25 June 2012 7 Comments

Brand Communications in Africa: Challenges of digital Public Relations and Marketing

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals


Digital communication across platforms is now a must. As we approach Social Media conference Lagos 2012 which holds on Thursday June 28, 2012, we are beginning to see why African market still has a long way to go. Many African brands are still in the region of ‘let us see how it goes first’. There is dearth of focused professionals who had chosen to stay within this field. The challenge of our so called 360 degree, jack of all trades approach to business still lives much to be desired. Let me acknowledge this is changing fast though.

 Brands continue to remain tight fisted with regards to appropriate budgeting. This may not be the general view but majority are still in this landscape. Brands continue to see the field as more of technology driven than that of ‘social-sphere’. Hence many continue to hire technologists, IT experts and hoping that will settle the problem.

We have forgotten people are behind the messages that are being circulated and not technology. Many professionals too have not distinguished their trades. It is a known fact that unlike before, professionals now have institutions to hone their skills.

Having said this, Digital Public relations and marketing in Africa may not be taken seriously by brands owners if the practitioners in the field refuse to solve the following problems.

Data: We have taken time to observe the scene for a while. Many of us professionals practising here do not focus on producing accurate data. In other climes, almost every quarter a new study is conducted. The data are provided or at least made available to all the concerned parties. This encourages development of interest and dialogue. The data also supply necessary ingredient for the way forward. Here, we hardly have a yearly study conducted. A major reason is that many brands/Agencies may not get enough support for such exercise.

Even those who want to pursue this adventure hardly get necessary support in terms of response time to questionnaire from respondents.  That is if they ever return them. Digital Public Relations and Marketing require data to work with. We do think the problem starts with African attitude to reading and writing culture. Some brand owners will not even want to give a written brief of assignment to be done. Many consultants have to sit down, engage in conversation with them, help them draft the brief while the employer of service just vets the brief.

Absence of required and helpful publication: In addition to the above, African market still suffer from absence of research work publications. In the western world, as soon as any serious digital platform is launched, professionals will seat down to study it with the aim of coming out with relevant publications that will aid, ease its use for every stakeholder. Recently Guy Kawasaki released a 150 page on Google plus titled: What Is The Plus! I constantly look out for this out of Africa and it seems we will have to wait for the proverbial ‘godot’. As an individual, I also take responsibility for this. But the question is how long shall we wait?

Absence of enabling environment and policy: As of today, stakeholders have not seen any reason to provide necessary enactment and laws as well as policy that will guide the use of digital platforms. This has allowed everything to go. No one has been held accountable for abuse of platform. In Nigeria, The Freedom of Information Bill seems like a toothless bulldog. Our findings across Africa may not be anything far from this.

Come Thursday 28th June, 2012 at Hocal Suites NIMR, 6 Edmund Street by Presbyterian Church Yaba Lagos, we will be focusing on some of these issues. Do not be left out. Time is 9.00am-3.00pm

Brand Communications in Africa: Challenges of digital Public Relations and Marketing

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