After practicing business journalism for several years, Jonah Solomon recently set up a PR firm, Yadel Media to assist start-ups with marketing communication strategies to weather the turbulent Nigerian environment. In this interview, Jonah speaks on opportunities in tech PR in Nigeria and other issues. He says the firm offers customised solutions with varying budget options for start-ups – Excerpts
What are your expectations and projections for business this year?
If you look at the macroeconomic analysis of the global economy, you will realise that growth is projected to get stronger due to strong recovery in emerging market countries, which include Nigeria. Quite a few businesses will continue to show strong growth whether oil prices dropped or continue to rise. So, businesses here will continue to do well this year.
Our business, for instance, is focusing on the technology start-up space, and what we have seen over the years is, whether growth projections in the global economy are negative or positive, the sector continued to show growth. So, I think that this is a year of expansion for the start-up scene in Nigeria. Several start-ups are looking to expand across Africa and beyond. So, we are likely to see more series A and B rounds.
It is also a year of Brexit, so we will see many start-ups positioning for opportunities as UK investors look to tap into the rising opportunities in the sector in Africa.
There are numerous PR agencies offering almost similar services, what differentiates Yadel?
What Yadel is doing is unique in several ways. First, we primarily focus on technology and financial services start-ups.
Second, unlike other agencies, we offer customised solutions that allow just about any start-up with any budget to use our services.
Although we have a structure that allows us to deliver efficient services to our clientele, it doesn’t discriminate between a rich client and poor client. We can work with your start-up no matter your budget. And we deliver the corresponding result.
Yadel was established when other operators are facing challenges due to economic downturn, what is your secret of survival?
Yadel was established in 2014, when the Nigerian economy was averaging 6 per cent growth, so I wouldn’t say it came when there was an economic downturn.
However, despite the economic downturn, we have weathered the storm. We have lost and gained clients within the period, just as other agencies.
What has worked in our favour is the essential nature of our services at the early stage of any start-up. Because we are reliable and cost-effective, most start-ups, before even raising their seed round, can use our services as part of their marketing mix. We have been lucky as some continue to use our services as they grow.
Are you considering affiliation to foreign or local big PR agency?
We are open to partnerships with other agencies, but not an affiliation in the strict sense of the word. As a matter of fact, we are already doing this unofficially, as we have partnered agencies in Kenya and South Africa that handle our press distribution in those markets. We also have local partners for some of our experiential marketing needs of our clients.
But an affiliation is not something we are in a hurry to get into as our company is still an evolving brand and we are careful about the brand’s identity. We need to get to that point where such a partnership will not consume the brand before taking the plunge. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on such partnerships at the level we are doing it just to get our jobs done.
Where do you see Yadel in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, Yadel will be more than a decade old. And I would like to see Yadel that has become what it set out to be – which is to become an integral part of the tech ecosystem in Africa; delivering affordable and relevant marketing campaigns to our clients leveraging the day’s most effective PR and marketing tools.
Tell us more about Yadel
Yadel started out as a one-man media relations consultancy side hustle. Initially what we did was offer media relations advisory services and syndicate press releases across the markets our clients operate in, which include Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. But over the years, as demands grew, we had to structure it properly and inculcated other marketing and PR services.We are based in Lagos and our focus is on promoting African tech start-ups through the African media.
We have had the privilege of working with some of the biggest start-ups in Nigeria, including hotels.ng, Freeme Digital, EchoVC, Printivo, Cars45, Concept Group, Advanced Concrete Technologies, Matt O’Bell etc. We have also worked with some foreign brands including Criteo and Connecticut Innovations.