Hits and misses: How Akufo-Addo’s PR, media communications fared in 100 days


The 100-days of the president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo administration has not been without controversy.

There has been highs and lows in equal measure both of which have found expression in the media.

Three researchers , Dr. Etse Sikanku, Kwaku Botwe, & Selasie Kove-Seyram have chronicled the big moments of fame and shame in a piece titled “Hits and Misses: Ranking PR, Media and Communication under President Akufo-Addo’s first 100 days.


No matter how you slice it, the findings of plagiarism in the inaugural day speech of President Nana Akufo-Addo must be one of the most embarrassing moments of the young administration. It put us on CNN; it made us the laughing stock of the international media; it was simply embarrassing in a very painful way. When you earn a spot on Trevor Noah’s very much coveted “Daily Show” (with competition from the likes of Donald Trump) you know you must have done something really really bad.

The government apologized but this was just wrong in every respect. Administrations normally take a while to get their first major scandals but it looked like the Akufo-Addo government hit the ground with scandals. I hope the regime has exorcised whatever omen it was but kicking off your government with such a major international PR disasters is one of the worst possible beginnings anyone can imagine. Thankfully we haven’t seen any such plagiarism embarrassments after that.


Ministerial bonanza: For your  appointment Dial  *110#
The appointment of 110 ministers by our president Nana Akufo-Addo made sure Ghana was once again the item of ridicule by our own African brothers and beyond. On Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms comparisons were made to countries with even bigger populations but fewer ministers. Others also took the liberty to mock how Ghana had supposedly fallen so low after the high points of the Nkrumah era. It wasn’t a very comfortable feeling seeing your country being the subject of such ridicule. Everyone knows Nana Addo means well but this his 110 ministers conundrum just didn’t fly. We don’t know how Nana settled at 110 but the figure itself sounds like a toll free number. No wonder it was so easy to develop memes and make fun of.

Delta Force & political impunity
This has got to be one of the biggest disappointments of the Akufo-Addo regime so far. Here is a president and a government which prides itself in such enduring democratic principles such as the rule of law. In fact the entire political identity of Nana Addo is anchored on his lifelong commitment to law, discipline and justice. When you see Nana Addo you see law. Yet one of the central pillars of justice delivery–in fact the very crucible of legal adjudication–the judiciary has been seriously undermined by activities of a purported security group with affiliations to the NPP.

Mr. President has repeatedly and roundly condemned the petulant, nefarious and abominable activities of Delta force but one cannot ignore the feeling that more needs to be done. If you consider both the short and long term effects of these so called “vigilante” groups and then place it within the context of International security and law, you know this is one organism that needs no pampering. President Akufo-Addo has built a reputation as the embodiment of law. He’s got to walk the talk.


Independence Day Speech Brouhaha                                                                      

Overall, when one looks at the subtext and the connotation of the Independence Day speech you cannot help but conclude that the president wanted to re-present history in a way that favoured his party’s ideological leaning. The mere fact that the president chose the Independence Day to tell us about our history, which we mostly know already, raised suspicion. The public reaction (the conflict and drama) afterwards confirms this.

This is rather unfortunate because the speech contained references to some great national figures but all in all, it did tilt towards emphasizing certain partisan ideological heroes with sympathies to the NPP/UP tradition. The speech was unduly bent in terms of foregrounding individuals more attuned towards the NPP’s ideological strain.  Sure he did mention Nkrumah and others but generally you leave that speech knowing there was an attempt to promote the Danquah-Busia tradition/elements of our historical narrative. Public opinion was heavily divided and a speech which should have brought the country together on Independence Day rather deepened the ideological schism within the country. Not cool.

Galamsey Communication and “Ministerial Begging”                                          

Galamsey or illegal mining has become one of the topical news stories under the Akufo-Addo regime so far.  Various stakeholders including the media, politicians and civil society need to be commended for the campaign and sensitization. However not many Ghanaians were happy with the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu for some of his language/communication/conversations and posturing during his interaction with the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana and the Mayor of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Province (where a majority of Chinese illegal miners are purported to have come from). CITI FM for instance reported that the Minister was “practically begging” the Chinese to help fight the menace. Many felt the Minister should have taken a firmer stance during his communication with the Chinese team.

This is understandable to the extent that such posturing during conversations like this determines or indicative of the balance of power when it comes to international communication. It somewhat makes Ghanaians appear powerless while tilting power towards the Chinese. We all know that in such delicate international dialogues one party is likely to dominate the conversations with the view to maintaining influence and power over the other. Hon. Amewu did not help matters in this particular case.

From an international communication perspective it indicates, even if peripherally, that the ideological framework underpinning Ghanaians relationship/dialogues with the Chinese is hegemonic. Let’s not forget that according to international communication scholar Thussu (2000) “communication has always been critical to the establishment and maintenance of power” (p.1). For a free, independent African nation with a full-fledged democratic credentials— the star of Africa and leader of the African independence movement—this is not acceptable. Not in 2017. Not in the 21st century. Not ever at all.



Nominee announcements: Akufo-Addo Style

Before Nana Addo, the typical style of announcing ministerial nominees had taken the form of a press releases.

Brief SONA (State of the Nation Address)

Brevity, they say, is the soul of wit. This saying may have its origin in literature but has a lot of implications in communication. Good communication is concise, devoid of clutter and bureaucratese. The president teased out the essential parts of the state of nation address and left the unintelligible jargons having in mind the state of the nation address (unlike the budget statement which may target experts and technocrats) is for the entire nation.  The president was fully aware of this and he kept reminding MPs who shouted in request of details that “this is not a budget statement”.

Press friendliness

The president has shown some press friendliness which is a good mark of democracy. Within the 100 day period he availed himself to journalists from GTV and Daily Graphic for questioning. This offered him the opportunity to address a myriad of issues including concerns over what many perceive as his bloated government. As one-sided as the communication maybe it still afforded the nation the chance to hear from the presidency on prime issues to concern.

By: Dr. Etse Sikanku, Kwaku Botwe, & Selasie Kove-Seyram

Contact: 020 3295907, 0244998642

Citation: Sikanku, Botwe & Kove-Seyram (2017). Hits and misses: Ranking PR, media and communication under president Akufo-Addo’s first 100 days.


Thussu, D.K. (2000) International Communication: Continuity and Change. London: Arnold.


Burson-Marsteller Africa CEO to head training workshop in Ghana


Robyn De Villiers, will be in Ghana to facilitate a training workshop entitled Corporate Branding and Reputation Management.

The half day training program will take place on Wednesday, 26th of April, 2017, and will cover key areas in Corporate Branding and Reputation Management, such as the process involved in Discovering, Defining and Implementing a Corporate Brand.

The training program aims to bring corporate organisations and individuals to a common understanding of the significant impact of effective communications and the benefits derived from managing public relations well.

With 25-plus years’ experience in the field of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Robyn founded a network of in country communications consultancies which provides local and international clients with market relevant communications services in over 50 African countries.

The Burson-Marsteller Africa network, of which Infocus Burson-Marsteller, Ghana, is a partner, is recognized locally and globally as the premier communications network on the continent and in 2016, Robyn was recognized by the Holmes Report, the PR industry’s most highly regarded trade publication globally, with an EMEA SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

A respected communications practitioner, Robyn is called upon by business associations and local and international communications associations to address, and facilitate training for, communications professionals, public relations and corporate communications students and corporate audiences on a range of topics including reputation management, issue and risk management and crisis communications management.

Commenting on her upcoming visit to Ghana, Mrs De Villiers said, “It is a privilege to visit Accra again and to be able to highlight the importance of effective corporate branding and reputation management to communications executives and organisations in Accra.  Globally it is accepted that CEOs are responsible for managing the reputations of their organizations and protecting the value of their corporate brands.  In my experience, this message is beginning to hit home in countries across Africa and I value the opportunity to   share my understanding of this increasingly important area of overall business success during my visit.”

Alberta Akosa, General Manager of Infocus Burson-Marsteller said, “Infocus Burson-Marsteller is honored with the presence of Mrs. De Villiers, an internationally recognized thought leader in corporate communications to facilitate the training, we extend invitationsto Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Senior Executives and Marketing Managers to participate as the Ghanaian market is growing increasingly competitive and customers are gradually evolving. Corporate branding and reputation management form part of organizational DNA and cannot be over looked.”

– Source: Citifmonline.com

A blender, a brand and a catastrophe: Case study of the Mawarko Foods crisis


No one can accurately foresee when a crisis will happen. They are sudden and unpredictable. The key to this is in how prepared one is to mitigate a crisis in the first place and then manage the process of returning the situation back to normalcy.

In the corporate world a crisis could either tank your business or serve as a catalyst for the improvement of business processes. Some areas prone to creating issues which eventually turn into crises are labour, operations, and management and environmental activities among others. Organisations need to be mindful of the potential of sour issues going incredibly wrong.

One organization currently facing a crisis in full bloom is Mawarko Foods. The company is one of the well-known brands when it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine. It is not uncommon to witness the unending queues of patrons, waiting their turn to sample a ‘Mawarco Shawarma’ et al.

Sadly, a recent incident involving the alleged maltreatment of staff on site seems to have shaken the foundation of business for this company. Organisations are not immune to crises. They need to insulate themselves from the devastating impact that crises can cause to their brands. History has taught the many of the effects of a crisis on the reputation of organisations with the likes of Enron, Domino’s Pizza and Johnson & Johnson.

In the grand scheme of things, one can use the Mawarko crisis as a case study on how a company should tackle any crisis and emerge reformed for future business operations.
The road to recovery starts with admitting that there is a problem (note that this may lead to and reach damaging proportions to the brand at the initial stage).Then a prudent switch to emergency mode and a prompt advance towards implementing a full crisis communication strategy to ameliorate circumstances must be pursued.

The purpose of the crisis communication strategy is to guide the organisation’s executives to communicate to its stakeholders and the general public on the events that have cast a negative perception on the integrity of the company; the crisis plan is the blue print of a clearly defined channel to alleviate negative repercussions.

One must always know that the media will do their job in sounding the alarm when things go wrong; but social media amplifies a crisis exponentially at astounding speed. This case is evidently a media crisis; it is important to understand the issues clearly, respond swiftly and to send out consistent messaging.

So, how did things get so out of hand for this company?

  1. Timing (delayed response): The issue happened on Sunday February 26, 2017; the company delayed their response (i.e. issuance of an official statement) until about a week after. By this time, different versions of the story had taken root in the minds of the public.
  2. Breach of crisis response protocol (the issue of spokesperson/s): It seems that there was no crisis management policy or strategy guiding the company in handling communications between the company and the outside world. Too many voices from the company were giving testimonies by granting interviews on behalf of the company.The official statement for instance, was attributed to the CEO, which should be no crime. However, two other staff, one is reported to be the “Public Relations Officer” and the other, a Supervisor, were heard on separate radio stations speaking on the issue and creating contradictions which undoubtedly inflamed tensions. Engagement with the media must strictly be for designated persons with the skill and approval from management.
  3. Social media and the missed opportunity: They missed the opportunity to actively use social media in time to reach the public. Public mob-waves began ganging up against the company with concerted cries from the public to boycott all services and products of the company. The issue began to   trend and spread on many other social media platforms.
  4. A struggling statement: Aside being late, the official statement from the company seemed wrought with contradictions. There were different accounts to the story from the various statements in the public domain which opened the company up for further mistrust and anger.
  5. Whistleblower Protection: This one is tricky but from the official statement given, the company created the impression that their internal structures were not strong. They stated categorically that though the issue happened, and was being managed by the HR department, management only got wind of the situation after the police   arrested the suspect.  Whistleblower protection is serious business. To ensure organiations are aware of all incidents within their walls it should offer immunity or full support and protection to staff who alert management of mishaps within the organisation.
  6. The “Lebanese company” tag: It emerged that the organisation is Ghanaian-owned and is headed by a Ghanaian. This was announced in their statement address and re-iterated by Lawyers for the firm during court proceedings. Granted that this fact is true, the company missed the opportunity to water down the “Lebanese companies exploit staff rhetoric”. Obviously, the Ghanaian public got enraged largely because the Supervisor was perceived as a hostile expatriate. However, regardless of the origin of the company, should the organisation have had a proactive crisis management strategy or plan  functioning, a large part of the company’s image could have been greatly salvaged.
  7. Distancing the brand from an individual:  In relation to the previous point, a clear crisis management plan would contain the situation enough to buy time for further investigations to be conducted. Clearly, this was an act of indiscretion on the part of an individual which was most unfortunate but should not have impacted the brand so.
  8. Connection between suspect and CEO: Because of the said family ties between the CEO and the suspect, the public felt the company was trying to sweep the incident under the carpet. Again, the company could have been smarter with their internal investigations and indicated their readiness not to tolerate any acts of abuse or bullying from Line Manager towards their Subordinates regardless of the relationship between  the alleged culprit and the owners of the company.

Someone aptly summed up the actions to take when hit with media crisis and the advise couldn’t be more concice.When handling a media crisis, be guided by these three principles:-

  1. If it cannot be explained, it cannot be defended:- If the issue is bad, own up to it and apologize.
  2. You’ve got to tell the truth; be selective. There’s a time and place for everything. Tell the truth and as little as you need to, but enough to please the media and the different stakeholders interested in the crisis. This is where a PR Specialist (in-house or retained) is needed to navigate the course of communications surrounding the crisis.
  3. When there’s a crisis, there’s also a great opportunity: the spotlight is already on the company: use it favourably to your advantage

Once the public sees a concerted effort to genuinely make amends all the tension will eventually subside.


Crises communication is a product of crises management. Crises management is a metamorphosis of issues management. Organisations need to deal with issues before they get out of hand. Ronald D. Smith, author of Strategic Planning for Public Relations, 2005 gave the analogy of  issues management being somewhat similar to steering a sailboat which runs with the wind. When the wind happens to be blowing in the direction you want it to go you make progress against the wind. Sometimes you need to work to have the wind in your favour, sometimes you stall when there is no wind; you adapt to a constantly changing environment. In a crisis, the analogy can be likened to riding out a storm on the high seas; the best anyone can do is drop the sails, hang on and hope the boat is strong enough to survive without too much damage.

The Mawarko story is now included in the library of crisis communication case studies for organisations to learn lessons from and students of Communications to dissect and earn marks for exams.

By:  Henking Klonobi Adjase-Kodjo

Djembe Communications signs MoU with The One Event


Djembe Communications, a pioneering Pan-African communications consultancy, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The One Event (TOE), a leading Ghanaian public relations and events management agency, to form a strategic partnership.

Combining Djembe’s award winning international corporate communications and financial PR capabilities with TOE’s consumer PR and event expertise is a strong offering to existing and potential clients in Ghana and West African region.

In a release issued to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, it said the expanded team, consisting of Djembe Country Manager Toyin Dania and TOE’s team of seven Ghanaian staff, will be in an even stronger position to deliver successful and impactful communication programs for clients with a particular commitment to both Anglophone and Francophone West Africa.

In Ghana to announce the MOU, Djembe Communications’ Director-International, Kevin Nolan explained, “We are thrilled to further grow our presence in Ghana with this partnership with TOE.”

He said the company would now offer clients not only an added consumer PR and events capabilities but also be able to provide clients more in-depth insights in the West African regional market.

“Being the communications partner of choice across Africa, we are investing in expanding our local presence in key markets such as Ghana. With our cross-border approach when it comes to building strategies and delivering campaigns for our clients, the Ghana TOE team will be an integral part of our global network and be a benefit to all of our clients.”

He said in addition to their presence in Ghana, Djembe is present in Angola, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States through a wholly owned and integrated network of offices.

Paschorina Tedjame-Mortty, Managing Director of TOE, added, “At TOE, we recognize that the world is constantly evolving and we must be ahead of this evolution. We are therefore excited about the potential and injection of energy our strategic partnership with Djembe Communications presents not just for us, but for our clients across West Africa and the ever evolving Ghanaian business community.”

“Our values that are centered on going the extra mile and providing high quality, creative services will only be amplified by Djembe’s award winning capabilities and solid African footprint.”

The two companies would be working closely to service existing clients such as Vlisco, Philips, Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation and Infinix amongst others.

They would both consult across the whole spectrum of communications encompassing consumer marketing, digital, events management, reputation management and stakeholder engagement as well as branding and design.

Source: GNA