A healthy dose of realistic optimism
There was an upbeat mood when communicators, agency folk, academics and journalists gathered at the first In2 Innovation Summit Africa hosted in Johannesburg by the Holmes Report last week. It was the morning after the South African Constitutional Court ruling about the controversial Nkandla case and you could feel a sense of optimism.
Maybe this was because in today’s interconnected and interdependent world, PR professionals understand more than ever the role they can play in advising and influencing organisational leaders to do the right thing. Or perhaps we were just a bunch of lively professionals eager to share and debate the changing media landscape, embrace and hone new skills in a world that is colliding online and offline, and find new ways to advance communications in a unique African context.
I would like to believe it was a combination of the above. My three key take-outs from the day were:
- The mechanics of PR remain unchanged. We need to be able to craft the right message to the right audience, shared on the right platform, at the right time. The basics haven’t changed, but how we adapt to the new reality gives us the chance to reinvent, rediscover and reimagine.
- Communication needs to move people. We need to create campaigns that tap into human emotions. We must be relentless in pursuing creative ways to deliver memorable and impactful communication. In our logic we can sometimes lose the magic.
- Diversity is both a strength and a challenge. New and varied skill sets bring fresh thinking and insight which will enhance our communication efforts. On a continent of 54 countries, a one-size-fit-all approach will not work. Each market is unique and distinct, and we need to be cognisant of this if we are to succeed.
While our optimism around our President doing the right thing faded only a few hours after the conference, the world of opportunity for PR in Africa remains bright and vibrant.