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Good PR is not just advertising

By Haggai Matsiko

Goretti Masadde is the new president of the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU). Haggai Matsiko spoke to her

What is company Public Relations, PR?

PR is basically the successful development of relationships between the key stakeholders of the business, maintenance of these relationships and effective management. These stakeholders include the internal customers (staff), the B.O.D, suppliers, directors, suppliers and external customers being regulators, the communities of public, and the government. PR creates an environment for business to flourish.

Why do Ugandan companies seem to lag behind in PR?

PR is costly and some companies can just advertise. But advertising is information from the company to the consumer; if the consumer does not like it too bad, if they like it lucky for the company. Companies must understand that they must have a cost customer focus or a stakeholder focus. They must have a strategic approach to PR; it is no longer propaganda because people are now more informed. You need to have a PR programme and invest in it. Put money aside for the community, with a good product and good advertising, you cannot go wrong. You endear yourself to the community through Community Social Responsibility (CSR), and events sponsorships.

As PRAU president, you say you want to professionalise PR; does this mean it has not been professional?

It is professional but it needs to be advanced. Most PR practitioners have studied Mass Communication. If you want to be a PR officer, most companies will tell you that your job is to write press releases and a few other things. People view PR officers as reactive not proactive; we have got a crisis, go and speak for us. You may not be aware of what the crisis is about but you know you have got to go and speak. You are sent out to extinguish a fire that was set, yet strategic PR should be at the point where you should be able to anticipate the fire, contribute before the fire. PR is very broad. It connects the public to you, endears your customers to you, it can attract talent, it can also make your staff loyal to you, it has got a big strategic role. So when we talk of professionalizing that is what we are talking about. There are certain opportunities through the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), ACCA and other courses. Those courses add professionalism because they have got a balance of theory and practice and the changing trends.

How do you intend to achieve this?

We want to structure ourselves internally, to categorise, student member, affiliate member, associate member and then a fellow with different levels of experience and achievements. This kind of categorizing will make people want to progress by themselves.

Two, we will associate with an already internationally recognised body the CIPR to be an award centre for CIPR. These would motivate people to upgrade their standards. Then we have the PR excellence award, we set standards which are really benchmarks of PR excellence and professionalism.

What does your job as head of corporate communications entail?

I would say brand management and marketing, developing customer relationship and management programs. It also entails handling crisis or crisis communications.

Who is Goretti Masadde?

I am PRAU president and head of corporate communications, Global Trust Bank. I am a person with perfectionist tendencies. I value professionalism, continuous improvement and ultimately excellence. I value justice and objectivity and I am simple fun loving person, I like to have a good laugh. I dislike monotony, subjectivity, and hate complacency at work.

What are some of your biggest achievements?

I am the first female PRAU president and first practicing brewer at Uganda Breweries Ltd. As a young brewer, then Bell Lager brand Manager, my brand grew 6 percent at a time when the total beer market fell by 3 percent due to the influx of non-branded alcoholic drinks. I initiated the use of music venues for promotions as opposed to hiring music for every promotion which was expensive. My boss, Baker Magunda pointed it out to me in a performance appraisal.

I also developed a plan for the wildlife education centre that saw the ‘World Bank Protected Areas Sustainable Use’ (PAMSU) Project Supervision team approve an extra US$250,000 grant for UWEC infrastructural development. On top of developing the Global Trust Bank brand from scratch, coordinating the compilation and procurement of all the bank’s branded stationery in readiness to start the bank in a space of two days and later as a team, repainting and rebranding all CMF branches in almost just a single weekend.

And dreams?

I have always wanted to be a marketing guru but this has changed to PR. I am now dreaming of being an entrepreneur and PR trainer. I would love to venture into food science communication. I studied food science for my bachelors.

Studying food science and ending up in PR, does this say anything about whether one needs to study PR to practice?

To succeed in PR you must get PR training in your career, I maybe a food scientist but the training in marketing at Uganda Breweries (the Diageo Way of Brand Building) and my CIM qualifications are responsible for my grounding in this PR role. So even with experience, you must undertake training to be good at what you do otherwise you may remain at the tactical level of PR which is what PRAU wants to fight.

 

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