By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

As it concerns the media, public relations has received a much-needed breakthrough in the just-published book Media Relations Playbook: 25 Proven Effective Hacks by Chido B. Nwakanma.

Contemporary developments in media relations in Nigeria and much of Africa are explored with a mastery that compels attention.

The much sought-after media consultant and educator Chido B. Nwakanma has facilitated training sessions on media relations management at professional forums and academe over the past nine years and distinguished himself as Adjunct Faculty at the esteemed School of Media & Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.

It’s instructive that the National Universities Commission (NUC) has divided Mass Communication into seven distinct domains, with Public Relations as a stand-alone field.

Given that Media Relations are pivotal to Public Relations, Nwakanma’s Media Relations Playbook is a timely game-changer and quintessential guidebook.

Nwakanma is akin to an astute coach in American football who graduated from the field as a consummate quarterback who masterfully orchestrates the game armed with a classic playbook.

One cannot but learn from the guru, who has 30 years of cognate communication management experience and has served as President of the International Association of Business Communication (IABC) Nigeria and the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN).

In this millennial age of multiform information platforms, the media can be said to be everywhere.

As of April 2023, Media Relations Playbook informs, Nigeria had 740 functional radio, television and online broadcast stations, made up of 390 radio stations and 350 television stations, broadcasting in English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Fulfude, Efik, Urhobo and well over 50 other languages.

Nigeria has over 100 national, regional, community and local print media publications, with the most famous newspapers being the Guardian, The Punch, Vanguard, ThisDay, The Nation, The Sun, Daily Trust, Leadership Daily Independent, and Premium Times.

Digital media can be seen as all the rage today, and the ubiquitous social media cannot be done without warts and all as per information, misinformation, disinformation, and sundry whatnots.

Nwakanma’s Media Relations Playbook offers 25 seamless lessons, starting with being clear about objectives, audiences, and deliverables.

In media relations, it is crucial to be clear about strategy, i.e., the plan of action to achieve a long-term aim.

A distinct media engagement plan specifies who, what, where, when, and how to do the necessary.

It is incumbent on the responsible practitioner to “tell your story” because “the goal of a media relations effort is usually to get the word out on behalf of your organisation or client.”

There is no escaping the necessity of writing different versions of the story to reflect the media types of the moment.

Nwakanma advises sticking to the positive in crisis and avoiding off-the-record comments that may spell disaster.

In critical media relations activity, one must be prepared to expect various responses, including the less-than-salutary.

Against the grain of sharing “in confidence” experiences, one should bear in mind not to say anything one would not like to be published.

As espoused in Nwakanma’s Media Relations Playbook, managing the diversity of platforms is a significant lesson in doing the job.

Nwakanma stresses that “media relations and communication as a whole stand on solid theoretical foundations,” which leads the author to advise: “Thou shall apply media theories.”

Nwakanma states, “Media segmentation is a central theme in the literature on integrated marketing communications.”

The Media Relations Playbook teaches the lesson that “Monitoring has become even more critical in the age of fake news, multiple platforms, and algorithms.” Monitor! Monitor! Monitor!

The importance of building relationships cannot be gained in profitable modern-day media relations.

Like Noah in the Bible, one must build the ark before the unleashing of the storm.

The need to budget appropriately and effectively cannot be over-emphasized, as Nwakanma avers: “The budget makes or breaks the deal.”

It is essential to “note that charges apply to dealing with the broadcast media,” which Nwakanma illustrates with the experience of the public relations agency Blueflower Limited over the “commercial news” issue in broadcast news in Nigeria.

Even as Nwakanma knows that “the exchange of cash is a principal narrative and impression of media relations in Nigeria and most of Africa,” he boldly advises that one must “be ethical for long-term benefits, despite the environment.”

Evaluation is critical in Nwakanma’s Media Relations Playbook, and “the most crucial evaluation is the one the clients do.”

Nwakanma argues that the industry has gone beyond the traditional 4Ps of marketing—product, Place, Price, and Promotion—hence, the astute practitioner should “recognise that media are only part of the total communication mix” and include other elements such as Word of Mouth.

The standing advice is to “handle rejoinders with tact and focus on the big picture.” Nwakanma illustrates the rejoinder matter by publishing the article entitled “Arik Air is a Disaster waiting to Happen” by RO Isenalumhe Esq that gets a rejoinder entitled “Press Statement: Arik Air Operations Safe” by Captain Roy Ilegbodu, the Chief Executive Officer of Arik.

Nwakanma also publishes the opinion piece entitled “The Asaba Disgrace” by Reuben Abati on the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships hosted by Delta State, which attracts two rejoinders entitled “The Joy and Thrills of Asaba 2018” and “Take Two of the Joys and Thrills of Asaba 2018” by Jackson Ekwugum, the Manager of Communications at Government House, Asaba.

Remarkably, Nwakanma re-publishes his rejoinder to Reuben Abati’s article “The Jonathan They Do Not Know,” in which he juxtaposes the world of difference between Abati’s role as a newspaper columnist and his role as a PR strategist for President Jonathan.

In the final lessons of Nwakanma’s Media Relations Playbook, the advice is to follow through on promises, note that communication is a cultural phenomenon, seek and get consideration, know that the platform and the exposure belong to the principal or client, and finally practice direction on media relations by industry pros

The five case studies in media relations management included in the media Relations Playbook are written by Dr. Emeka Agbayi of Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), Funsho Aina of MTN, Temitope Oguntokun of International Breweries Plc., Erhumu Bayagbon of AIRTEL, and Daniel Okereke of American University of Nigeria (AUN).

Chido B. Nwakanma has written a watershed book in Media Relations Playbook: 25 Proven Effective Hacks and I can go no further than agree with the words of the PR guru Mike Okereke, penned in the Foreword: “I can confirm that the Media Relations Playbook is the best book on Media With practice published in Africa and is one of the best around the globe.”