On 3 December I spoke at the Corporate Communications and PR conference organized by ASM Communication. The day long workshop involved discussions with delegates from Government and Industry around the media landscape, needs and challenges facing the media, reputation and crises management.
PR profession in its infancy
It occurred to me that the industry in Botswana is in its infancy facing many similar challenges the PR industry had in the last two decades. The true value of what PR professionals do within organisations’ is not understood and the industry has a big educational job to do in terms of the value of PR.
On the flipside, the media landscape in Botswana is different as Government organisation’s and big business wield their power of influence to shape and dictate the news. The challenge for professionals in the industry – journalists and PR alike – is to stand tall in their professions and remain true to their roles. This is very difficult for media who rely heavily on advertising to remain profitable.
I predict however, that this hiatus will not last more than a decade (if history is anything to go by). The challenge I put out to PR professionals at the conference is to produce high quality news that adds value to the media thus enabling them to provide readers with better content - thereby building positive media relationships for now and the future.
•Keep digital in their sights as the public shift to digital as a means of communication – this has not yet happened in Botswana
•Lead the conversation of PR towards strategic and business speak – set objectives and measure results
•Elevate the role of PR into one of custodians of the organisation’s reputation and drivers of positive relationships with all stakeholders
•Encourage Government and Industry to deal with crises more effectively by being more open and forthcoming with information and resolution
I was encouraged to hear that PRISA will be opening a local office in Botswana in the near future and I am sure they will be able to assist PR professionals with the task of elevating the role of PR in the country.