Sunday, 20 September 2020 01:12

Public relations doesn’t distort reality, it controls narrative — Bukola Izeogu

Bukola Izeogu is the Chief Executive Officer of BukiHQ Media. She discusses the media industry with TOFARATI IGE

Why did you decide to start your company?

I started the company because I saw a vacuum in the industry for the proper representation of personal brands, some of which were people I loved the most in the entertainment industry. I thought I would be able to deliver value and help them to remain newsworthy and relevant, and I’ve been able to do exactly that over the last six years.

How would you assess the journey so far?

It has been totally rewarding. I have had the opportunity to work with over 80 brands and I’ve built a lot of relationships across the world.

In what innovative ways do you run your company?

My background in Computer Science makes it sacrosanct that we utilize the latest technologies available to do all our work, most of which are online. For this reason, we operated effectively during the lockdown as all our work tools and processes are optimized for speed and remote access.

Some people believe that public relations professionals distort perspectives in favour of their clients. What’s your reaction to that?

That’s a negative way to put it. A positive way to put it is that we shape the perception of our clients in the public eye. We divert the public’s attention from potentially negative perception to the positive in favour of our clients. That isn’t distortion; it’s controlling the narrative.

With social media and the Internet ‘disrupting’ the way business is done globally, what do you think is the future of PR?

Perception predates most media and PR will be relevant regardless of the ease of access to the Internet. Brands will always require professional assistance to filter information available to the public to forestall possible situations that may potentially expose the brand to public disapproval.

Public figures in Nigeria don’t seem to take PR seriously until they run into trouble. What’s your reaction to that?

People don’t take God or doctors seriously until they get into trouble or fall ill.

What are some of the challenges you face in the course of discharging your duties?

Many clients do not appreciate the value of our work, especially as it isn’t always empirically quantifiable. For example, a client would bask in the euphoria of the moment and get endorsement deals for looking good in an outfit but would forget being told, persuaded and convinced by the PR professional to turn up in that particular outfit. The client can’t quantify the value of that advice and therefore may be unwilling to pay commensurately for the service but will beg, borrow or steal to buy that dress over and again to keep the relevance and the  resultant ovation. This happens more often than not and is a challenge.

 What are the highlights of your career?

We have invested time and effort over the years in fledgling brands and it fills us with pride and satisfaction when these brands go on to be popular in Nigeria, internationally acclaimed and commercially successful. We are especially proud of Adekunle Gold and Burna Boy.

What could make you reject a brief?

We don’t in good conscience slam the door against any potential client or brand without pointing them in a direction that leads them to kick-starting the process for achieving their goals. We may not accept a brief if we know the client needs to put in more work to be newsworthy. Paraphrasing the MD of a global brand who put it aptly during a conversation, “Imagine selling a product you know is top quality that everything you say about it is true”. The brand has put in the work; now, we can take it to the next level based on the unique potential and quality that stands out. Without these, we may advise on steps to achieve a status worthy of our representation.

What are some of the personal qualities that have helped you get to where you are?

I’m a perfectionist and I’m determined to uphold my integrity. It’s torturous for me to overlook things that can be done better. From my immediate surroundings, to work presentations and executing briefs to scope, quality and time; I believe ‘the devil is in the detail’. My personal qualities are my company’s values which include but are not restricted to respect, confidentiality, confidence and tenacity. I may be described as logical, as all things need to be thought through and make sense. I can also be passionate and emotional.

What are the things you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

Hindsight is a genius. My experience has been interesting and fun in spite of the challenges. I look forward to learning from mistakes and ensuring they don’t recur. This gives little or no room for regret but a lot of allowance for improvement and gratitude for the successes on the journey so far.

How do you relax?

I play video games, watch movies and football. I also listen to music and drink red wine. My video games relax me a lot.

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