Meet Nicolas Pompigne, Founder of APO Group whose company is celebrating 15th Anniversary
TOP AFRICA NEWS has exclusively interviewed French-Gabonese self-made entrepreneur Mr. Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder, Chairman and 100% owner of APO Group, the leading pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service. Mr. Pompigne arrived in Kigali, Rwanda last week and he will return back Friday October 7th 2022.
By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
Congratulations on 15 years of APO Group! Tell us about the background of the company and how far you have come.
I founded the company in 2007 because, as a journalist working in Europe at the time, I was frustrated at how difficult it was to find information about Africa. My idea was to make press releases about Africa easily available in one place so that international and African journalists could access credible news from multiple sources.
Back then it was just me operating out of my living room at home. Now APO Group is the only truly Pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service with hundreds of clients that include multinational companies, private and public institutions, and governments. We have built a team of local experts operating ‘on the ground’ all over the continent, and the deep relationships we have established with the African media over the last 15 years has meant we are the natural choice for any organization looking to develop their presence in Africa.
APO Group has recently inked a deal with the Catholic Church. Tell us about that deal?
In May, APO Group began a working partnership with the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), aimed at providing extensive Media and Public Relations support to the Catholic Church in Africa. SECAM is the governing body of the Catholic Church in Africa.
There are more than 250 million Catholics in Africa – that’s more than 19% of the population – and the work the Catholic Church is doing managing hospitals and clinics, and building schools makes them the single most impactful institution on the continent.
By working with SECAM, APO Group will bring greater cohesion to the Church’s communications strategy, facilitate meetings with media and other organizations, and, ultimately, raise the profile of the Catholic Church in Africa.
One of our core initiatives has been the training of SECAM communications professionals within all Africa’s regional episcopal conferences. APO Group is about to train more than 120 people, with sessions in English, French and Portuguese to ensure we reach members all over Africa.
The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Vatican Dicastery for Communications in Rome and the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) to ensure the Church’s communications strategies and initiatives are disseminated across Africa and beyond.
Rwanda will host the Road Cycling World Championships in 2025. Can you tell us more about the increasing number of international sports events organized in Africa and the opportunities they present?
It’s fantastic news about the World Cycling Championships coming to Rwanda, and it is indeed one of many global sporting events happening in Africa over the next few years. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is coming to Africa, with the Youth Olympics Games to be held in Dakar, Senegal in 2026 – the first time any Olympic competition has been held on the continent.
These events are proving that Africa has the infrastructure, the expertise and the capability to host so-called ‘Mega’ sporting events like the Summer Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup.
APO Group has always been passionate about African sport. We are the Pan-African Public Relations agency of FIFA, the NBA, and the Basketball Africa League, the Main Official Sponsor of Rugby Africa, and the Strategic Partner of the Olympic Movement in Africa (ANOCA). We are also Official Partner to many other prominent sporting organizations including iconic French football club Olympique de Marseille (OM) and Africa’s first ever Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Tour team, Team Qhubeka.
APO Group is also part of a consortium of companies that is working together to design, implement and promote international sports events happening in Africa. For example, we will be responsible for the organization and the promotion of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament held in Ivory Coast. Our consortium is also building and implementing strategies for African countries and cities bidding to host sports mega-events.
Our colleagues in the consortium are: Vivendi Sports, an entity of the Vivendi Group (USD 16 billion revenues in 2020); Havas Group, one of the world’s largest global communications groups; Getty Images, one of the most trusted and esteemed sources of visual content in the world; and Eurovision, the premier distributor of sports and news content for the world’s top broadcast and media platforms.
It is an extremely exciting time for sport in Africa. These events have the potential to transcend sport and entertainment and deliver meaningful change for ordinary Africans. They provide role models for young people to aspire to, and bring much-needed boosts to African economies. Africa and Africans are slowly discovering that sport is also a business; a big business, in fact.
Indeed, I was in Cairo two weeks ago in my capacity as a strategic partner of the Olympic Movement in Africa. It shows how far we have come as a continent that Egypt has announced a bid to host the 2036 Summer Olympic Games. If successful, it will be the first time an African or Arab country has hosted the Games, so it is a huge opportunity. It is a bid that has the potential to unite the whole continent and the whole Arab world.
What is the role of APO Group in changing the narrative about Africa?
Africa is too often portrayed as a continent of poverty, famine, conflict, and corruption, and that narrative of negativity has become embedded in the public consciousness for too long. There are so many positive stories about Africa that deserve to be told. APO Group is helping to get these stories out to African and international audiences. That has always been our mission.
We are working with organizations that share the same vision, and that contribute to this effort. For example, we have the World Health Organization, Greenpeace, and the African Development Bank on our books – to name just a few. By supporting those clients, and hundreds like them, we are participating in a wider movement that is having a lasting positive impact on our continent.
Can you tell us about APO Group Revenues and how are they invested?
I started APO Group with €10.000 of my own money, and I am still the 100% owner of the company. We have never had any loans or external financing. We have always been completely independent, and our growth has always been entirely organic. This year, we increased revenue by 88% in the first semester, versus the same period in 2021, and we are reinvesting that money straight back into the business.
We have recently recruited senior staff from some of the most prominent Public Relations agencies in the world, including our new Vice President of Editorial and Content Strategy, Lindsay Farley, who joined us from Edelman, and our new Head of Design, Hussain Ali, who arrived from Ogilvy. We are also very close to announcing the name of our very first Chief Revenue Officer.
We have always been proud to be a ‘people first’ organization, and that shows in our staff and client retention rates. My colleagues are proud to be part of the ‘APO Group Family’ – and I am too!
What are the future plans of APO Group and how are you ready to stay on the top as far as PR work is concerned?
Next year, we will be focusing on two core projects. Firstly, we are continuing to invest in the digitalization of our press release distribution service. It is always our goal to ensure journalists can access our clients’ content easily and adapt it for their specific news output. We also continue to grow our network of online partners, thereby increasing the visibility of our clients’ news and ensuring it reaches a wider audience. APO Group has an unparalleled network of more than 450.000 journalists in Africa or writing about Africa, while press release content is also guaranteed to place on at least 320 African news websites, along with international platforms such as Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters, Factiva and Lexis Nexis.
The second project has been underway for some time. We will soon be announcing the launch of a dedicated Public Relations practice specialized in one particular industry.