Public Relations is a behavioral science that would continue to remain relevant in human relationships as it would be an enabler of social, political and economic development, if given its primacy.

The profession of Public Relations has a rich pedigree in Nigeria, having started under the umbrella of the collective known as Public Relations Association of Nigeria (PRA) in 1963.

The nomenclature was changed to Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in 1972 as the sole regulator of PR practice in the country.

In June 1990, the Institute witnessed a watershed in its annals as it was chartered by the NIPR Decree of No 16 of 1990 with the power to register members and set parameters of knowledge required to qualify to practice.

Aside that, the law also affirmed the right Institutes legal right to prescribe high level professional and ethical standards by establishing a code of ethics for members.

To date, the institute has had 14 presidents, with Dr Ike Neliaku, as the 15th president.

While resounding plaudits should be given to all past presidents for laying the moundling blocks upon which their successors were building, one cannot remiss the phenomenal transformation the institute is going through under Dr Neliaku.

The president, on being sworn in less than a year ago in Abuja had hit the ground running, indicative of a leader who had prepared himself ahead of office professionally and intellectually.

His rich pedigree as a valuable member of the Institute over the years must have oiled these sterling feats of putting the Institute on the required growth trajectory.

Providentially, he has enjoyed the good complement of a formidable team of Council members who are made up of seasoned and astute professionals from diverse backgrounds, locally and internationally, in different sectors of the society.

Among other things, Dr Neliaku gave foresighted leadership materializing in the soon-to- be established NIPR Finishing School in Nasarawa State which is a novel institution of PR in Africa; publication of a Compendium of all PR Practitioners in Nigeria; establishment of a sound compliance committee to stave off activities of unethical practitioners; creation of several hubs of the Institute to harness the value of PR in the respective hubs in achieving the three intended values, viz; financial value, professional value and reputational value enunciated by the President.

These great feats are not complete without mentioning the renewed acceptance of the role of PR in high level of government and leadership, occasioned by the strategic engagements the Institute has had in recent times.

The president recently gave an impressive submission on the role of PR at the retreat organized for top political functionaries in Abuja, a situation that has gravely pulled down noxious impression that militated against acceptance and engagement of the professionals by political actors, by so doing depriving the country the value of PR in her image renaissance efforts.

In a bid to sustain the relevance of Public Relations in the scheme of things and give members the progressive touch many have been yearning for over the years, it was not strange that the president approved the appointment of one of the iconic reputation managers in Nigeria, Chief Yomi Badejo Okusanya, the former President of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) to chair the yearly conference and annual general meeting of the Institute that held n Abeokuta, Ogun State, from April 22-26, 2024.

To break away from the cocoon of conservatism and how- we- often-do it syndrome, Badejo Okusanya, ingeniously made a proposition that the event be renamed and branded “PR Week” with the tagline “BoldyPublcRelations”, speaking to the need for PR to be less apologetic in its disposition in the scheme of things.

The proposal was expressly granted and pronto, the committee got in the groove. The theme “Leveraging Public Relations as a Critical Factor in the Nigeria’s Economic and Reputational Renaissance” was conceived.

The essence of the theme was to accentuate the place of PR in the turnaround efforts of government in the economy and to add value to the reputation rebirth of the country, believing that no nation could achieve its required growth intentions if its reputation is in red.

The PR Week came with a lot of novelties. Starting with the strategic meeting with traditional rulers in Ogun State at the Obas Complex, the PR egg heads led by the president engaged the traditional rulers who are a critical segment of the country’s leadership in conversations on how best they could utilize the value of public relations in building more relevance and adding value to their subjects.

The penetrative effect of the engagement could be discerned in the apt description of the programme by the Chairman of the Ogun State Council of Obas, HRM Oba (Dr) Babatunde Ajayi, the Akarigbo of Remoland.

According to him “the NIPR has further equipped the traditional rulers with potent weapon of relevance and honour both to our subjects and the nation generally.”

Concurrently, the maiden engagement with students of mass communication from about seven higher institutions was on going at the State Cultural Centre. Numbering about 600, the students were exposed to the benefits of choosing a career in PR and the critical aptitude they needed to have to make a success out of it.

With eminent presence of a blend of highly experienced and upwardly mobile professionals, the students were enriched and inspired for a great career path ahead of them in the image management profession.

At the end of the session, the president of the Institute left them with nine aptitudes they must have to excel brilliantly in the profession, he also gave an assurance that the Institute would induct all of them into the students category of the Institute, a promise that attracted thunderous applause from the students.

The plenary session on the second day, prefaced with the opening ceremony which had the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun in attendance.

As a mark of honour and recognition for the governor, he was conferred with the title of grand patron of the Institute in Ogun State. In his response, the governor said he was enthused about the choice of the State as host of the event and assured that he would live up to the expectations of his office by supporting the Institute.

He confessed that he was unaware of the difference between roles of PR and Media practitioners prior to his engagement with the Institute and that now he knew better.

Also, to give a practical vent to this, the governor immediately directed the release of a brand new 16 seater bus to the Ogun Chapter of the Institute as well as a befitting office.

Less than three hours to the promise, the new bus has been released to the chapter by the governor while it is hoped that the assurance of the befitting office would materialize shortly.

The plenary session on day three featured in-depth discussions on diverse critical areas of PR practice, among them; PR Consulting; Financial Inclusion and PR; Story Telling; Destination Marketing; AI and Future of PR; Brand Communications, et cetera. Part of the highpoints of the Week was the colourful induction of Fellows, Members, Associates of the Institute as well as the Annual General Meeting where several progressive resolutions were made to move the Institute forward.

There is no doubt that the beauty of the PR Week was also in the social attractions packaged into the event such as the “Adire on the Run Way” that had the wife of the Ogun State Governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun as Special Guest of Honour.

The fun and rare exhibition of the adire batik thrilled most of the delegates as it attracted their fancies for the clothing material as a must-have in their fineries.

The economy of the State was indeed enriched through this exposition. Similarly, the “Owambe” night party made delegates unwind, network and have fun to the hilt with a live band rendering lovely music.

On reflections, it is certain that the PR Week which has now been institutionalized by the institute would not only continue to be a specimen of how events should be packaged and organized, especially when professionally trained events or reputation managers are engaged, the tagline “BoldlyPublicRelations” - ingeniously couched by Yomi Badejo Okusanya and approved by the council under President Ike Neliaku- would accentuate the pivotal place that the profession and the professionals should occupy in the scheme of things in the country.

In conclusion, the onerous burden to surpass the superlative feat of the 2024 PR Week now lies with Akwa Ibom State, which had elected and was approved by the Council to host the 2025 edition.

With the sustained support and commitment of the leadership and entire members, the task would surely be achieved and even surpassed.

*Tope Adaramola is a C

council member of NIPR and Vice Chairman PR Week