Twelve days ago, fortune smiled on a 7-year-old-girl in the heart of Ondo town in Ondo State, South West Nigeria. The little girl identified as Dele simply got popular when she was spotted by a twitter user doing her homework with the light from the ATM gallery of First City Monument Bank (FCMB). The tweet caught the attention of other twitter users who made the tweet to go viral until it got to the ears of the management of the bank. Since that incident a lot has happened to change the fortune of the little girl. The management of the bank had looked out for and got Dele. It has also promised to sponsor Dele’s education. Barrage of comments has been recorded over this incident that has put the FCMB brand on the lips of the people online.
People have commended the bank for its humanitarian move. Others have taken a look at the incident within the background of the decay in the Nigerian system blaming government for making Dele’s quest for good education arduous. What are the implications of this smart move by the bank on its brand? Are there digital PR lessons to be learnt from this move many have considered as top notch CSR stunt? These questions are the focus of this piece.
A flashback to selected similar incidents
This incident brought to the memory similar breakthroughs facilitated via the internet. In 2016, Olajumoke Orisaguna had a course of her life completely changed when she walked by the location of a photo shoot by Nigerian photographer cum musician, TY Bello. The lens caught her unaware with her tray of bread. Since then, her life has not remained the same again. TY Bello posted the photo on Instagram and she was located by people. This sudden change of fortune brought her fame, a job and even scholarships as two Nigerian companies offered her scholarship to make her life sustainable.
June 2018 was the destined date for a group of Nigerian street children to be set on the path to greatness. Their dance video became viral and got the attention of singer, Rihanna and super model Naomi Campbell. Due to this internet breakthrough, the children whose ages range from 6 to 16 had landed a number of deals including featuring on Nigeria’s singer Amanda’s homage to the Super Eagles before they played in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In another similar incident in 2019, another young girl had a taste of fortune when her neighbour recorded her ranting after she was sent away from school for the inability of her parents to pay her school fees. When the video hit the internet, it caught the attention of celebrities who leveraged on that to locate the girl identified as Success. They raised funds for her education beyond the primary school level.
In the third quarter of 2019, a Nigerian cleaner was recorded dancing as he cleaned the streets in the summer heat in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate. The 26-year-old man identified as Lucky Etinosa Aivinhenyor had barely spent four months in UAE before luck smiled on him through the internet. He was an employee of the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre, Tadweer. The video which became viral in Dubai brought him fame, accolades and a sum of $272,253.
The Digital PR Lessons
From the brief reflection, it is clear that the internet is becoming a sort of Messiah for ordinary people. It also reveals that a number of positive perception could be generated for brands either individuals or corporate. There is good in doing good so the saying goes.
#Issue monitoring. A PR function that ensures issues in the industry and the general environment are monitored with a view to identifying threats and opportunities. This enables the person in charge of communication to strategically analyse and deal with the issues. In this case, the FCMB’s communication team did a scan of the twitter environment to identify the issue of the girl reading under the light of the ATM gallery. It was a smart move to have hijacked the case and turned it into a positive PR move for the bank. In this era, issues could be monitored on and offline as demonstrated by the communication team.
#E-word of mouth. When consumers reflect their interest in a company’s product or service in their dialogues, there is a word of mouth. It is useful for its credibility and believability. In the case under consideration, the kind of words of mouth generated through the move to sponsor Dele’s education by the FCMB is a naturally occurring words of mouth which is different from a deliberate attempt by a company trying to get talked about. That it happened on the internet is a plus. No one can predict its level of spread. It has spread beyond the customer base of the bank.
#Demonstrated Corporate Social Responsibility. What FCMB did was to create an image of a corporate body that takes its responsibility to the society very seriously. The image is undoubtedly boosted. The thread did not start from the bank, but it hijacked it and made it a plus to its own image among other banks in the country. To many, FCMB became a buzz word for a socially responsible corporate organization for that period.
Digital PR is for now and the future. The demographics of consumers and service users has changed. Today’s service users are more sophisticated more than ever before. The earlier businesses, small, medium or big, realize this fact, the better for them.