Bukky Karibi-Whyte: The Frontline of Nigeria’s P.R Evolution
Few years ago, it was impossible to understand the essence of proper communication between brands and their audience. We can claim that we had advertising, but advertising can only do so much. You need other facets of communication to send the right and proper message. Bukky- Karibi Whyte is the founder of The Bobby Taylor Company which handles public relations in the lifestyle and luxury sector. She recently opened Invicta Africa which is dedicated to the corporate sector. Right now, we dare say she is the biggest name in Public Relations in Nigeria.
“I am really passionate about Public Relations and I want to enjoy servicing the various sectors that can be derived from PR,” she said.“When it comes to the lifestyle and luxury industry, Bobby Taylor does a great job in providing PR and communication services. When it comesto the corporate sector, we have Invicta. There is also Boom Box which focuses on the music and entertainment sector”
It hasn’t been easy for her starting these agencies but she has worked hard to push her clients and put their names on the lips of the public. She currently has several international brands such Estee Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, SPAR as her clients. Why did they chose her?
“All it took was for one brand to believe that we would do it and that was Estee Lauder,”Bukky told us. “From working with Estee Lauder, we were exposed to a lot of things that we were not exposed to at the time. MAC Cosmetics would take me on a roundtable meeting in London and there I would get to meet other PR people from all over the world. From there I learnt PR reporting system, coverage and I used that to perfect my own craft. I was paying attention to these PR experts and built a network with other media agencies internationally. It was based on experience and it took one person to hire us and we in turn learnt their processes and procedures to send the message locally and internationally”
Is there really a need for P.R in the Nigerian business sector? How important is it?
“A lot of businesses, brands and even individuals are realizing how important PR is,” she said.“If you notice there are a lot of PR agencies springing up because there is a high demand for PR agencies. Getting your corporate or brand message to the right target audience would bring about better business. So yes, it is very important.”
Representing clients is very personal to Bukky.Before she works with any client, she firstly has to be a fan of the product or service herself; this enables her properly represent them as she has some sort of connection. She gave an example of a teeth whitening product with a great budget but with terrible results. She would not work with that brand because she doesn’t believe in it and she wouldn’t be able to market the brand in the way that it should be done.
Being female and owning a business in Nigeria is tough. It is a tug and pull situation with women in business and influential positions. How do we resolve this current situation? Bukky airs her honest opinion.
“I always say that when people realize the importance of women in business, in our society and in our political landscape, the better it would be for everybody,” she said. “Being female in business is more difficult. I am sure if I was a man, I would have a lot more going for me. The one thing being female in business has done for me is that it has made me more consistent because I have to work twice as hard.”
The issue of being underrated as a woman in the work place is not only faced in Nigeria although our culture backs most of the mindset we currently face in our country.
“We need to continue being our best, working twice as hard and eventually and hopefully it would happen,”Bukky elaborated. “As Nigerians, we should have more women in decision making positions, to have more women looking to support other women. “
This year,Bukky says we should expect more from Invicta. There will be more work done in the health sector, educational sector, moreCSRprojects and seminars educating people on how to grow their business.
To help grow and change the economy, she feels that the PR sector has a huge role to play in promoting local brands.
“I think it is very important for our own people to appreciate our own brands first,” she said. “Charity begins at home. International exposure is all well and good but there is still a lot of exposure needed on our homefront. Right now I am very Buy Nigerian. We have a lot of business men in the corporate industry that are still buying suits from outside the country when we have fantastic brands like the Okunoren Twins.”
She hopes the PR industry in Nigeria will continue to grow and build a stronger relationship with the media. She also hopes that the reputation of the P.R agencies in the future becomes based on the fact that journalism comes from a true place.
“Nigeria is in its rawest form right now; we are in a vulnerable stage,” she said.“Last year we were excited about who bought a new jeep, this year we are appreciating the little things like OlajumokeOrisaguna, and excited about amazing painters like OresegunOlumide. I feel like we are at a very vulnerable stage and lots of amazing natural, homegrown things are going to come out from this mess as we call it. I believe P.R would be here to tell our stories globally.”
During our shoot, Bukkyhad several meetings with clients and even had the entire team move to our location so that she could monitor what was going on. As I speak to her and watch her work, it is evident that her passion comes from a true place and that her business is not just about her as an individual or the brands that she represents but the need to create a difference in the beautiful country we call home. She is the storyteller, a pace setter, a mother, a female and she is THE boss.