The relevance of PR cannot be overstated – Raheem Olabode

By Ibidunni Banjoko

Raheem Olabode, Executive Director, CMC Connect, has reiterated the relevance of PR in a fast-growing economy like Nigeria’s.  He said that the profession, prior to Covid-19 pandemic, was thriving considerably until it was hit by the crisis which has upended business activities, consequently leading to a global crisis.

According to him, with businesses severely impacted in Nigeria, more organisations require strategic communication to mitigate the negative impact; hence, PR services are needed for survival in a time of uncertainty such as this.

“The outbreak of the pandemic has shifted the landscape across various industries and Public Relations is not exempt. The new normal has heralded a systematic change in our approaches to strategy as the world is now digitally-driven than ever; hence the emergence of new trends.”

He continued: “Artificial intelligence and data are being harnessed to gain insights into consumer behaviour, which is pertinent to determining choices and preferences to tailor messages for the appropriate media to effectively reach them.

“Beyond the digital paradigm shift, consumer engagement has also been flipped on its head as the Covid-19 crisis has changed the expectations of consumers and how brands should communicate with their stakeholders. Perhaps the most significant trend would be conscious communication, which has seen brands pay more attention to tonality in their messaging with more adopting a reassuring tone and demonstrating empathy.”

He pointed out that another noteworthy trend is human connections using social media, which entails brands showing consumers what they can offer beyond products and services through shared conversation. In essence, impact-driven communication has gained relevance in recent times as a result of the pandemic.

Speaking on challenges, he said one of the biggest challenges right now is managing expectations, adding that the unknown variables of the pandemic have made it difficult to manage clients and consumers’ expectations as these are uncertain times.

“Another challenge would be budgeting in relation to ROI. The economic challenges spurred by the pandemic have left a myriad of clients with financial constraints; hence, budgets for PR are getting slimmer whilst the demand for creativity and newer approaches are relatively higher,” he averred.

Olabode concluded: “As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has heralded a fundamental change across sectors and the PR industry is no exception. The most significant change we’ve witnessed is virtual events and conferencing, which became a pervasive trend as a result of physical restrictions. This has, however, become a viable medium to reach a wider range of audiences whilst still deriving value as well as desired results. Clients and audiences alike have grown accustomed to this, thus it won’t be far-fetched to say this is the new normal and it has come to stay.”


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