– The Sun News
Abia

PR professionals as errand boys (2)

HERE (in the banking sector and other financial institutions), some co-workers carry on as if they were the owners of the business who are irremovable. Luckily, as fate will have it, some of these sadists end up being messed up and eventually kicked out by the same system that allowed them to drive roughly unnecessarily.

Another development in this PR business which I do not quite understand is: why outsource PR and other corporate communications functions to an agency or a consultant at a high cost when the bank has even more competent employees to do the same job at a reduced outlay? The noble thing to do is either get on with the usually exploitative contractors or depend solely on your corporate communications staff. If the idea is to create jobs for the boys (media brokers) out there, shouldn’t there be decent ways of accommodating them instead of the duplicitous and indicting channel called media outsourcing?

This queer arrangement is capable of making the in-house chaps look like logs bereft of ideas when in reality that is not the case. The argument that such interventions are merely supportive does make sense to me. For it to be plausible, it should also be extended to other functions in the bank.

Banking is the only profession where I see unexposed accountants dictating copies to former distinguished editors and racy columnists with immense versatility and multi-disciplinary backgrounds. These all-knowing financial chaps cannot be taken as cub reporters in Nigeria’s competitive media environment!

In most cases of their intrusion, they make you look stupid before your junior colleagues and other rookies in the media who you have to go and plead with to accommodate the accountant’s curious and unprofessional slant. If this is what bank PR entails, may I never berth there again!

The job of a reputation manager, like this writer, is made more challenging when his friends in the media erroneously believe that he “edits” (if available at all) what is supposed to be given to them from corporate benefactors! What a dilemma: neither your top managers nor your professional colleagues believe you.  For some of us who have, with merit, dignity and respect, reached editorial peak long before now, such misconceptions can be worrisome as they cast aspersions on the integrity of those involved.

In the midst of all these challenges, the PR fellow does not have a clearly defined career prospect. Most of those involved in the thankless job cannot beat their chests today and say in the next five years, they would be senior managers or AGMs. Only on rare occasions do these happen. In the same breath, job stability is equally not guaranteed. At the slightest opportunity, workforce right-sizing starts in the PR department. Editors in core banking, unlike their colleagues in PR that are mistakenly regarded as support (ancillary) staff, are shielded from this occupational hazard.

Taking cognition of everything, there is nothing as good as job satisfaction in any place. When you are doing a job that you do not enjoy, it becomes labour as opposed to work which you cherish. The cardinal point to note is that money is not everything. Lucre should not be a determinant in our job calculations and mobility. Most of the boys I thought journalism or supervised are today miles ahead of me in terms of manifest accomplishments and tactical symbolism either as political appointees or practising journalists. Of course, my contemporaries at the onset of this misadventure against profuse counsel have long left me behind, almost irredeemably! The only consolation amid gratitude to God is that I still have the privilege of collecting dwindling peanuts from where I work. The scenario could have been worse if not for His Grace.

An advisory epilogue: no matter the circumstances or opportunities that come our way with regard to employment, let professionalism and long-term job satisfaction influence our choice; not just fleeting financial fulfilment. If you have to change jobs, think very well about the likely implications and consequences. A better and enticing package may ultimately evaporate, as in my case! It may look big at the outset, but, with time, it becomes a mirage as if it never existed. In other words, monetary consideration should be secondary. And if you have to inevitably move, negotiate very well at the point of entry (that is, if you have the bargaining platform). Once you get it wrong at the initial stage, it is difficult, if not impossible, to correct. That was this writer’s inconsolable lot not too long ago.

As I count my losses, I recollect those early cautionary signals from Messrs Dangogo, Uzoegbu, Nwosu and, last but not least, my vicar at the time, the Revd (now Ven. (Dr.) Femi Fatile. If only I had hearkened to them, perhaps…perhaps…perhaps!

This is hoping that I have not unwittingly closed the door to fresh vistas, opportunities and offers that abound out there through the instrumentalities of potential benefactors, which possibly include you!  I need to be liberated, urgently, from this quagmire I created for myself, rather sheepishly. My case is gradually beginning to look like that of the fly which did not listen to counsel and ended up in the grave with the corpse!

At the risk of overemphasis, it must be underscored that banking does not require any cerebral or strategic input. It is essentially a boring activity that can be undertaken by any dummy. Contrarily, in the media, you are always researching, writing your weekly column(s)/editorials, holding interviews, engaging in marketing communications and regularly participating in colloquia, symposia, local and international conferences and seminars, workshops and refresher courses. And much more!

The average banker is so stingy, surprisingly! This mentality affects their official attitude in their relationship with the PR team. On most occasions, the PR professional ends up deploying his own usually paltry resources to achieve results. If he does not employ such creativity, he exposes himself to culpability in matters that he absolutely had no control over.

Banks help PR men and women, especially editors emeritus, to dig their own graves, if they refuse to see the light in time.

Concluded

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