The first World Public Relations Conference in Emerging Economies took place in Nairobi, Kenya from November 17 to 18, 2015. The programme hosted by the Public Relations Society of Kenya and supported by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management drew participants from across the world as they came from both emerging (developing) and emerged (developed) economies including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), Switzerland, Spain, United Arab Emirate (UAE), Argentina, India, and Singapore amongst others.
The conference with the theme, Experience how Emerging Economies can be Inspiring Centres for Innovation and Change, held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) with opening remarks from the Chairman of the Public Relations Society of Kenya, Jane Gitau where she enumerated how Kenya through the support of the Kenyan government came to host the World Conference on Public Relations in Emerging Economies (WCPREE) and the contributions of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to the success of the event from the planning stage to implementation and participation to the admiration of the participants which represent over 160,000 members of the Global Alliance across the world.
In his address tagged Public Relations in Emerging Economies, the Chair of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication, Prof. Gregor Haiff charged public relations practitioners to seize the opportunities presented by the profession in order to get a better deal for their countries in the comity of nations.
The government of Kenya, which supported the conference strongly, was well represented at the event. The officials included the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT); Permanent Secretary of the ICT Ministry and Members of the country’s parliament amongst others.
The conference started with Paul Holmes from the USA. He spoke on the topic, Achieving Sustainable Development in Emerging Economies through Effective Public Relations. Nigerians who presented papers at the sessions included the President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Dr. Rotimi Oladele, FNIPR. He spoke on the topic, Public Relations as a Driver of SME’s Growth in Emerging Economies. Others include the Acting Dean, Student Affairs of Elizade University, Dr. Wole Adamolekun, FNIPR; the Secretary General of Africa Public Relations Association, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, FNIPR and Dr. Bala Muhammed of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano.
In his presentation on SMEs, Dr. Oladele submitted that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets are critical to their economies as they create jobs at a faster pace than large companies and that they help to accelerate the transition from agricultural to industrial economies. He further submitted that the roles of public relations in enhancing and promoting the creation and sustenance of SMEs cannot be underestimated.
The NIPR president who quoted many authorities, defined entrepreneurship as the transformation of an innovation into a sustainable enterprise that generates value and noted that for entrepreneurship to be a mainstream and routine business practice, it must reflect its society’s view of how the world should work and how human beings should behave. He added that to make these jelly and work, public relations has to be the glue of match making, concept internalization, implementation and re-practice.
While relying on the definition of SME as defined by Nigeria to the world, though he admitted that no specific definition of small business exists globally, Oladele submitted that in Nigeria, the Third National Development plan defined a small scale business as a manufacturing establishment employing less than ten people, or whose investment in machinery and equipment does not exceed six hundred thousand naira, (Around 3,000 USD). The Federal Government of Nigeria Small Scale Industry Development Plan of 1980 defined a small scale business in Nigeria as any manufacturing process or service industry, with a capital not exceeding N150,000 (1,000 USD as at then) in manufacturing and equipment alone. The small scale industries association of Nigeria (1973) defined small scale business as those having investment (i.e. capital, land, building, and equipment of up to N60,000 (300 USD) pre-Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, Value) and employing not more than fifty persons. The Federal Ministry of Industries defined it as those enterprises that cost not more than N500,000 (Around 200 USD; pre-SAP Value) including working capital to set up.
Oladele who is also the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management Africa Delegate-at-Large, identified roles of SMEs in the economies of any nation whether developing or developed to include creation of platform for effective transfer of technology; operation and validation of the theory of economy of scale by virtue of proximity of manufacturing base to the sources of the raw materials in some cases; provision of cheaper alternatives; and that the SMEs are forces of the market to reckon with in buying decisions.
He gave 12 commandments of public relations for SME’s sustainability. These are: the enterprise must be a brand with image and personality; it must have philosophy and lifestyle; the enterprise must have culture (dos/don’ts); ambassadorial perception for internal stakeholders must be created; sense of belonging is just a starting point, sense of representativeness is key; and that one eye must be surveillance camera on the competition and the entire industry as well as the market for obvious reasons.
Others are: the other eye should gauge internal dynamics and resources as well as total SWOT and remedy possibilities; be present, or constant or regular if not permanent at your stakeholder’s beloved fora; communicate in the language of your stakeholders; turn every stakeholder into a partner and invest in them positively; use incentives to build ladder of succession; and serve your vision as menu list for choice by would be successors.
These, it is believed may make the SMEs in Nigeria to be more bankable as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele recently called on the country’s banking industry to support the SMEs for inclusive growth and development of the nation with the largest economy in Africa.
Dr. Adamolekun presented two papers. One each at the masterclass and practice sessions. These papers are Perspectives on Communication Curriculum and Socio Economic Development; and Intellectualising the Practice of Public Relations.
In the first paper, he submitted that academic curriculum should be dynamic and balance theory and field experiences. He also said that contemporary development in the world has made mass communication department to be too small to house the diverse professions in the world of communication but a School (Faculty) of Communication will do as is the case at Lagos State University’s Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication and Pan-Atlantic University, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.
He also submitted that entrepreneurship along with internship is necessary tools that must be employed for development in today’s public relations and communication worlds.
In his other paper, Adamolekun recommended that the pedagogy for communication in tertiary institutions should deliberately emphasise the social sciences, humanities, basic statistics and numeracy, case studies, internship, second language acquisition, a general feel of several other professions and applicable skills.
In his paper: Defining PR and Communication Strategies to Drive Sustainable Development, Mr. Badejo-Okusanya, stressed that public relations provide for information exchange, establishing consensus among divergent opinions and interests which facilitate decision making and cooperation between state and non-state actors.
He added that effective communication is a prerequisite for sustainable development, good governance and social change.
Dr. Bala Muhammed of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano spoke on Security, Migration and Africa’s Image: A Challenge for the Continent’s Public Relations Practice, at a session chaired by Dr. Oladele apart from his Africa’s Perspectives on Underpining Practice to Theory – A World’s View during the communication scholars and practitioners roundtable earlier.
Dr. Muhammed noted that the rise in migration of up to 214 million in 2010 according to International Organisation for Migration, with variation in regular and irregular migration estimated from 30 to 50 million worldwide, has made many countries to underline the security implications of migration.
This, he said, should make public relations practitioners to maintain a position for migration or anti-migration which can shape a country’s and continent’s international, economic and political relations especially with the submission of Senator Hassan Omar of Kenya that counties that depend on tourism as a major income earner needs more concerted and continuous public communication for growth and development particularly for the SMEs. He spoke on the topic, Divergent/Negative Impact of Terrorism: A Case Study of Tourism Slump in Africa.
Speaking on the topic, Peace and Security: A Prerequisite for Stability and Economic Growth, Amina Mohammed noted that security and development are mutual preconditions; while national security is a precondition for economic and social development as much as economic and social development is a precondition for national security but stunned the participants with her questions: is there a trade-off between national security and economic development? Is economic and social development possible without national security and how much security does economic growth need especially in emerging economies?
Nigerians at the conference later paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian High Commission in Kenya and they were well received by the High Commission led by the Acting High Commissioner, H.E. Friday Okai and his team comprising of the Minister (Consular and Immigration), Mr. Dan Obelle; Senior Counsellor, Head of Chancery, Mrs. Asimawu Dirisu; and First Secretary (Political and Information), Mr. Oluwadare Oni.
- Ogedengbe is the Coordinator of International Collaborations of the NIPR