Why a strategic approach to public relations (PR) and Communications in Africa is the best approach for global bands entering the continent
Kwame Senou, Founder and Executive Chairman at The Holding Opinion and Public was attending the ICCO (International Communications Consultancy Organisation) Global Summit in Dubai, on 12 to 13 October 2022. The summit was themed ‘Being the Change’ and captures a shift in the role of PR firms advising clients not just to ‘say the right thing’, but to ‘do the right thing’ too.
It confronted communications and PR challenges of this decade, which include attracting and supporting the talent and skills required for modern communications; battling misinformation; public media education; and technological challenges that are all constantly evolving.
Mr Senou, participated in a panel discussion called ‘Africa Insights and Trends’. The discussion moderated by Maja Pawinska Sims, Associate Editor at PRovoke also had panellists Sarah Gooding, Managing Director Africa at WE Communications and Kamal Taibi, Founder at Strateus Group examining some of the common challenges, opportunities, and trends across Africa.
The discussion included growth and investment, talent, and recruitment, differing platforms and ways to reach audiences depending on regions, as well as adoption of new communications technology and tools.
Events such as the ICCO summit exist to remind the industry, globally that Africa is a focal growth point for international companies. International brands are better suited to engage with the local agencies when entering the market for better understanding and navigation.
“Collaboration with local businesses is crucial, not only from a navigation point of view, but from a socio-economic and organic reputation perspective. Word of mouth still works well, only fuelled through mobile, especially through mediums like WhatsApp. Brand presence and establishment gets known in a positive light when locals are involved, “says Mr Senou.
“Africa has 54 countries so whatever brand looking to communicate in it, should recognise the need to work with local people. And something that we do very well to achieve this is we recognise the power of partners across the continent, and we work with each other around the continent to ensure that we have the nuances covered.”
Mr Senou goes on to conclude and says that the opportunity for PR and Communications companies in Africa to have a strategic approach in the continent is rife. It is important for international brands entering the African market to seek guidance on the ground as this region is very nuanced and diverse.