Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Drawing parallels between PR and Kenya’s political alliances


Despite the fact that we are not having our presidential elections till the third month of 2013, this has been among the most politically active years in Kenya. New parties have been formed, presidential candidates from all walks of life have come up and last week saw the largest contingent of civil servants stepping down from their pensionable jobs to contest for political positions countrywide.
But wait….. Why am I writing politics in a PR blog? During this exciting political season, businesses can learn a lot about the benefits of ongoing PR by observing political campaigns.
Candidates who have been in government like the Prime Minister aren't sitting back and waiting for March 4th to come. They're working hard to earn their votes, just like we have to earn business from our customers. How? By maintaining alliances, communicating proactively, managing budgets and raising funds. We have seen the formation of G7, all with the aim of forming a formidable political alliance.
Politicians know that allies are their most important constituents. That’s why Raila would do anything to ensure Henry Kosgei is by his side, Uhuru Kenyatta is doing all he can to maintain his G7 allies. Musalia Mudavadi is investing a lot in one Bonny Khalwale because he knows this is a season where your allies will matter.
That sounds obvious, but many businesses take their allies for granted and assume that they'll always be there. Or, they get distracted with trying to win over non-supporters. Nurturing relationships with current allies helps ensure that the foundation of support you've toiled for remains intact. Allies are your strongest supporters and promote your business to others by word-of-mouth. Look at what Otieno Kajwang and Ababu Namwamba are doing for the PM and you’ll see they are vocalists in ‘Raila’s Choir.’ Friends are the most credible advocates any organization can have because people trust "real" people much more than they trust advertisements or the media.
Proactively communicating with your publics is another factor in sustaining your hard-earned business. Businesses can follow the example of political candidates by including their contact information on all collateral materials, reminding the public about promises made and kept, repeating key messages, and informing them about anything new. On many occasions, Uhuru Kenyatta & Musalia Mudavadi have used their government roles/positions to remind the public of their political affiliations. That’s why it is very easy to get a para or two about TNA or UDF in a government speech.  Businesses that practice proactive communication are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy, approachable, and friendly, partially because they enjoy name recognition. Why do you think the PM has all over sudden started talking about the resettlement of the Mau evictees?
Budget management is often overlooked as being essential to the PR process. Because political spending is such a hot topic on campaign trails these days, candidates know that it pays to closely monitor their budgets, and to spend appropriately. On this front TNA has been very keen on raising funds for their campaigns, Martha Karua has also ensured that she provides several avenues through which her supporters can contribute to her campaigns. This will be a season where several high profile lunches & dinners will be hosted to raise funds for the different presidential aspirants countrywide.
Once a PR campaign ends, many businesses assume that PR-related expenditures can also stop. Depending on the size of your target audience and scope of your outreach efforts, you may need to set aside a standard budget for ongoing PR. Keeping accurate finances not only helps businesses stay out of trouble and within budget, but also provides a way to measure the effectiveness of their PR efforts. That is what will give ‘birth’ to several foundations come end of April next year so that the losers can maintain the momentum while looking forward to the next electioneering period.
Young PR says, Watch out for Uhuru Kenyatta Foundation, Raila Odinga Foundation, Musalia Mudavadi Foundation etc.

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