We are helping PR fulfil its destiny. Those were the exact words of the President, Public Relations Consultants of Nigeria (PRCAN), Mr Israel Opayemi while welcoming guests and members to the association’s Breakfast Meeting, held to discuss the ‘Nigerian Economic Outlook in 2020, and its Implications for the Marketing Communications Sector’.
Opayemi had explained that, by organising the event, the association was only living up to the dreams of its forebears, who had established the profession, in 1972, as the art and science of analysing trends, predicting their consequences, counselling organisational leaders and implementing planned program of actions.
According to the PRCAN boss, the meeting was to provide the opportunity for practitioners to understand the primacy of data to planning, be it for individual or corporate purposes.
“Data basically helps you predict the future. It helps with forecast, it helps with planning, whether it’s a nation or a business,” he stated.
He however expressed grave concerns at the obvious paucity of data to work with by professionals in the country, a development, he argued, had not helped the cause of business.
“We, in PRCAN, are indeed very worried. Has it ever occurred to you that in several gatherings when you ask, what is Nigeria’s population, the answer varies according to who you are asking? So it simply means that today somebody says we are 203 million people, while others say it’s 210million. So there is a gap issue, already, that will hamper whatever planning you intend to put in place.
“If a nation falsifies its population census, that economy is doomed. The foundation of everything is data, and when the foundation is faulty, what can the righteous do?
“So we are doing this to enrich our members. We promised our members and indeed our clients, better business in 2020. And there will never be better business unless there is data to plan, unless there is profound understanding of the macro-economic issues that will shape doing business in Nigeria,” he stated.
“We are helping PR to fulfil its destiny. In the summer of 1972, our forebears gathered in the city of Mexico, and they were looking for a descriptive definition of Public Relations, and they said PR is the art and science of analysing trends, predicting their consequences, counselling organisational leaders, implementing planned program of actions, of course, ensuring that this is done in the organisation and in public interest,” Opayemi stated.
Opayemi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Chain Reactions, added that the discourse would also enable members have profound understanding of what would shape businesses in Nigeria, in the new year.
He expressed the belief that besides enriching the association’s members, the meeting would also help their respective clients, with available data on the nation’s business and economy for appropriate planning.
In his keynote lecture, at the seminar, the Guest Speaker, renowned economist and member of the Presidential Economy Advisory Council (EAC), Mr. Bismarck Rewane predicted a large-scale growth for the Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications industry in Nigeria in the 2020 fiscal year on account of available economic indices.
Rewane, identified Telecommunications, Retail and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), as three key sectors that would play significant roles in the growth process.
According to him, with the Federal Government introducing interventionist’s policies and subsidies, tendency for more businesses to spring up, is rather, resulting in increased spending on advertising and marketing communications generally.
Rewane who identified three key areas such as agriculture, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors as major drivers of the Nigerian economy in 2020, stated that notwithstanding the likelihood of a slow GDP growth rate at 2.2 per cent, the impact of government intervention policies, businesses are likely to increase spending on PR, advertising and branding in 2020.
The renowned economist listed some of the game-changing events that would shape growth for PR industry and the Nigerian Business economy in general in 2020.
Some of such projects and initiatives, he added, include construction projects like the Lekki Deep Sea Port, Lagos-Ibadan Railway, the newly introduced Finance Act, Border Closure Policies, the cost-reflective electricity tariff policies, and the cashless policy and PSB licensing of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to him, those projects are bound to expand the economy and attract more foreign direct investments, thereby increasing productivity for the industry and the country as a whole.
X-raying the nation’s economy vis-a-vis its standing 15 years ago, Rewane lamented the fact that the despite the Vision 2020 Plan, Nigeria still lags behind on various economic fronts and indices.
“Many years ago we had Vision 2020 and we had financial services Vision 202020. It’s time to ask ourselves what we promised, we would do in the year 2020 and where are we today. If we don’t do that, all that will happen again is to promise and leaving such promises unfulfilled,” he argued.
Rewane argued that one of the challenges facing the implementation of such long-term planning remains the fact that the government that made such promises would no longer be around to give account of why the plan never worked.
“What did we promise that will do in 2020? Five main goals. One of which was that we will be among the top 20 economies in the world. Second, to be the largest economy in Africa; third, that we will be the most attractive destination for capital; fourth, that the financial sector will be driving the economy, and also have diversified the economy away from oil dependence.
“Today we are 26th largest economy. But, by the time we made that promise we were 28th that means we haven’t made much progress. We are the largest economy in Africa, now, but by the time we were making such promise, the gap between Nigeria and the second largest economy was almost like 20 percent. So even though nominally and directionally, we are moving in the right direction, our competitive advantage has actually declined,” he added.
According to him, while the average flow of FDI, annually at that time, was $5 billion, the country now runs at an average of $2 billion annually. Besides, in 2004, N25 billion minimum capital for banks, which was equal to $200million, formed 75 per cent of the market capitalisation in stock exchange, while it has reduced to about 40 per cent.
He however counseled PR professionals on the need to fulfill their key roles of reputation management and brand enhancement.
This, he added, had become more imperative since brands are no longer domestic, but global.
“Your role is key, because reputation management, brand enhancement are key. Brands are no longer domestic because of free entry and exit and near perfect market, therefore we need to look at global economy and see in what context you fit in.
“We are no longer living in a ‘Robin Crusoe’ economy. We are not living in closed border situation we are living in a global world. Even if policies show signs of protectionism, the truth is that globally, the world is one.
Global brands are global brands. Multinational companies have no country of residence, they are loyal to nobody,” he added.
While decrying the neglect of PR professionals by government in the management of public affairs, Rewane noted that it has become imperative for government at all levels, including the Federal Government to see PR professionals as the only body best suited to help shore up its reputation, engender goodwill, gain credibility in the face of mistrust that had become commonplace in the heart and minds of Nigerians.
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