinion. Once you leave that position, nobody is going to ask you for your opinion any longer, because your opinion will be insignificant.”
He continued: “The truth is that the only reason we are qualified to speak is because of that company we are representing. Otherwise, you are like every other person. So long as you are going to speak, you are going to speak from the position of the company. And if you are not speaking from the position of the company, in whose capacity are you speaking? That would be the big question. Everybody that works in the PR firm or represents a company has no opinion. The only opinion is the opinion of the company.”
The PR expert urged image-makers to understand where the consumers are coming from with their complaints, and pacify them from the perspective of the organization. He condemned the culture of PR professionals jumping to respond to social media conversations by exchanging words with consumers on the platform without speaking from the angle of the company they represent.“Most times when they speak, they say they’re speaking in their own opinion. No, it is not your opinion. The only reason you are talking is because you wear the cap to speak. You are speaking on behalf of that firm, so that company itself is what you are representing.

“Anything you say represents the company. Whether the company is aware or not. So, it is important that when you wear such a position, you don’t jump into conclusions. The first mistake is jumping into conclusions; allow authorities to even make remarks before reacting,” Akonte advised.


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