Opinion: The Role PR Firms Must Play In Social Media Savvy Africa

Written by Staff

From BizNisAfrica. Story by Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, founder and CEO of African Press Organization (APO), a press release newswire in Africa.

With the increasing popularity of social media, the power of the Internet and the likes of Google, content has become more important than ever.

In Africa, where people use social media to communicate on everything from product reviews to political uprisings, PR firms have had to shake off their one-size-fits-all approach and adapt content to meet the trend influencer as well as the cultural landscapes of these markets.

The expertise of local PR practitioners varies across the continent but many have yet to find the perfect recipe for creating valuable content and attracting the full power of the media across borders. Content from editorial sources carries far more weight than marketing content simply because it is an editor’s role to uncover the truth.

Richard Uku, head of corporate communications at the Lome-based Ecobank Group, is a firm believer in the power of public relations.

“Strategic public relations entails direct and often interactive engagement with one’s target audience. Such engagement, whether through the vast reaches of social media or by simply reaching out and cultivating relationships with stakeholders, is a much surer way of raising awareness around an issue and ultimately changing behaviour than commercial marketing. The power of a well written article is far more poignant than an advert that merely plays on the consumers’ intelligence,” says Uku.

For a product, a personality or an issue to make the news, you need a good story, one that journalists will pick up and run with, becoming a trusted emissary for your message. This is why PR firms must play a proactive role in changing mindsets in order to redirect the budget towards public relations. Advertising costs are excessive and short lived, where their success is only dependent on who else is represented next to them in the magazine, newspaper, radio spot or web portal.

Sparking trending conversations not only requires social media audiences to retain light-fingered attention spans but also a multi-faceted relationship with news makers to simultaneously expand the trend; it is undeniable that nowadays we are bombarded with news of all sorts – hence the term “trending on twitter” is now necessary to highlight your story. This is the natural habitat of the PR animal and the reason why having an effective PR team is crucial to any communications strategy – there is only one chance to make a first impression.”


Read more at BizNisAfrica.