Timilehin Bello, 25, is the Chief Executive Officer of Media Panache, a public relations and digital marketing firm. In this interview with FEYISAYO POPOOLA, he says though there may be challenges, he finds fulfillment as an entrepreneur
Tell us about Media Panache.
Media Panache Nigeria is a public relations and digital marketing firm founded in 2016. We serve both individuals and organizations in community, government, and media relations.
How did it start?
The company’s journey has been quite a riveting one. I founded Media Panache in March 2016 shortly after exiting my previous place of work. With the ample knowledge I had procured in the field, I visualized and put together a PR agency with a young and vibrant team that would exert unique approaches in the execution of creative PR ideas.
We initially started on a WhatsApp group, attending to clients and setting projects in motion thereon – before moving into an office space situated in Ikeja, Lagos.
What motivated you to start up your own business?
My passion is the driving force behind the company’s existence. I built it upon my passion. Also, I identified a number of things the Nigerian PR industry is currently lacking and one of my long-term goals is to provide long-lasting solutions – hence, making a formidable impact on a general scale.
How much was your initial capital and how did you raise it?
My initial capital was about N200, 000. It was a challenging moment as I had just left my previous place of work – making the conscious decision to float my own company, and knowing apparently, the amount might not suffice.
However, with the unyielding support, love and encouragement from my loved ones, I was able to pull through, and the rest is history. This serves as a reminder that one shouldn’t be easily discouraged from actualizing set goals – not even by financial constraints.
What was your work experience prior to starting your business?
I worked as a public relations executive at Black House Media from 2014 to 2016. There, I was entrusted with the responsibility of responding to clients’ briefs. I was responsible for evolving strategic PR plans to address their needs and meet their set goals and objectives through the execution of carefully prepared plans.
Do you find fulfillment in what you do?
Absolutely! Nothing supersedes passion in regards to professionalism. PR has always been my ingrained passion. I find the entire spectrum incredibly gripping and I couldn’t be happier that my passion was ignited through practicing it. We (Media Panache) currently have a considerable clientele; spanning across corporate and entertainment industry.
Your organization recently won an award; how did that make you feel?
It made me feel appreciated and it made my team’s efforts since the company’s inception feel acknowledged. Honestly, I didn’t see the nomination coming. We were barely a year as at the time of the awards. It served as an indication that our works had not been going unnoticed. It was a real confidence booster.
What are the major challenges you’ve faced?
One of the major downsides that come with being a young agency is being undervalued by established organizations. Several companies don’t trust emerging PR agencies with their marketing briefs or the execution of campaigns.
Some would rather seek the services of the top guns; the more established agencies. In reality, the truth is those constantly underestimated values of young agencies are the key to the services many of these organizations hanker for, and also the future of the PR industry.
What is your staff strength?
Currently, my team consists of 11 full-time employees and seven contract staff.
Has there ever been anytime you thought of quitting and seeking paid employment?
No, I haven’t considered that before and I don’t think I would. I’m satisfied with my job; I enjoy being Media Panache MD.
Is your business registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission?
Of course, we are. That’s one of the first and most basic steps in establishing a business officially.
How do you get your clients?
We get clients lot of times through referrals from our satisfied customers. They recommend our services to other individuals or organizations seeking the services of an astute PR agency. Other times, we get clients through our tailored contents on social media. We also accentuate our company as a brand through campaigns and through traditional media vehicles and channels.
How profitable is the business?
PR is a lucrative business; however, it isn’t one of the most flourishing in this part of the world yet. I believe there is a lot of room for it to be. Perhaps, if more organizations start trusting and investing in the effectiveness of PR like in developed countries, then it would undoubtedly become one of the most profitable engagements.
Have there been any complaints from clients so far?
In a business like PR where customer relations is incredibly consequential, it is your duty to identify errors before your clients do and provide solution as well as preventive measures to curb reoccurrence. Keeping countermeasure readily available is one of the ways to professionally handle customer displeasure.
What would you say is the most influential factor in your business’ success?
The drive, the passion, and the zeal to excel
What is your educational background?
I had my secondary education at Lagos State Model College, Meiran. I graduated from Lagos State University, Ojo, in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts.
What other skills do you possess?
I possess excellent customer service skills as well as multi-tasking, digital marketing, public speaking, team work, and flexibility skills.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?
I see myself leading my team to awe-inspiring levels of achievements professionally whilst making a significant impact in Nigeria’s PR industry – setting standards for practitioners nationwide. I see Media Panache at the pinnacle of Africa’s Public Relations sphere in the next five years. It’s definitely one of our long-term goals; one we would work unflaggingly to accomplish.
Do you think there is any hope for entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
The world is ever-evolving. Things have changed, and so have perceptions especially in this contemporary age we are in. The advent of social media has opened a myriad of possibilities, and I believe several parents can perceive this today. I truly believe there is hope for entrepreneurship.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Keep your head above water; never lose focus, and remain steadfast and undeterred through challenges and moments of trepidation. Remember, there is only one person that can preclude you from actualizing your set goals; and that’s yourself.