Ayeni Adekunle is the public relations practitioner, journalist, and businessman behind Black House Media (BHM) Group, a PR and digital communication agency based in Lagos, with offices in London.
He speaks to Senior Correspondent, GODDIE OFOSE, on the need for brands to plug into the digital space to add value to all stakeholders…
Genesis of BHM Group
BHM Group started in 2006 from my two-bedroom flat in Akute, Lagos while I was a reporter. My wife and I had no furniture so I bought a small chair and table, and could only afford to pay someone to assemble a computer.
We started out working for musicians, actors, and record labels that had small budgets. It was a tough but fulfilling work.
A few years later, my friend, Ayo Animashaun, gave me a desk in his office from where BHM operated. Eventually, we rented our own office space and today we have 60 employees and consultants across the world.
In 2009, we began working for corporates, and they tapped into the experience we had built with entertainers and young people.
It had never happened in Nigeria that an organisation comes from entertainment – working for artistes and actors – to work for multinationals.
That’s our story and we are proud of it.
Exploring digital marketing
With digital marketing, disparate uptake rates exist. Brands across regions in Africa are very late to the party, while those trying to get in are not in the appropriate attire; I mean they are not using the right tools to speak to or listen to the people.
Africa is a continent of up to 2,000 languages from numerous tribes – with over one billion people becoming increasingly globalised, yet retaining the peculiarities that categorise their individual heritages. The status quo is changing.
The latest arrivals to a party can still make the atmosphere electric, so this is an opportunity for practitioners.
We are fortunate to have an extensive understanding, based on our PR background, about people who consume and publish content on the internet.
We know what they are looking for, so we have an understanding of how to use that social space better to create the kind of conversations that can help people meet each other and have a nice time, whether it’s a brand meeting the consumer or just consumers interacting, or even brands needing to engage with one another.
ID Africa is the digital agency that can make this happen because it is not just a service agency; more of Africa’s audiences need to be communicated with and listened to via channels and outlets that best conform to their social, cultural, and personal proclivities.
Observing the space
I cannot divulge research data we obtained at prohibitive costs, but I will share some insights.
To successfully communicate with the diverse audiences and demographics that constitute Africa’s cities and navigate the sociocultural nuances therein, all brands – entertainment or corporate – must treat the term ‘media’ very loosely.
If I can get on a Mutatu in Nairobi or a Danfo in Lagos and speak to 50 passengers, and try get them to try or understand my new product, then that bus, as far as ID Africa is concerned, is as a valid media vehicle as social media is in Johannesburg.
We know that unlike in-store shoppers seeking a specific product or seeking inspiration via window-shopping, online shoppers will google a category, or go on websites to choose categories closest to what they want.
Without relevant search categories, or a sufficiently detailed gamut of categories present, the African shopper aiming to save data costs and time will shift to a more promising seller’s website – and stay there.
These are some of the little things that make the biggest difference in the bottom line for brands.
With PR, our approach is to understand how the media landscape has changed, is changing, and therefore ascertain what tools we need to use to deliver value to brands and audiences alike.
Before, the media was a brick wall you had to pass through to get to the consumer. Today, every consumer, every brand, is a publisher and recipient of content.
Just as there are billboards on the roads, there are digital billboards to draw in and engage the consumer, but their construction for Africa-focused demographics is a whole different field which we are excited to have the privilege of labouring in.
So ID Africa is here to further the premise on which the BHM Group itself is built – ensuring that as manufacturers and consumers, we do not lose sight of the ‘social” in social media, and the ‘media’ in media communication.