Public Relations is one of the most effective ways to build on marketing strategies and create a solid online reputation. Companies that have caught onto this are investing a tremendous amount of time and effort into staying on top of their PR strategies, and they are seeing even larger returns with better ROI.
Public relations is about sending the right messages to the right place and the right people, creating a stronger brand reputation. PR agencies work alongside their clients to help them achieve this and promote them within their client’s industries. PR is an area that can transform the future and profitability of a business. Used properly, PR can give a company the ability to overcome almost any obstacle it may face. This is some of what makes PR so essential.
Seating on the hot seat of Nairametrics’ Business Half Hour, Tolulope Olorundero, a PR expert and Strategic & Communication Consultant highlights how businesses can profit from public relations. Olorundero has exceptional skills in Crisis Management and Digital Communication. She is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Mosron Communications and the Chairperson of the Association of Nigerian Women in Public Relations.
“I have always loved to read books, so I started as an editor while I was in secondary school. My father was a journalist and he usually comes home with newspapers, so the first thing I would do is to pick up the newspaper and check out some errors. It was just not working well for me that all I can see were errors. So that was what conditioned me to know what to look out for when something is not written well in a book. Bottomline is that it inspired my interest to become an editor. So, when I got to the university, I was editing materials for my course mates, I was also head of publicity for my local church in school and apparently, I decided to do things around public relations. So Mosron communications started as an editorial company,” she said.
Mosron Communications is a public relations consulting firm that provides public relations & communication services to businesses, organizations, and service brands across sub-Saharan Africa. According to Olorundero, Mosron communications started full-time in January 2019, though she had it as a side hustle as an editorial company since 2016. She later steered the company to a public relations company in 2019, as both are interwoven as there is no way one can say he or she is a public relations person, and not be able to write or edit content.
Speaking about funding as it relates to her business, she said when she started, there was no funding, and it was completely a bootstrap. Though her business started as a side hustle, during this period she had a full-time job, and she was able to save up part of her salary. Also, when she started her PR firm full-time, she had to convert a room in her house to an office to enable her to save the cost of renting an office space.
Speaking further on public relations, she said what motivated her to follow the path of PR was that people are digitally connected in today’s world, and PR helps companies to create a strong online presence that is highly visible to their target audience. Therefore, PR agencies provide businesses with support and guidance to help them market themselves online while being constantly ready to step in when a disaster occurs, or something threatens to damage the image of the company.
During the session, Olorundero mentioned that some people have this misconception that public relation is media relations. She made it clear that there is a need to let the business public and even the public know that there is more to public relations than media relations. Speaking further, she stated that there are four cultural things in terms of value propositions from a communications PR perspective. And they are.
- Corporate communications.
- Stakeholder management.
- Corporate event management.
- Reputation management
She explained that the role of Corporate Communication from a PR perspective has to do with building relationships with customers and responding to inquiries from the public. She emphasised that the duties in this area include producing newsletters, brochures, and other printed materials designed for the public. Corporate communicators manage a company’s website and social media presence, which includes monitoring what customers and clients are saying about the company on social networking websites and responding to inaccurate posts or requests for information.
Also, she said communication professionals are responsible for responding directly to calls and emails from customers with questions about a company’s plans or activities.
For Stakeholder Management, she said effective management of relationships with stakeholders is crucial to resolving issues facing organizations. She stated that stakeholders hold the key to the business and social environment in which organization operates and therefore its subsequent financial and operating performance. Thus, the effective management of stakeholder relations should be an essential focus of PR and organizational activity.
Speaking further on the third value proposition from a communications PR perspective which is Corporate Event Management, she asserted that while a company will most likely have an events manager, the function usually comes under public relations as conferences, exhibitions, and events are designed to generate publicity as well as generate sales leads.
The company may sponsor sports, arts, media, education, science and social projects and institutions, and TV programmes. Events are often linked to sponsorship. A company can sponsor an event or organise its own events, for example, for its sales team, its clients and prospects, its personnel, its distribution network, etc.
Lastly, for Reputation Management, she indicated that it is their incorporating efforts and campaigns to bury negative reviews, information, or search results and promote content that positively accentuates the desired image.
In addition, she advised business owners, corporate organizations & entrepreneurs on the importance of public relations, saying it aids businesses when it comes to online visibility and brand management. She said in this part of the world everybody thinks they can handle their PR themselves and some might end up diminishing their brand at the course of doing so.
However, it is crucial for you to hire an experienced hand to manage the Public Relations of your company as PR is an area that can transform the future and profitability of your business.
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A CredPal credit card can get you anything – CEO, Fehintolu Olaogun
Fehintolu Olaogun, CredPal Co-Founder recounts his journey through founding one of Nigeria’s most innovative startups.
Those moments when you have to return items from your shopping cart due to insufficient cash may now be over for Nigerians, thanks to CredPal’s credit cards.
CredPal goes a step further from your regular financial services institution which offers you a loan when you request, and now gives customers a credit card with which they can shop for their needs and pay in instalments.
CredPal makes use of Visa cards which serves users at POS channels and ATM points, making it a convenient way to access consumer credit. You can think of it as similar to the credit card services offered by companies like American Express across Europe.
Speaking during the Nairametrics Business Half Hour show on Classic FM, CEO and co-founder of Credpal, Fehintolu Olaogun explained that CredPal was birthed due to an observed need for such facilities in the Nigerian space.
“I remember moving into my house at first, and I had to wait for almost four months to get my gadgets because I did not have the bulk sum at the time. This is a situation many Nigerians experience, and they have to put off getting such item no matter how pressing the need may be,” he narrated.
Before starting CredPal, Olorunfemi Jegede was running an e-commerce platform and noticed that customers were often on the lookout for ‘Buy now, pay later’ options. With this observation, the duo decided to work on a checkout payment gateway that would allow the customers to pay later and in instalments.
“Our drive was simply to allow people access credit to buy items and then pay later, and there was a wide acceptance among the customers. So we threw in some more money behind it, reached out to some merchants and money lenders and extended the service to allow people pay their bills. With our credit cards, you can pretty much do anything and you only pay for what you use,” Olaogun explained.
To move things to the next level, there was a need to go beyond bootstrapping and bring in some collaborators and partners. The finance needed for scaling came in a mix of equity, seed funding, and hedge financing from lenders and people who wished to put money. Since both founders had pedigree founding and running a startup, it was easy to get their foot into the door and talk with investors. Another thing they had going for them was an established market need, a working product and huge demand.
Shortly after starting operations, CredPal won $25k and the “Merchant Payments” Challenge for allowing individuals and businesses to pay for purchases in instalments across online and offline merchants, and gained recognition at the Visa Everywhere Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa.
In March 2019, CredPal was accepted into the Y Combinator Winter batch alongside other African startups like Wallets Africa, Schoolable, and 54gene; and they received $150,000.
In 2020, CredPal raised $1.5 million in a funding round which included US seed-stage accelerator, Y Combinator; Lagos-based fintech investment holding company, GreenHouse Capital; Tangerine Life, a digital insurance company; and other VC firms.
Also in 2020, CredPal was selected and participated in the fifth edition of Google for Startups Accelerator Africa – a 3-month-long programme for the startups which gave them access to mentorship, funding, and PR support, among other incentives.
Market entry and operations
Olaogun recounts that the first step to entering the market was going through the merchants. Most of these merchants encounter retailers and other customers who would wish to purchase more items but are constrained by available funds. It was therefore easier for the merchant to suggest a credit alternative for the customer, who already had a need for such service.
Another tactic that CredPal deployed was the affiliate marketing method where people sign up for free as affiliate marketers, promote the product, and are remunerated monthly based on the number of customers they get for the startup. To adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines, a part of the team works from home while a few work from their operational office in Lagos.
With the low-interest rates, customers can get these credit services for as low as 2.5% interest rate using either the mobile app, or the credit card. Merchants also embrace the service quickly as it allowed them to get the value for their goods almost immediately, and save them the trouble of having to go after debtors.
Getting back the money
The challenge for individuals and institutions in the credit space is often about how to get the repayment done seamlessly, and without having to run after the debtors.
In this light, sentiments across board favour the growth of the credit business as the apex bank has been on the drive to increase lending in the country. The GSI policy which was introduced late last year was targeted at encouraging this move, by authorising the banks to deduct from customers’ accounts directly.
CredPal also partnered with and integrated Pngme’s data SDK and API to acquire user-permissions, mobile-based financial data (such as connected institutions, balances, transactions), to provide a secure and detailed data foundation to manage its subscription base.
This is in line with the vision of becoming the American Express of Africa, a continent that is still largely untapped.
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