Thursday, January 17, 2013

A PR Perspective To Managing Party Nominations Crisis

We all woke up hopeful that the nominations would go down well, but barely a few hours into the exercise, disgruntled candidates who defected from their parties at the eleventh hour are now accusing their erstwhile parties for bias. Notably, ODM and TNA have been singled out as parties that have shown open preference for certain candidates.

While it is common knowledge that bad publicity is likely to come out of this nominations exercise considering the high stakes involved, the parties have an uphill task to either spin this bad publicity to their advantage or fight the bad publicity till it dies.
As a self proclaimed positive opinion shaper in the society, I beg to help the different political secretariats go through this turmoil with ease. 
It is evident that the parties had no crisis communications plan in place. But it is not too late to prepare one urgently while liaising with the key stakeholders of the parties, A first step would be to quickly chose a party spokesperson  that is capable of staying calm before the preying eyes of the many journalists criss-crossing the country. The spokesperson will be the only conveyer of news to the media. He should be able to handle all the pressure on behalf of the party. For example, ODM should quickly alert Prof Anyang Nyong’o and Ababu Namwamba that today is not their day, while TNA should quickly advise Sonko to keep quiet and let the respective spokespersons do their work.
Social media gave us the freedom to question and report anytime, so the spokesperson must also play into this space by ensuring that the public is informed at all times. While in 2007 we had to wait for our radio stations in the evening, right now I only need to prowl social media portals and I will have all the news countrywide. Speaking out gives you the ability to try and put out the fire surrounding your party.  Saying the wrong thing could seal your party’s fate though, so proceed with caution.  
Meanwhile, ask one of the many journalists that you poached from the media to quickly prepare a well thought-out press statement on hourly basis that will help in giving out your side of the story. You either do this or the reporters will file their stories without necessarily getting an explanation from key members of the party. I advise that you take the initiative to get them the information they are looking for before they cook up their own stories.
Finally use the pretty website, twitter & facebook page to post explanations of what is happening. This will allow you to get your side of the story across to the public directly thus providing a forum for them to vent and help calm down the situation.
YoungPRSpeak All said and done, while you endure the bad publicity, try and find some positive through the entire negative.  Perhaps there's a good news angle waiting to be uncovered.  


shitemi said...

Have you also considered trying to safeguard airtime in the media. In the age where politicians own media houses, its useful at such times, though ideally this should not be the case. Or just generally because some politicians in ODM and ONU have great rapports with editors, they can call them and send their spokes people or emissaries to deal with the crisis... a few thoughts from my end ndugu...

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