By Adepeju Adenuga (PR Support, BHM UK)
Public relations was not a top career choice, for me, as a young girl. In fact, I became familiar with the term public relations as an English undergraduate at the University of Lagos.
I had written an essay about how the First Bank of Nigeria branch at the university could satisfy its student market. In 2011, the new generation of banks, especially Guaranty Trust Bank had opened up branches, creating music shows and reducing the amount required to open an account. I handed over my essay to my lecturer with the idea of creating a student ambassador segment to help persuade the students to bank with them. He explained that there is a field of study that focuses on helping organisations maintain high acceptable corporate identity and corporate image and on bridging gaps between the bank and its customers.
It clicked after the session that I had friends who were studying mass communication, specialising in Public Relations. Soon, I started requesting their notes to understand the concepts studied.
Three things I learned in those notes about Public Relations:
- PR is a persuasion business: Remember when you had to convince your mother for a chance to play with your friends after school? That is persuasion. Persuasion is used by public relations practitioners to change or neutralize hostile opinions, solidify potential positive opinions and attitudes, and conserve favourable opinions. The true goal of persuasion is to get someone so convinced about your product and service that they convince others that your suggested brand is the right course of action.
- Public relations professionals are storytellers: As someone with a background in English Literature, I understand that everyone has a story to tell and who best to tell your brand’s story than a public relations practitioner?
- Public relations specialists are ‘shapeshifters’: I don’t mean Avatar, the element shifter. Many public relations officers are image shifters. They help shape the ideas and opinions that the public may have about you or your brand.
It was not until I started working that I registered to study public relations at the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. At the Institute, I made friends while studying for the examinations.
Here is what I learned from the experience:
- Having a community helps you to learn more in a safe environment: Trust me nothing is as hard as reading through a bunch of books you had no previous idea about. While we had PRacademy, getting to study with a group of friends helped a lot.
- You are exposed to new perspectives: Many times you are in your own little bubble and being around people who are also on the same journey can have a positive impact on your growth and development. Relating with so many people exposed me to new ideas and outlooks.
- It provides you with more opportunities: I have been referred for jobs, just from networking with the Public relations industry in Nigeria. I got access to many people who I would not have been able to meet if I had not joined the NIPR community.
- You get to pay it forward: A month later, I got to persuade another friend to join the exclusive network of public relations professionals by also getting certified.
To sum up, there are endless ways to tell your story as an individual and a brand. Public relations helps you tell it better and also gives you opportunities to connect with people who are interested in ensuring you tell your story better.
I am glad I am part of this exclusive community of public relations professionals, as I look forward to helping brands communicate better with their audiences.