The Comms Spotlight: Francis Jakpor, Senior Strategic Communications Specialist, Nigerian Economic Summit Group

At the early stages of his career, our Comms Spotlight for this week was called a rising star in Journalism. Francis Jakpor transitioned into a career in Public Relations building his expertise in various industries, as he served with PR agencies and reputable organisations. Francis is currently the Senior Strategic Communications Specialist at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, (NESG). In his interview with us, he shares about his transition from Journalism to the full spectrum of Communications and some highlights he’s experienced along his career journey.


Tell us how you began your career in Communications and the deliberate steps you took to grow professionally.

I started as a Sub-Editor with BusinessDay. Under the tutelage of Philip Isakpa, our Title Editor at the time, I rose through the ranks quite fast holding several very challenging senior positions in an acting capacity before I became Online Editor.

However, I still felt I could do and be more. So, I left BusinessDay in early 2012 to learn the rudiments of Public Relations at Absolute PR, BD Consult, and finally, Lagos Business School where I made a full switch to Corporate Communications.

I must add that leaving mainstream Journalism was a daring decision; after all, my mentors recognised me as a rising star. However, I needed to discover myself and the broader potential I was capable of.

What does your role as the Senior Strategic Communications Specialist at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group entail?

I am tasked with developing strategic communication and advocacy strategies to help the Group advance its mission and resonate more effectively with internal and external stakeholders. NESG seeks to champion the reform of the Nigerian economy into an open, inclusive, sustainable, and globally competitive economy. Achieving this feat requires top-line storytelling that strikes a chord with stakeholders and nudges them to take action in the national interest.

Put simply, my role blends Corporate Communications and Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC). It includes setting the strategic direction for Brand Management, Storytelling, Advocacy, Media Relations, Digital Media, Campaign Planning, and Content Development. Besides, I also manage a team of specialists who bring these moving parts to life as a cohesive whole that sparks positive change.

Can you share some major highlights from your career journey so far?

Switching from journalism to the full spectrum of communications is a milestone. My stint in PR is also noteworthy as it helped me build the industry profile of several top brands across the energy, technology, and FMCG sectors in Nigeria.

Working with Lagos Business School was an eye-opener. Despite being a relatively new entrant into Corporate Communications at the time, I co-designed and managed the school’s first-ever integrated Marketing Communications campaign, and showcased its faculty and achievements in world-class publications and broadcast platforms.

Working as a Marketing Communications Manager with Income Electrix between 2018 and 2020 taught me to be more independent, learn fast, and become a one-size-fits-all Communications Specialist. Under the Marketing Communications umbrella, I was a Graphics Designer, Web Manager, Social Media Specialist, Content Developer, Digital Media, and PR specialist.

As a Strategic Communications specialist with the NESG, I have raised the bar in Media Relations and storytelling, developed foundational communications for two semi-independent centres, and added an audiovisual component to our advocacy efforts through NESG TV.

Do you have any mentors or senior professionals who have supported your growth as a professional?

I’ve drawn inspiration from lots of individuals in the course of my career. However, I’d count Philip Isakpa, the Executive Director of Businessnewscorp, as my mentor. He showed me the ropes by throwing challenging tasks my way when I was starting out at BusinessDay.

The same goes for Yinka Iyinolakan, erstwhile Head of Strategic Communications at the NESG. He recognised my potential and walked me through Development Communications.

What are the most important qualities for a Communications Professional to have?

I’d recommend self-discovery; versatility, risk-taking, and commitment to learning as key qualities for aspiring Communications professionals. Narrowing these down to my personal experience, self-discovery nudged me to leave Journalism for mainstream Communications.

Through trial and error, I learnt that versatility keeps us relevant in the field. I’m experienced across the full spectrum of Communications. This has shaped my outlook and helped me stand out as a grounded communications professional. Starting out, I took calculated risks. I’ve worked in several toxic environments that were not conducive to my personal and professional growth.

However, I had no compunction quitting and starting again, until I found what was right for me. Lastly, expertise in Communications is a journey, not a destination. The Communications environment is fast-paced and innovative. We need to key into this to stay sharp and relevant. Good enough, reputable online learning platforms can help. This includes The Comms Avenue, EdX, Coursera, etc. Indeed, there is no excuse for ignorance.

What advice would you give young professionals who want to follow your path?

I would advise them to remain steadfast despite life’s adversities. My career path often takes me out of my comfort zone, but I’m always better for it.

Young professionals should start by knowing what they want and refuse to settle for less. With prayer and hard work, there’s no limit to the milestones they can achieve.


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