Compare and contrast. Edelman, the biggest public relations agency in the world has an annual fee income surpassing one billion U.S. dollars. The revenues of most public relations agencies in Nigeria are often shrouded in secrecy. But it can be estimated that the top 2-3 public relations agencies in Nigeria have a combined billing of no more than one billion Naira or the equivalent of $1 million!
The Nigerian naira, like many other African currencies, has been nosediving against major international currencies such as the US dollar, the euro, and the pound sterling. As a result, Nigerian and Africa’s PR agencies are sadly now amongst the poorest in the world.
Bloomberg reported that the Nigerian Naira has been falling for the 10th straight year. It’s plunged the highest this year, crashing by over 30% in the last 3-4 months.
In the span of three years, the national currency has lost over 100% of its value. The Naira to dollar exchange rate was around 390-1 in 2020. It’s currently heading towards N1000-$1
That means a PR agency that billed N500 million in 2020 would have been ranked a million-dollar agency. At today’s rate, its global value has plummeted beyond imagination.
Nigerian PR agencies, which often charge their clients in local currency, are earning less and less in real terms, while their costs, including salaries, rent, and equipment, are rising.
The situation is similar in other African countries, where currency devaluation is a common challenge for businesses and individuals alike.
For example, the South African rand has lost more than 60% of its value against the dollar in recent years, while the Egyptian pound has lost more than 80% of its value against the dollar.
The Ghanaian Cedi is in the same sinking boat and by October 2022, the Cedi won the title of the world’s worst-performing currency.
This makes it harder for African PR agencies to compete with their counterparts in other regions, such as Europe, North America, or Asia, who have stronger currencies and competitive advantages.
The impact of currency devaluation on African PR agencies is not just financial, but also reputational.
Clients may perceive a weaker currency as a sign of economic instability or inefficiency and may choose to work with agencies from other countries or regions.
Moreover, Nigerian and African PR agencies may find it harder to invest in their own growth and development, such as hiring new staff, upgrading their technology, or attending international conferences and events.
This can limit their ability to innovate, learn, and expand, and may lead to a vicious cycle of stagnation and decline.
Currency devaluation in Nigeria and most other African countries is certainly taking a heavy toll on public relations practice, and Africa’s PR agencies are sadly now amongst the poorest in the world. And the worst may yet to come
Possible PR solutions to the currency crisis
Are Nigerian and African public relations agencies now the poorest in the world?
What can Nigerian and African PR agencies do to overcome the challenges of currency devaluation? Here are some possible strategies:
Increase their value proposition:
Instead of competing solely on price, PR agencies in Nigeria can differentiate themselves by offering more unique and valuable services to charge higher fees.
Diversify their client base and seek dollar billings
By seeking clients from different sectors, regions, and currencies, PR agencies can reduce their dependence on a single market or currency and can benefit from the diversity of perspectives and experiences.
Nigerian public relations agencies, BMH and JSP Communications have both ventured into the UK and North American markets directly. Other PR agencies may soon follow.
Improve efficiency and productivity:
By streamlining their processes, adopting technology solutions, and empowering their staff, PR agencies can optimize their resources and deliver better results for their clients, even with limited budgets.
Advocate for change and policy reforms:
PR agencies in Nigeria can join forces with other stakeholders, such as business associations, chambers of commerce, or civil society groups, to lobby for macroeconomic and regulatory reforms that can stabilize the currency, reduce inflation, and improve the business environment.
Public relations groups in Nigeria such as PRACAN, NIPR, Yomi Badejo-led APRA and others are presently too distant from the corridors of power and have not been able to influence any significant policy changes.
Time will tell if the new President of NIPR, Nigeria’s umbrella public relations body can make any meaningful difference.
The best or the worst is yet to come for public relations in Africa. Who knows?
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