When I think about PR in Nigeria, the first name that comes to my mind is Bidemi Zakariyau, the Founder & CEO of LSF|PR – A full service public relations consultancy in Lagos, Nigeria with core competencies in corporate communications, consumer and lifestyle brands.
Having been an admirer of her work and her impeccable style, it was no surprise that when I had to pick a PR firm to handle the launch of our website, I knew instantly that she was the one for the job. After a lengthy conversation over the phone, one thing was clear; this lady knows how to make one hell of a pitch.
What makes Bidemi very interesting is her drive to succeed in an environment where women are outnumbered. By setting a recruiting policy of hiring only women, Bidemi is making her own rules proving that women who empower other women are our true heroes.
How would you describe what you do?
It’s crazy, everyday is different, managing clients, people, staff. I run and manage day-to-day operations at LSF|PR, which involves strategy, advising clients on critical communications issues, corporate reputation building efforts, adapting global campaigns to suit the Nigerian market, or creating campaign strategies for brands. It’s a lot of work honestly.
How did you get started?
After interning at two law firms before going to law school, I figured that law wasn’t for me so I set up LSF|PR while I was in Law School. I started by working on small projects with fashion brands and decided to go into PR full time once I was done with law school.
What do you love the most about your job?
Delivering results, there’s nothing better than adding value to your clients by achieving the objectives set out. When a client feels like they’ve gotten a return on investment that makes me really happy.
What do you dislike about your job?
You know what, there’s so much that’s stressful about it, but I love it, I love the good and the bad side, its all part of the process. Nothing good comes easy?
As a child, what did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
I don’t know, I’m not sure I remember what I wanted to be exactly but every time someone asked me what I wanted to study at university, I would say “public relations and psychology”.
What is the most popular/greatest misconception about your job?
We are NOT event planners! Get it right people.
What are the key characteristics required to do your job well?
Focus, passion, drive, working in PR is very tough, especially in this environment, you have to be ready to put in the hours and work required. You also have to have great people skills. Clients are very different so emotional intelligence is very important.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
Definitely keeping LSF|PR going. It started off as a fashion PR company and we’ve been able to build a diverse portfolio of clients within the corporate, consumer and lifestyle sector in under five years. Between the last one year, we created two divisions, one for start-ups and small businesses (LSF|SME) and a digital marketing division (LSF|Digital). LSF|PR is one of the fastest growing PR agencies in Nigeria – really pleased that our work speaks for itself.
We are also impacting our community through LSF|CDP our career development program.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“I don’t think you should start a PR agency, there are many established ones in Nigeria, there’s no point, you can’t really compete”. That was what someone said to me when I told them I wanted to set up a PR company. I was so sad, it basically made me believe I could do it, so I took the risk and its been four years now and I’m totally loving the journey – good and bad, I learn everyday.
People will tell you can’t do things all the time, but you have to be ready to take the risk. Failure is the worst that can happen especially when you lose your investment, go into depression etc, but its also the best thing that can happen sometimes, everybody fails. You’re meant to learn from it and come back stronger.
What would you advise someone today?
Always make sure you’re building something that is sustainable – this applies to all aspects of life in general – relationships, career, business, anything you’re doing. Make sure its sustainable.
Don’t be a “noise maker” because hype means nothing! what you need is credibility, hard and great work will never go unrecognised no matter how long it takes. Who does anything for recognition anyway? Recognition is a ripple effect of great work.
Describe your personal style?
Very very simple. I love dark colours and white. It really is that simple.
Is there a key piece in your closet?
Yes, black trousers, white trousers, white blouses. Honestly my favourite pieces to wear.
Who are favorite African fashion brands?
Maki Oh, my absolute fave!
CLAN my forever faves! CLAN is a part of my life to be honest.
Lisa Folawiyo, oh the stunning beaded pieces.
Rè – omg, the classic Rè pieces from 6-7 seasons ago are amazing. The prints on the most amazing silk. Omg! That’s all for now!
What does the word ‘feminism’ mean to you?
Feminism is understanding the importance of equal rights for women. Women for so long have been marginalised. I shouldn’t have to work 10 times harder to be deserving of any role. If my work is up to par, I am deserving. That is all! There should be never be a question of gender.
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