Rita Okoye is the chief executive officer of Majestically Rare. Born and raised in London, the United Kingdom, she worked at the BBC London for eight years in Marketing Communications and Events prior to coming back to Nigeria and was involved in promoting BBC Experience (a media interactive centre). She also promoted BBC Training and Development. She has lived in Lagos for five years.
An experienced marketing and events specialist, Rita has worked on campaigns for brands such as BBC, Channel 5, Financial Times, Pride Magazine, NatWest Bank, Microsoft Nigeria, Diamond Bank, Cisco Nigeria, BAT Nigeria, First Bank, Acorn, Resourcery PLC, Freedom Foundation, Prestige Living, Statoil, WOW D.I.V.A.S, Genevieve Magazine and MTN, just to mention a few. And she is my Leading Woman for this week.
“Majestically Rare is a premium events and publicity company that is focused on quality and adherence to global standards of excellence. Over the years, we have established a network of high quality vendors and suppliers both locally and internationally and our motto is ‘Where only the best will do’,” Rita tells me.
“I fell into public relations when I was working for a reputable woman’s publication in London called Pride Magazine,” she continues. “The year was 1997, in the busy marketing department; I would drive awareness of the magazine to the public through press releases, reader subscriptions management and organising reader parties. Through press releases, I would regularly send retailers a snippet of the headlines and encourage them to purchase the magazine in bulk. As a new employee to the firm, I did not quite realise the impact of these monthly PR tactics, until later.”
Asked about her persistent love for PR, she narrates: “I like your choice of words, ‘love for PR’, and you are indeed correct because it is what I love to do and I am passionate about. I have worked with several international brands such as the BBC, FT Magazines, CBO Capital, MTN Retail Shop, Prestige Living Interiors, Xclamations by Tomi Rotimi, just to mention a few, to promote their image, spread information, drive awareness and enhance their brand perception. There is power in the use of PR, be it how we relate to the public and what the public thinks about us, or creating good stories that your customers will want to hear about.”
But she is not done yet. “You would normally use PR when you want to share news about a new product, a promo, an anniversary, an extension of your services, your first customer, your thousandth customer, customer testimonials. The list is endless. PR is not sales but rather the tactics involved to bring a sale,” she adds.
Speaking more about the importance of PR, Rita says it can cause a positive turnaround for any business. “PR can move a business from one level to the next. A successful business tycoon recently shared that sales went up by 70 percent when she used PR extensively as part of her business strategy. If used consistently and powerfully over a period of time, the results can be quite phenomenal. The more times your target audience hears, reads or learns your key message, the better recall they will have about your brand. The time invested in a good PR campaign is definitely worth the wait,” she explains.
“Having said that, a PR strategy must be consistent over a period of time in order for you to see the real benefits of your campaign. We would suggest no less than six months of various PR tactics for an effective campaign. Another powerful tool to use with PR is social media. There are so many platforms to choose from depending on your target audience. You can use the social media to educate your customers about your products and offer free advice. The more advice you share, the more you are seen as an expert and thought leader in your industry. And that is powerful.”
Coming back to Nigeria wasn’t what Rita looked forward to initially as she had spent a large chunk of her years in London. So when her husband asked her to consider coming home, Lagos to be specific, it took a lot of convincing, and since she has been home, she has had no regrets. According to her, “The hustle and bustle of Lagos was quite challenging, especially because I had been away for years. I was soon offered a job in a Lagos Island-based consulting firm Customer Centricity as an Events and Logistics manager. I worked on behalf of premium clients such as Microsoft, Cisco, BAT, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank and Skye Bank. I also discovered more of Nigeria as I travelled to Ibadan, Kano and Owerri to deliver customer service training. It was a good experience to be part of a team training Nigerians about good customer service. After a while, I started my own business and it has been good, the rest, they say, is history. My idea is to always add an extra touch on whatever I do because I love to wow my clients; their joy encourages me to do more. I love the pleasure it brings to them and, you know, when you treat a customer well, they will be the ones to tell others about you. If you treat them bad, the same rule will apply. I choose the former.”
Another passion Rita has is nurturing young girls between ages 8-11. “We train them to conduct and value themselves as treasures,” she tells me. “We offer training workshops in schools, churches and groups that are child-centred and where the girls are active responsible participants in their learning. So you’ll often see my girls engaged in roles plays, group discussions, worksheets and at the end of the day there is a test to ensure understanding.”
And, as a parting shot, she admonishes anyone who wants to go into her line of business: “Nothing good comes easy or cheap, you have to be hardworking and consistent. You must also have integrity and learn to give people value for what they paid for. The idea that ‘a lot of people are in this field so there is no space for you’ is false; you can get into a field and carve a niche for yourself and even become an expert in the way you deliver your services. Never let anyone talk you into quitting your dreams irrespective of your age, sex or location. The sky is wide enough for all the birds to fly without hitting each other. Your space is out there and as you soar high, focus on achieving your goals, not on those who say ‘you can’t’ because you can!”