Navigating the Shifting Seas of Leadership, Public Relations, and Value Creation: Insights from Lampe Omoyele
Lampe Omoyele, the Managing Director of Nitro 121 was the guest speaker at the recently concluded National Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Conference, Annual General Meeting (AGM), and Elections in Abuja. Addressing a distinguished audience that included the Honourable Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mallam Idris Mohammed; immediate past and current senators, Fellows and members of the NIPR among others, Omoyele delved into the intricate relationship between leadership, public relations, and value creation, shedding light on the evolving economic and business terrain, the challenges and opportunities for the PR industry, and the role PR professionals must play to navigate these changing dynamics.
His address commenced with a comprehensive situational analysis, highlighting the complexities of the modern world. Drawing on a PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legislative, and Environmental factors), he emphasized the prevalence of a relentless cycle of flux and the VUCA environment—characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Against this backdrop, economic and socio-political upheavals, intensifying international rivalries, and a growing consumer preference for trustworthy brands in an era of eroding trust became salient points of discussion.
Intriguingly, Omoyele underscored the paradox that this context presents—an array of opportunities for the public relations industry: “The challenge for the Nigeria PR industry therefore is to be fit for purpose in the rapidly changing global and local world of nations, business and brands. What does the industry need to do to earn greater respect and enhance business profitability?”
The crux, he noted, lies in recognizing these openings and leveraging them effectively. Anchoring his discourse in foundational principles, Omoyele explored the essence of public relations as the strategic communication process that cultivates mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their stakeholders.
To set the stage, Omoyele revisited the fundamental tenets of public relations. Drawing on authoritative sources such as the Public Relations Society of America and Investopedia, he unveiled the core essence of PR – a strategic communication process designed to construct constructive relationships between entities and their diverse publics. This process involves meticulously managing perceptions to cultivate trust and credibility, thereby fostering avenues for mutual value generation.
He probed the evolution of PR practice in Nigeria, noting the transition from tactical to strategic yet acknowledging that reactivity still prevails in many quarters. He also challenged the industry to transform its approach, shifting from a traditional agency-client model to a business partnership/consultancy model. This transformation, he argued, aligns with the fundamental principles of marketing—offering value to receive value. Central to this shift is PR’s ability to transcend its tactical origins and be perceived as a value-driven partner.
Clients need proactive business advisors not reactive ‘Yes’ men or women; the industry needs to have big picture mind-set.
Also recognizing the industry’s tendency toward tactical and reactive modes, Omoyele stressed the need for strategic and proactive approaches. He emphasized that clients, including large advertisers, seek the “3Fs” – Faster, Fresher, and a Fraction of the Cost – a reason PR professionals need to transition from being mere service providers to strategic consultants.
“Clients want you to mind their business just as you mind yours. Strive to move from an Agency-Client service model to a business partnership/consultancy model. To have increasing impact and earn greater respect, the industry needs to own high level business strategy. That is how management consultancies have differentiated themselves, as well as offering creative solutions and analytics. Clients need proactive business advisors not reactive ‘Yes’ men or women; the industry needs to have big picture mind-set.
“To persuade organisations to spend on PR you need to show increasing value. Clients are more discerning and the engagement process is central to convince them to spend. Break down what you do in little chunks and cost by element so they know what value each part of your proposal brings and they see how the sum of the parts fit to overall goal or strategy,” he emphasized.
Acknowledging the digital revolution, Omoyele addressed the competitive context where technology, digital media, and influencer marketing are rewriting the rules. He highlighted how even non-local entities can now craft communication from anywhere, posing a challenge to local agencies.
He also deemed the rise of technology giants and management consulting firms entering the PR arena a significant threat, calling for innovation, tech integration, and potential collaborations to stay ahead. “The digital revolution inspires marketers to introduce new services and experiences powered by Technology. AI with ChatGPT et al has heightened the challenge for PR.
“The threat from management consulting firms and technology companies such as Deloitte, Accenture, PWC, KPMG and IBM at a global level is real. According to a Forbes April 2016 article written by Avi Din titled ‘Consultants are eating the Agencies’ three-Martini lunch, many have created advertising agencies in recent years mostly through the acquisition of agencies that have capabilities in user experiences, digital marketing, design, web and mobile. They are challenging traditional agency giants like WPP, Publicis and Omnicon. Deloitte acquired the full advertising agency Heat to create what it refers to as ‘the world’s first creative digital consultancy’. IBM acquired 3 online ad agencies last year to create IBMiX the world’s largest digital agency. The PR industry should be alert to this,” he warned.
PR companies should seek to grow with clients and not waiting for the established ones. You must be willing to invest your time and capital with start-ups and grow with them. Create the future of the industry now.
He also gave a compelling perspective on the potential of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. Quoting a 2015 report by SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria) and the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, Omoyele highlighted SMEs’ significant contribution to Nigeria’s GDP. This untapped potential, he argued, could push the PR industry forward: “Whilst multinational manufacturers, banks and telcos contribute the bulk of current marketing communication expenditure, the PR Industry should begin to tap into the vast opportunity that can be derived from creating specialised, cost-effective PR campaigns for small businesses. PR companies should seek to grow with clients and not waiting for the established ones. You must be willing to invest your time and capital with start-ups and grow with them. Create the future of the industry now,” he advised.
Omoyele delved into the competitive landscape’s transformation, the prospect of mergers and acquisitions, and the necessity of building human capital. He underscored the importance of attracting skilled individuals to the PR industry and fostering passion among the upcoming generation: “Future thinking PR companies are working with media channels and clients to create the best ideas. There may be need in the near future for PR companies to consolidate certain services especially media and creative.”
While urging them to consider mergers and acquisitions, he noted: “It’s interesting to note that agencies in Nigeria drive for affiliation or mergers with global agencies but the drive for such locally to exploit synergies is low, if at all existent.”
Omoyele concluded with a powerful message on the role of PR in reshaping perceptions. Drawing on his own experiences in Kenya, he highlighted the negative stereotypes associated with Nigeria and the consequential impact on its global standing. PR, he argued, has the power to change these narratives, citing examples of countries like Spain and South Africa that successfully transformed their image through deliberate efforts.
“Living in Kenya for some years highlighted to me the power of perception and adverse positioning of Nigeria in the minds of many of the rest of the world. Aggressive, domineering, loud, corrupt, and not to be trusted, are some of the colourful adjectives used to describe Nigerians.
“Often times, these perceptions have translated into unfavourable attitudes and behavior towards Nigerians by non-Nigerians. As is common knowledge, travelling around the world with a green passport can be hazardous to your health (physical and emotional).
“I am sure many of us have stories to tell. Such as the story of the Kenyan woman who declined pressure from her husband to have a fifth child having already had four, on the basis that she had heard that every fifth African is a Nigerian!” he concluded.