When PAMRO (Pan-African Media Research Association) was founded 20 years ago it operated like an old boys’ club.
It had an esoteric demeanour and seemed open only to those in the know, and induction into the exclusive business association required substantial knowledge in media research as well as a healthy bank account.
It was a time akin to the scramble for Africa when media measurement companies viewed the continent as a blank canvas where they could apply brush strokes and mark territories that they wished to occupy.
The only difference between the aims of the proponents of Africa’s partition and the survey companies was that one sought to dominate, and the other wanted to empower through knowledge.
The benefits of research cannot be taken for granted and the evidence based strategy development in media and marketing communications has paid dividends.
Over the years PAMRO has opened its membership to a wider array of companies, bringing media owners, advertising agencies and advertisers into their fold.
This year the conference is scheduled for August the 26 to 29 in Lagos, Nigeria.
A cursory glance at the delegates list demonstrates the vast reach of the business association.
Leading Pan-African media executives, global brand heads, and ad agency strategy teams fill the slots along with the regular media research managers who have been consistent over two decades.
This is the first and most important part of networking — getting the right people into the room — and the conference work-group puts a tremendous amount of time and effort in ensuring that it is attractive to the luminaries of media, marketing and advertising industries.
So take freshly printed business cards and brush up on your elevator pitch because the opportunities to meet future business partners, clients or vendors abound.
The excellent mix of delegates has resulted in an evolution of content style and presentation which is now more relevant to wider audiences with diverse interests.
A programmes committee ensures that only high quality presentations make it onto the agenda, keeping it fresh, avoiding mind numbing repetitions, and ensuring that delegates have new knowledge to take home.
Featuring the theme A Billion Africans and the Billion Dollar Question, the papers are being selected to illuminate the common nuggets that exist for the stakeholders across the continent.
However, the conference would not be complete without meeting and interacting with other delegates and this has been catered for in interesting and exciting ways.
On the first night, a business speed-dating session is set to help participants know who’s who and is an excellent start to the networking opportunities. There are sponsored dinners every evening, not to mention the gala event where the Piet Smit Lifetime Achievement Award winner is revealed.
I was recently told of a credible study that indicated that the best ideas are often crafted in a bar, and though I’m not privy to the methodology used, I could have told them that for free. You can be sure that the bars around Lagos will be open late for just that type of activity but don’t forget to carry a notebook, especially if you drink those exotic cocktails that can erase the hard drive.