But does Don Jazzy need a PR agency or consultant?
Watch as PR practitioners cringe at this heresy: But the answer is no.
You see, every single human being or organisation on earth needs and deploys public relations – whether they know it or not, whether they pay a team member or a consultant to deliver it, or not.
A major tech chief executive – whom I admire deeply – declared to me with flourish a few weeks ago: I don’t believe in PR. Which was quite a laugh; because, every major funding round and acquisition by the company was accompanied by a press release (media relations).
He runs a popular personal blog that ensures his side of the story is constantly in the public space (issues framing). He has invested extensively in the industry (influencer relations) and has sponsored strategic tech events that drive conversation in the eco-system (sponsorship). All of these are public relations activities, even though he doesn’t call it by that name.
Public Relations is primarily concerned with managing audiences so their perceptions of your brand align with your desired reputation. That means whatever activities you engage in by yourself or through an agent to influence perception is Public Relations.
When people say they don’t need PR, what they actually mostly mean is that they don’t want to employ a professional who can handle their public relations, according to industry practices. Which is fine really (heresy again, but it is).
Because there are many people that don’t need PR agents, just as there are many living souls that don’t need doctors.
Some people are PR machines, with instincts finely honed to what needs to be done and how audiences consume information. Donald Trump is one of them. Rihanna is one of them. Olamide is another. Ben Bruce is one. Mo Abudu is another, as you would have seen the witness the magic from the Fifty movie (Disclosure: EbonyLifeTV and Mo Abudu are clients).
There is the Nigerian king of them all, Don Jazzy.
From the minute he stepped onto the stage, he has played the media and the public like a clarinet. Following fans back on Twitter, engaging with them on Instagram, playing the humility card expertly, managing his appearances, building a desired image, limiting access to interviewers, deploying brand ambassadors to speak for the brand, engaging followers directly and with heart, creating online communities with comeseesumthing.com and fan pages per artiste and of course, the rain of free credit.
Don Jazzy is the king of that most prized of media relations property: positive earned media.
He knows how to get people talking about what he needs, when he needs them, where he needs them, how he needs them and for as long as he wants them to.
Of course, there will be times when Don Jazzy will need specialised PR support; When he has a crisis for one (though, as we could see from the post-Headies flap, he also knows how and when to course-correct); when he goes international and needs media in markets he doesn’t understand; if he decides to build a formal, institutionalised businesses held to a higher standard; if he suddenly finds himself in need of audience attention in other psychographics (i.e. corporate Nigeria), and others.
And he must have needed them when he started out with MoHits and was unsure of the market he was about to enter, even about his own product. But for the normal course of business, he is fine. His instincts are sharp. His successes are plenty. His audience is loyal.
But he needs PR. He knows he needs it. He doesn’t take it for granted. He just doesn’t (today) need an agency to do it.
As a teacher of business, I find that it’s always important to advise businesses on what resources they already own and which they need to source.
There are many people reading this now who have those skills. By law, you can’t provide these services externally without certification from statutory bodies, National Institute of Public Relations or Public Relations Consultants of Nigeria. But let no one waste your time and money if you can apply them to your business and win.
The work of public relations is both simple and wide ranging. It is the act of deciding that this is the reputation you want to use to attract your markets and audiences, and then doing all that you should do to ensure that reputation is communicated to those that need to hear it.
There are various ways to get it done. You don’t have to do a press release or a press conference because that’s what everyone else is doing. You do whatever works best to get your message out and build your desired reputation and engage your audiences – wherever they are and however they prefer.
It is when you don’t have those skills, and you can’t find them efficiently and effectively anywhere around you that you have to step outside yourself to find a person who can help you achieve that desired goal – exactly as it is with all business strategy solutions.
Like I tell many born-again Christians: we don’t need to do God’s work for him in forcing others to believe in Jesus, to believe in His Holy Spirit and for people to live according to a particular doctrine. If the gospel is as strong as it claims, it will convict people to live a righteous like worthy of the Father in heaven. We should be confident in the power of salvation, to save.
It’s the same with PR.
If we truly believe in its power, then we don’t need to lie to people that they need medicines that they clearly don’t. This leads to a loss of credibility and persuasion.
We should be able to say to people: you’re doing such a great job taking care of yourself already because you have great instincts, you think strategically and you create content that rocks your audiences. Keep going. When you need help that’s above what your experience or competence can handle, don’t forget to reach out to us. We’ll be glad to help you succeed.
That’s how true problem solvers play their cards right. That’s how an important profession wins the respect of those it needs to engage.
Photo Credit: TY Bello for ThisDay Style