Ekoe Okoduwa: Bespoke PR/Brand Perception Consultant

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Ms. Ekoe Okoduwa who is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Omia Poise, is also an etiquette, perception manager and branding consultant. In this interview with Nume Ekeghe, she shares her journey into bespoke PR/ brand perception consulting, as well as etiquette

How has life been for you and your firm?

My early years began in Port Harcourt from primary school to briefly going to school in Benin and then back to Rivers State. No one ever believes but I did study electrical/ electronics engineering in university. I only practiced my course during my NYSC service and I shifted to more Human Resources jobs. Omia Poise started out as a lightbulb moment between two friends having a conversation. I have always been known over the years as the hostess with the mostest, choosing the right silverware, glass cups for every occasion, giving the right advice on how to give the right impression so it wasn’t a surprise when my close friend talked me into turning the passion into business.

At first I was a bit hesitant but I gave in because I asked what’s the worst that could happen and from there Omia Poise was born. Omia Poise is a bespoke PR/ brand perception consulting firm. We cater to businesses, organisations and individuals that want to give their organisation’s personality a face lift.

You have mentioned your various business spread, can you speak on the etiquette arm, what made you venture into this?

We ventured into this type of consulting because we felt it was one area most organisations didn’t focus on. When the company started, it mainly focused on etiquette, it’s various types. Along the line, we realised that image and etiquette went hand in hand together and also we couldn’t cater to all the facets of etiquette and image, so a segment had to be picked to cater to a particular target market and research on issues that were surrounded with that target market and pick out solutions to solve the issues.

Now can you elaborate on your coaching journey and how you intertwine it with etiquette?

We wouldn’t call it coaching per se because you need to have a constant relationship with a coach. What we do is more of training and advisory that is bespoke to the organisation. The journey so far has been somewhat bitter sweet but we will expatiate further.

The services your firm offers is a new and growing industry with not a lot of practitioners in it, how have your services been perceived in the market?

The perception honestly has been quite interesting. There have been remarks of our services only catering to the elite because of the history of etiquette which isn’t so far off from the truth. Also we get the wrong perception of once they see etiquette, image, they think it’s to learn how to use the fork and knife, saying please, thank you and I am sorry which most times it’s quite funny. At the end of the day we have to give an orientation of what we do, our services, change the perception and then they pay attention.

What have been your major challenges so far and what have been your successes?

Do we have all the time to talk about our challenges? Well I think the one challenge I get the most is from the individuals in the organisation. There’s this mindset that if it’s not going to put money in my pocket, it’s not necessary but I beg to differ. A young man or woman leaves the university and gets a job. The organisation organises an induction training where they are met with some parts of etiquette and perception management. If they don’t, they are brought into the workforce with no idea of how to dress, how to conduct theirselves during a business lunch, how to network when sent out to represent the organisation, the right kind of greeting or handshake or even posture. Whether the organisation likes it or not, our services are needed.

Are there any business propositions your firm has that distinguishes you from others?

Oh yes we have certain services that distinguish us from the rest. It is bespoke so our services are tailored to fit your organisation. We have services from mastery of customer care and all the facets, professionalism in the workplace, business etiquette, an introduction to basic etiquette and so many more. At Omia Poise, we just don’t train, we want to create an impression so from the phone call to physical meetings, we make sure you get the best of us and everyday we make sure we constantly find products that are appealing to our target market.

As an entrepreneur, what would be your advice to young entrepreneurs who would want to follow in your footsteps?

As an entrepreneur I will advise the young ones, never be scared of change. If something like the name or a product doesn’t work, take it out and look for something better. Initially we were an etiquette/ perception management consulting firm but I realised that the time I could have used to book future clients when having a meeting for the first time, I was using the time to explain what we actually do.

You don’t have to start so big. With the pandemic still ongoing, gone are the days of skyscrapers as offices though when you occupy such a place, you can charge with no fear but that should come much later when you have established your company and even at that learn remote working, that was something I had to learn and honestly I don’t regret.

You don’t need to know everything. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Focus on your strength and employ your weaknesses, that way the business doesn’t have to suffer.

Practice what you preach. Once people know what you do, you will become a walking example of everything you preach because they are constantly watching you. I got a client through that means.

Always get a second opinion, from your staff and also close associates. You might have this idea in your head that looks perfect but someone else might see something else and give you a different perspective and Get a business coach, only then can you have a road map to achieve all that you want

What can your clients expect from you in the future?

Our clients both old and new can expect a lot from us. The pandemic during the lockdown was an eye opener. It opened my eyes to the services that the company could include in our bouquet. From luxury brand management to crisis management for small business and multinationals. Our customer care series will always be a constant but something is in the works for that particular segment and also to make it much more bigger and create a bigger conversation around the customer service in Nigeria.