Global PR Companies Venturing into Africa

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The African continent has been in the media for the wrong reasons including conflict, famine, disease and war. In addition, much of the continent has been referred to as dark and unexplored. However, the trend is now changing and media investments are taking place all over Africa. The Africa Development Bank is in a bid to rewrite the script for the continent. More so East Africa has pioneered an initiative in Arusha, Tanzania. It has brought together 300 journalists who will report on the positive aspects of Africa.

Kenya is also becoming a strategic market and gateway to Africa. The Public Relations (PR) growth and expansion that the country has experienced is a phenomenon. Nairobi city in Kenya has developed into a strategic communications hub that has wired the entire continent. A good example of this is the PR firm Scangroup which is based in Nairobi has its operations all over Africa. The question that needs to be addressed is “why the interest and awareness of PR in Africa?”

There are multiple factors that reflect the increased media awareness in East Africa and the African continent as a whole. Some of them are discussed below:

The Growth in Training Institutions
There has been an increase in the establishment of training institutions in the continent. These institutions equip personnel with the relevant skills that will help them to them create innovative PR campaigns. From the south of Africa to the north, universities and colleges of international repute are entering the market to bridge the skill gap. In Kenya, University of Nairobi and Daystar University have PR degree programs that are focused on building a skill-based workforce.

Brand Popularity
From the automobile to the Smartphone market, Africa is developing a sense of awareness on the brand strengths of different products. In view of the financial situation, some brands market themselves well as low and middle market end products. This appeals to the general population driving their popularity. Tecno, a China-based phone manufacturer is capitalizing on PR to give the customers a listening ear. This has allowed them to develop products that match the exact needs of the target market. In the markets in which it operates, technology controls about a one fifth of the market share.

Demand for Pan-African PR Skills
Many multinationals are launching their operations in Africa. Companies launching their establishments in countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and other Eastern African countries will need professionals from within the continent to market their products and services effectively. This has increased PR awareness within the continent both for the consumers and the PR specialists.

The Growth of the Social Media Community
Long ago, many of the African customers had to engage in face to face complaints and enquiries. However, this is changing fast. With a majority of the population being technology savvy, the access to services through social media platforms is gradually taking shape. This has forced many companies operating within the region to increase their PR awareness through strategic campaigns. Banks such as Equity Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank and other regional banks like United Bank of Africa, have social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This points towards the increased pressure to maintain their brand equity and reputation.

Recommended PR Media to Use in Africa
Television (TV) has been one of the favorite PR channels that agencies have been using to relay their campaigns. Together with the high consumption of newspapers, a major portion of the population subscribes to TV.. With rural electrification programmes being rolled out in countries such as Kenya, it is very likely that viewership will increase rapidly. Internet accessibility has also improved with many players coming in to provide low cost domestic and commercial wireless connections. This enables streaming and downloading of adverts posted on the internet. SEACOM, Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) and West Africa Cable System have increased the degree of internet connection and penetration.

The Future of PR in Africa
With much of the continent remaining untapped, larger investments are coming in as evidenced in the East African market. This is backed by huge infrastructural developments such as training schools and internet connectivity. Some of the adverts and PR campaigns designed in Africa have gained regional and international appeal. The Tusker (beer brand owned by East African Breweries) “Refresh Your Roots” campaign is one of the greatest PR movements uniting East Africa to the global community. The advertisement was designed by James Dawe on behalf of one of United Kingdom’s most creative agencies AMVBBDO. It has not only boosted PR awareness in Africa but also opened up possibilities for future partnerships with global PR firms.

Tusker Beer

James Dawe for Tusker (Photo credits Pocko.com)