Interview/Opinions

We need more qualified PR practitioners to improve professionalism – Obinna Inogbo, MD/CEO, Worktainment

 

Mr Obinna Inogbo is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Worktainment Limited. The suave public relations consultant who produced over 300 episodes of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television in Lagos prior to starting Worktainment Limited is a quintessential PR professional who detests quackery. He believes PR industry needs more qualified practitioners to improve professionalism in the public relations practice.

 

Recently, MediaConsortium team made up of Godwin Anyebe of Consumers Assembly (www.consumersassembly.com), Adetunji Faleye of Brand Impact (www.brandimpact.com.ng), and Amechi Obiakpu of Espinews (www.espinews.com.ng), caught up with him at his Emina Cresent office, off Toyin Street, Ikeja where he talks more on Worktainment and sundry issues… Excerpt:

 

 

What is your assessment of Nigeria’s public relations industry in the past one year taking into consideration Covid-19 and its related issues?

 

The PR industry in Nigeria is fantastic and going on well. Right now, the major hub is Abuja and Lagos. There are over 70 PR agencies practising in the country and they are still in business despite Covid-19 pandemic. That is a sign that PR profession will continue to grow.

 

 

Successful governments both at the federal and state levels do appoint journalists as their spokespersons, is it because they don’t have confidence in PR professionals or they believe that journalists are better for the job?

 

The government view which is the view of many people who are not in PR is that PR is journalism. What anybody who becomes President should do is to contact NIPR for one of the best practitioners in the industry. But what they do in most cases is to appoint journalists because of their frequent bylines. Or because they are well known within the government circle. The case is different in America and the UK. The people who work with the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdoms as spokespersons are professionals who are directors of communications, not journalists or media personnel. PR professionals handle reputation, perception, and they have what it takes to structure the communication strategies of the President. For instance, you and I can count how many times President Buhari addressed this nation. That should not be so. A PR person will make the President see reasons why he needs to address the nation when there is a major issue.

 

 

Do you agree that this industry is saturated?

 

I don’t think PR industry is saturated. We need more PR professionals and agencies that will give room for professionalism. At present we have about 70 members of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN.) Why do I say we need more? More increases your quality level. Competition makes you better. If we have only few agencies we will rest on our laurels which will not help the industry.

 

 

If you should project like how much is quackery taking from the PR industry?

 

The quacks take a small share from the industry compared to what the PR professionals get. The professionals have big accounts because most of them get businesses from big companies. The problem of being a quack is that there are some jobs that you cannot undertake because your capacity is limited in terms of what the client expects from you. What a quack undertakes is media relations because he cannot give what he doesn’t have, while a professional will handle media relations, employee relations, government relations, community relations, crisis management and other aspects of public relations. So, if you are a quack, you are limiting your income because you cannot go beyond a certain point.

 

 

What is your projection for PR industry in the year 2022?

 

The PR industry will continue to grow the way it’s going because of the availability of business opportunities for PR practitioners. More organisations will hire PR agencies while more individuals who can afford it will also hire PR professionals especially now that political activities are around the corner. Top CEO will also hire PR consultants for their personal brands.

 

 

APCON recently launched the Advertising Industry Standard of Operation and there is a section in the document which talks on pitches where brands are mandated to pay a certain amount to agencies they invite for pitches. Can that be applicable to the PR industry as well?

 

The NIPR actually has a law that mandated public relations consultant to stipulate the amount of fees the prospective clients will pay for pitch if it fails to retain the consultant. This is actually in the NIPR law.

 

 

Kindly let us know when and how you started Worktainment?

 

Prior to starting Worktainment, I worked as a television producer for eight years, as a scriptwriter. I produced shows such as Sunrise Daily on Channels Television where I produced over 300 hundred episodes. Apart from that, I wrote for Tinsel on African Magic. I also wrote for the Nigerian British Comedy – Meet The Adebanjos Show. The reason I started the company was because I became disillusioned of being a TV producer. I had to resign when I started battling with how to cope with salaries not being paid on time. I registered the company called Worktainment Limited. Initially, I started doing talent management and TV productions. It didn’t occur to me that talent management and production are part of public relations, I was just working by managing the careers of celebrities and also writing advertisements and skits. It was in 2019, two years after I started Worktainment that I realized if I can manage individuals, I can manage companies. It was at that stage I started doing research about what it takes to manage a company. In my research, I found out that managing the reputation of a company is PR but, I never knew that. It was in 2019 that Worktainment metamorphosed into a full-blown PR company. At this stage, I became resolute that I don’t want to be a quack. I found out about the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations where I started PR course. I took the professional examinations which qualified me to be a public relations professional. I am also an associate member of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations.

 

 

Worktainment sound like an entertainment outfit, what does Worktainment stand for?

 

The name is a combination of work and entertainment. It is a serious yet entertaining organization. I removed ‘enter’ in entertainment and added work to it and became Worktainment because I wanted my entertainment background as a producer to reflect in what we do at Worktainment.

 

 

Kindly tell us some of the public relations campaigns your agency deployed in recent years and how effective are they to the brands?

 

We have done two major campaigns. The first one was a Hashtag #ngchangethenarative. I created it to instil pride in young and old Nigerians. Despite all the challenges in this country I wanted to focus on the positives. There are so many Nigerians doing well at home and abroad. So, every quarter I assembled a list of Nigerians whether at home or in the Diaspora who are doing amazing things. While some are celebrities, some are normal people and I would highlight them on social media. Sometimes I would do a TV interview or radio interview just to publicize the Hashtag and to spread positivity. Also, the hashtag is to educate Nigerians, especially the younger ones who want to escape from the shore of this country, that they can still make it here. Basically, I wanted people to know that you can become successful despite all the challenges.

 

The second campaign was about a short movie that we made. It’s called the History of PR in Nigeria in five minutes. I was inspired to make that film after reading a book called Public Relations Thoughts and Deeds by Mr. Adedayo Ojo who is the MD/CEO of Caritas. After reading the book I was blown away, then I sought for the permission of Mr Adedayo, the publisher to make a movie version of it. He gave me the go-ahead and I made it. It was an online movie and I sent a copy to him. I also sent to some media houses like MarketingEdge and Brandcrunch. I made that movie for people to understand PR more because there are a lot of misconceptions about PR practice in the country. Some people think it’s just media relations. Also, I wanted people who don’t know anything about PR in Nigeria especially students and foreigners to know how it started and how it has evolved. It is surprising that many don’t even know that PR in this country is 163years old.

 

Despite the fact that the two campaigns were not for financial gains, the impact was great. It did well because whenever I go for meetings people acknowledge Worktainment for a good job because of its meaningful impact on the viewers.

 

 

How is your agency leveraging on digital to remain relevant in a fast-evolving industry?

 

Digital space has been everything because it has helped us at worktainment. It has been our selling point. We always tell people to visit our Instagram and other social media platforms for confirmation.

 

 

Which year will you regard as the breakthrough year for Worktainment?

 

We started the company in 2017, interestingly our breakthrough was in 2021 when we had our first retainer account. There are two types of accounts in PR. We have the project base and retainer account. For four years we were getting project base account and in 2021 we got Kawai Technology, a project management company as our first retainer account. We also managed an actress and a broadcaster called Simi Drey currently working for Beat 99 fm. Simi Drey was our first client and we managed her career for two years (2017 to 2019). We were able to increase her visibility in the Nigerian celebrity space. We also got her a muse deal with Ejiro Amos Tafiri in which she served as an inspiration for the designer. We also got her ambassadorial deal with Toti Prima, a lotto company where she would present lottery results and star in the TVC and posters

 

We wrote a commercial for a company called One Finance. We also worked for DJ Jimmy Jatt and got him a deal to be on the cover of Access Bank magazine. There is also a popular presenter called Talula Doherty, an influencer and a presenter who used to present for Ebony Life. We got her and Simi Drey clothing deal with a company called Miskay where Miskay was giving them free clothes in exchange for advertising.

 

 

What distinguishes Worktainment from other PR agencies in the country?

 

What distinguishes us is our client service. When you hire Worktainment we become friends. Even though we are working for you, we become part and parcel of your system. We are not like other agencies that you don’t hear from. We make sure that we call and visit the organization regularly. Part of what we charge you is coming to your office and make sure will do that regularly to meet minds. We also pride ourselves in promoting employee relations, making the staff of an organisation feel that the company cares about them.

 

 

What should we be expecting from Worktainment in year 2022?

 

What people should expect from Worktaiment is that we will deploy more creative innovations with our retainers account. Each New Year has always been better than the previous year, this year will not be different. Though 2021 was our breakthrough year, 2022 is going to be better for Worktaiment. For instance, we have one retainer client and some other project base jobs last year. I predict we are going to have more retainers account this year and more staff. More staff because the work is getting bigger.

 

 

What is your projections for Worktainment for the next 2 years.

 

In the next two years, we will like to move to bigger office space, hire more employees. We will also like to be competing with the best agencies at the highest level in the PR space.

 

What is your advice to the young people who want to start career in public relations?

 

My advice to young professionals is that they should develop a passion for writing because 70 per cent of PR work is writing. You write speeches, press releases, opinion pieces and minutes of meetings. They should also understand that writing goes with reading, meaning that they have to inculcate the habit of reading which will enhance their writing ability. You cannot be a good writer if you are not a good reader. They also need to join NIPR to enhance their acceptability in the PR industry. Lastly, they must understand the business aspect of the profession.

 

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