Undoubtedly, the hottest scandal last summer was Bell Pottinger. But the PR company unethical actions might have been the greatest thing to happen to the African PR industry.
Last summer I worked as a PR intern at LAS Consultancy, in my home country, Tanzania. I wrote a 2 blog post ‘How PR is done in Tanzania: Part 1 and 2, where I raised concerns about situations I personally found to be different from theories taught in lectures. The scenarios we created in lectures tended to revolve around ethics but in real life that is not always the case.
After reading the 5 predictions for PR in Africa 2018. I was happy to see the conversation about the development of the PR industry in Africa start happening. The Bell Pottinger scandal brought attention to the practices of some PR practitioners in the continent. And a fire was lit to change the way “PR” is done. For the purpose of keeping this short and sweet. I will only raise specific points in the article that I want to break down with you guys…
The article first prediction is that special attention will be made to make sure that PR practitioners behave ETHICALLY. When I first started my internship in Dar, I knew that there would be a difference in how PR is conducted. But by the end, the only difference I saw was the code of ethics. Unfortunately, people’s moral compass did not always lead them to the right path and resulted in practitioners cutting corners ( more details How PR is done in Tanzania: Part 2 ).
This is the universal problem for most LEDC/ NIC. There is no organisation to police practitioners or the very establishments are corrupt from within. In my opinion, it is time for a little spring cleaning.So my first hope for PR x Africa 2018 is, for there to be an open discussion about the unethical activities that have gone on. And a plan on how we can solve the problem.
Like the saying goes the first step in getting better is admitting you have a problem.
The article predicts the current ethical guidelines will be reviewed, by African Public Relation Association, and new ones will be created and distributed across the continent.
This is when the sceptic side of me comes out. Communication and the distribution of information to all the appropriate channels have always been where trade associations fail. Therefore, my second hope for PR x Africa 2018 is that important information gets to EVERYBODY. Global PR company or not.
The third prediction is renewed emphasis on reputation management. Akon (yes the rapper) spoke at 2017 Youth Connect Summit in Rwanda, and he echoed the responsibilities young African content creators have on re-branding Africa’s reputation. It wasn’t until the Bell Pottinger scandal, that people realised just how PR can affect our lives. Even though a lot of attention has recently been brought to the industry what is still lacking is knowledge.
The article mentions more panel discussions from PR leaders sharing the impact of PR, and how it can be a source of good and not just for businesses. My third hope for PR x Africa 2018 is that more people across the continent get educated, on how PR can change Africa’s reputation.
I have always said that Africa is a sleeping giant. It’s time for us to wake her up.