Meet Timilehin Bello, entrepreneur who started big PR firm on WhatsApp

Timilehin Bello is the founder and CEO of Media Panache Nigeria, a tech and digital- driven public relations agency.  A graduate of Lagos State University,  Timilehin started a PR agency in the social media platform,WhatsApp last year.  Today, he is the co-founder of a food company called ‘Trays n Pans’. In this interview with Bunmi Banjo, he reveals his passion for PR and how far he has grown since starting.

Tell me how you started your company?

I started Media Panache Nigeria in 2016 on WhatsApp. There was no money for an office space and I needed to start the company, so I opened a WhatsApp group, added few like-minds and we started the company. The country was about going into a recession then and it was pretty hard.

What inspired the founding of Media Panache Nigeria?

Media Panache was birthed from the desire to build a team of young PR experts dedicated to devising innovative PR approaches and creative ideas.

How much did you start with and where are you now?

I did not need money to start. My start-up was different. I started on WhatsApp, and to use the app is free. We executed quite a number of estimable PR projects via Whatsapp and we made money from them. It was the money that we used to get an office space in Ikeja area of Lagos State and employed more staff.

Have you been approached by any company/investor?

An investor came calling after we celebrated our first year anniversary in March 2017. We are still looking at the terms.

What is your company’s goal?

Our goal is to build a team of young experts, create an environment where people genuinely enjoy working and continue to influence people’s decision. To be honest, we are doing this already and doing it very well.

How would you describe the journey so far in this business?

It’s been an amazing journey really, one filled with sleepless nights, good times, tough times, perseverance, people, principles, and more. Within the short time of our existence, we have been able to work with top brands, including Bank of Industry, MTN Foundation, Whogohost and a host of others.

 Would you say PR is challenging?

PR is not challenging. PR is evolving and one needs to evolve with it and stay ahead of new trends.

Is PR worth the bill customers usually have to pay?

PR is worth more than the bill customers are asked to pay. People are yet to understand the power of PR and they are not willing to pay effectively. This is also one of the challenges PR faces. People need to understand that communication is everything. Most of the times, PR is the last thing clients consider when they are about to start a campaign or launch a product. It should be the first.

A lot of people seem to be venturing into the industry these days. What can you say is responsible for this Influx?

Social media. Since the emergence of social media and since social media is one of the effective tools of PR, lots of individuals on social media with high following call themselves ‘PR professionals’ even when they are not.

 Why did you give up Theatre Arts to do PR?

Well, I didn’t give up theatre. I only developed an interest in PR, and I totally enjoy the adventure. I ‘freelanced’ PR for a while till I decided to go into it full time when I got employed as an Intern at Black House Media, a reputable agency. I did a stage play last year with comedy pioneer Alibaba. I’ve not really given up on theatre.

Did you experience fear of failure while venturing full-scale into PR?

Well, I had a mind-set and it was ‘It’s either I start and succeed, or I start and fail and start again’. Sometimes fear creeps in but I’ve got a very strong faith.

Despite the poor state of the economy, you are still doing well. What is the secret?

The secret is our clients that serve as disciples and have helped us preach the gospel of the amazing work we’ve done for them, which in turn gets us more clients. This is why recession did not reach us.

How do you handle some seemingly difficult clients?

Data. When clients prove difficult it is because they are not convinced about a certain approach and what we do is we show them data and let them know why things should be done in a way and ensure we are all on the same page.

Would say the business has been a rewarding one for you?

 Yes, it has.

What is your definition of success?

Happy team. Happy clients. Happy consumers. Happy me!

Apart from being a PR executive, what other Jobs do you do?

I’m an actor, and I also co-founded a food company called ‘Trays n Pans’ alongside my partner Peniel Ajuka.

Where do you see your business in 10years?

Media Panache Nigeria will be the biggest PR firm in Nigeria with two offices in Lagos, one in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Benin, Ibadan and also in New Jersey, USA; Dubai, UK and Canada.

What advice do you have for a young man who does not have anything doing now?

Get vocational skills. Do something. You have to do something and know it is possible. To be sincere education is not respected in this country so the only way to run away from poverty is to get a vocational skill.

What has been your challenge?

Staffing has my major challenge.

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