Cheerful, energetic, and a passionate teacher, Presly Ogheneruke Obukoadata has, since the spring of 2014, been an instructor of public relations, advertising and communication research in the Department of Communications and Multimedia Design, CMD, at the American University of Nigeria, AUN.
Recently, Dr. Presly had the final viva voce (oral defense) for his doctoral degree at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the same university where he had previously bagged a master’s degree in Mass Communication. His doctoral thesis is entitled “Brand Equity Communication Strategies of Two Nigerian Breweries and Consumers' Preference for Alcoholic Beverages” and it focuses on two leading alcoholic beverage brands in Nigeria.
According to him, the study was borne out of his curiosity on whether consumers are loyal to alcoholic beverage brands for reasons other than brand inactivity. “I tried to find out whether consumers actually prefer a brand because of the extent of brand communication or because of some other things,” he explained. He noted that alcohol is a hedonic product, which means that some people take alcohol without being influenced by any form of brand communications. "The study was able to conclude substantially that marketing communications, brand communications, help, but they are not the sole influence that move people towards consuming alcohol,” he said.
Prior to joining AUN, Dr. Presly had worked as a lecturer in some tertiary institutions such as the Delta State Polytechnic, the International Institute of Journalism, and the National Open University of Nigeria. He has been in the academia for over 10 years, during which he wrote over 25 peer-reviewed articles that were published in international journals of repute.
He is also a member of several professional bodies, including the African Council for Communication Education, ACCE, International Society for Development and Sustainability, Japan, Nigerian Institute of Personnel Management, NIPM, and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR.
If Dr. Presly, who turned 41 in April, accomplished all of this with his master’s degree, why then did he decide to pursue a doctorate degree? “Status conferral! And then, the love for knowledge,” he was quick to say, noting that having a PhD opens doors: “With a PhD, people will listen to me more, especially when I talk about my research findings.”
Presly started his PhD program in January, 2012. He spent a year doing coursework, and spent three more years doing fieldwork: collecting and collating his research data for final analysis. How did he feel having to go through the rigors of a doctoral research? “It’s a very interesting process…very interesting, and challenging; it gives you better understanding of what you think you already know, because you try to look at it critically,” he said.
One would expect a new doctorate holder to want to over-rate his achievement, but Presly insists that having a PhD does not make one any different from who s/he used to be. “It does not feel as if some supernatural thing has happened to you…but it makes your sense of judgement better than it used to be,” he explained. For him, the difference that having a PhD makes lies in a tale that one of his teachers told him sometime ago. "One of my teachers told me that when you get a master’s degree, it means that you have mastered that particular field, but when you go for a PhD, it means that you now understand the philosophy and the logic behind what you are doing, what you are saying, and how it is being done.”
Ever the empathic teacher, Dr. Presly has some words of counsel for people who are studying for a PhD and people who plan to pursue one in future, “I’ll advise them to be disciplined, to be focused, to be committed, and to have passion for what they are doing or wish to do,” he counselled.
The consummate PRAD professional noted that he deployed his professional skills to gain his colleagues' goodwill, understanding and acceptance. “You can’t take that away from any research work, the faculty around you, they are one of your biggest resources, not just the books,” he said. "Yes, I will tell you clearly that Jacob Jacob spent some time looking through my work and addressing critical issues. The late Dean Akpan actually took my work home for three weeks, looking through it to see where he could make one or two inputs. And on Saturdays we’d just sit down in the office for 5, 6 hours -- we’re looking over my work, as if he was my supervisor; and of course these were fantastic corrections. Several other faculties also helped out; I had to meet some of them in mathematics and statistics to seek ideas and advice on how to interpret my data." So collaboration in research for Dr. Presly is a sine qua non: “Any research work in which you think you’re an island of knowledge will definitely fail because people will puncture it from left, right, and center."
Now that he has achieved his age-long desire, is it time for Dr. Presly to fish in another water? "I can never leave academics; I may only leave the four walls of the classroom, but I can’t leave academics,” he assured. For him, "The future is research, the future is knowledge, the future is learning, because in finding out, you learn more!”
Wait a minute, what's Dr. Presly's favourite brand of the alcoholic beverages he studied? He promised to tell whoever asks him; so find out the next time you see him.
By Zamiyat Abubakar, Cletus Ilomuanya, Kenret Jonathan, Fawaz Garba, Olalekan Adeyelu and Wadi Ishaku