Mr. Yushau Abdulhameed Shuaib has been a spokesperson of various institutions and bodies since his undergraduate day in Bayero University Kano where he was Public Relations Officers of the Mass Communication Students Association (MACOSA). After a successful National Youth Service he won several awards including scholarship and automatic employment in public service. The awards enabled him to serve as PR Man in Government House Delta State and later various federal government agencies including Ministries of Information, Finance, Health, NASS, RMAFC and NEMA. A holder of Master in Online PR from the University of Westminster, Shuaib belongs to various professional bodies in Nigeria and abroad. An author and blogger, Shuaib, in this chat with KABIR ALABI GARBA speaks about the new publication and rationale behind its birth including strategies being adopted to market it. Excerpts:
THE Spokesperson, your new effort at promoting art of public communication and image making, what is the motivation for this?
It is actually influenced by the success of PRNigeria platform, the first online interactive forum for Public Relations Practitioners in Nigeria. As you may be aware, the PRNigeria Online Forum was created in 2007, using the Yahoo Groups Mailing tool for interaction and exchanges of ideas and knowledge among PR practitioners, communication experts, professionals in integrated marketing communication and students of Mass Communications. May training at home and abroad are also centre on communication discipline. I had always planned to share some of the training and experiences with others because of the dynamism of the profession.
Do you think publishing a PR magazine will satisfy restlessness of a PR expert who, in the last two decades, had been in the service of various government establishment?
To be very very sincere with you I never had an interest to work in the civil service. When I accepted automatic employment awards I thought it could be for a short while, but the challenges of my responsibilities then propelled me to work harder in proving my worth. When I went to University of Westminster for Master in Public Relations with bias with bias on Online PR, my plan was to return to Nigeria and retire from public service. My family and very close associates were aware of this but I met another challenge on the ground, disaster management, where timely and adequate information should be provided. My interest has always been to be in academics, journalism, PR consultancy and publishing. So far I have been enjoying myself with the new enterprises and working with young chaps that are well educated, smart and daring to excel.
Now that you have joined the private enterprises as publisher, what experience are you bringing to lift the practice.
I have always being a writer and blogger syndicating press releases and opinion articles to the media even at the critical period of my life whenever unfortunate altercations with Ogas-At-Top. I have personal blog that is more than 10 years old and I have moderated some professional mailing list groups and online interactive platforms free-of-charge. Therefore I can said that those services that one had provided for free would now be more refined, standardised and improved upon based on international standard at reasonable and affordable fees. We have PRNigeria portals for Press Release distribution and for professional resources.
Who are the target audience of the Spokesperson Digest.
We believe strongly that officers and practitioners in the public service, private sector, politics, academia, media and students will find the magazine a valuable asset for image building and crisis management.
What are the distribution and the Marketing Strategies?
Like I said early, the monthly publication is by subscription only and more copies will be produced on demand because of the flexibility of the printing machine and versatility of the current staffs. Rather than selling products at newsstands or on the street, the magazine size, smaller to the conventional magazine by half, will surely appeal to busy readers who will find its contents and size irresistible. We are also utilising Direct Marketing techniques of reaching the potential and prospective readers and advertisers by direct communication through emails, text messages, phone calls and the industry’s websites.
Don’t you think the print media market is already saturated to accommodate specialised publication such as spokesperson?
Saturated… I doubt. If the social media, online blogs and websites are yet to be saturated to prevent new comers who create website by the second, print publication require more dedication, skills, expertise, equipment and resources before one can venture in. One must be very very serious before going into publication because you may fold within a short time if you have no business plan. Let me add that we recently recruited outstanding graduates of Mass- communication and International relations, who are young, energetic and aggressive in the job. With our newly acquired Direct Imaging Printing Machine which prints, collates, stitches and fold sdirect from the computer, we have no problem with the printing process. While not all the information in the print edition will be online, we will ensure that online readers too have values from the web contents .
What are the specific issues the magazine will be engaging?
The Spokesperson will provide educative and informative news, features, opinions and excerpts from credible sources. It will centre on public communication, political communications, Public Relations, social media, media relations and integrated marketing communication in various varieties. In every edition, we intend to features exclusive interview, personality profile, diary of events, programmes and latest vacancies that are valuable to the readers. We will also provides in-depth reports and analyses on current issues that are relevant to communicators and sensitive information that can only be provided in the exclusive publication like telephone addresses of Who-is-Who in consultancy services and similar information for the benefit of reaching out and networking. For instance in the current edition we published the “50 influential PR firms in Nigeria” where we provide the names of the CEOs or the contact persons and their telephone numbers which cannot be provided online.
What is your target businesswise?
While we strongly believe that our target and prospective clients will be satisfied with the quality of the publication in terms of design, concept, editorial and other useful and informative contents, we will rely on subscription, advertisement and special partnership which may even be with the parent company, Image Merchants Promotion, that is into publishing, printing, web management, social media and event management. It will add value to the general portfolio of the company. The idea of the magazine is to make the contents refreshing, straight to the point with educative tips. Within the weeks of its introduction, we have received over 100 subscribers who had paid N10,000 discounted rate for one year subscription. For the advertisers, we will provide a number of complimentary copies which they may choose that we deliver on their behalf to their friends, clients or associates at no extra cost to them.
How will the publication foster professionalism and ethical standard in PR?
The introduction of The Spokesperson is to serve as another platform that will remain independent and useful sources of information on strategic communication, while updating readers with recent developments and latest technologies in the field of communication. I am glad to inform you that some professional bodies have shown keen interest in the publication and we are working towards sustain partnership in promoting basic ideals and ethics of the noble profession of public relations, journalism and other related/allied fields. We will advocate best practice, strict compliance to the ethical standard and updating readers with the latest technologies and thinking in the field of communication.
While setting up, what are the challenges? How were they surmounted? And market penetration plan?
There were initial challenges and fear that some people who may not like your face, your name or your stand may discourage potential patrons. In fact not only the fear of competition, there is also fear on the kind of operators and players in our political and social climes who may frustrate one’s efforts. There were discouraging hints or threat of the environment, but one must forge ahead if one’s subconscious mind and conscience are clear. I think we have cross the barrier. We are sincere and committed to promote the very best of ourselves, our people, our profession and our nation without any fear. We believe our professional colleagues and other readers may find our new venture a worthwhile adventure. We invite professional communicators to feel free to share their opinions, experiences and proffer suggestions in various aspects of reputation and crisis management for the benefit of all. In fact we openly welcome constructive criticism which is the yolk to success.