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

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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.

LOW POINT RANKINGS (STARTING WITH THE WORST) 

Plagiarism-gate
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.

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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.

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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.

Galamsey

THE HIGH POINT RANKING (STARTING WITH THE BEST) 

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.

References

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

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

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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.

Conclusion

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

Ghanaian CEOs who actively used Social Media to drive conversations around their Business in 2016

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It’s the last day of 2016. 365 days ago, I remember writing about CSR trends which emerged in 2015; at a time when my blog was teething. A year down the line, it’s been a great time of sharing my thoughts on PR, Marketing, and Social media from my one corner.

Coincidentally, today is the last day of the year and on my last blog for 2016, I highlight some CEO’s in Ghana, who used social media to drive conversations around their business and created valuable content on social media.

A few months ago, I remember Digital Communication and Marketing Expert, Kwabena Appianing urged CEOs of brands in the country that want to stay on top of the minds their consumers and clients to step up their efforts on social media.

He explained that the way we all communicate in our everyday life has changed; as everyone is more social today and taking a social approach to one’s business has a number of advantages because it embraces this change in communication.

Mr Appianing intimated that CEOs who have used social media to establish themselves as influencers in their industries have solidified both their company and their personal brands and that the reluctance of many CEO’s to use social media should be of optimum concern to those who manage their digital strategies.

In 2016, I identified six (6) young and enterprising CEO’s, who used social media to drive conversations around their business. So how did I go about selecting who to be on the list?

One of the biggest measures I employed in determining who to include was answering the question: who is creating true value or value-add on content for their followers/fans. I measured this in terms of originality, industry leadership, and insight into their organisation. Secondly, I took into consideration CEOs who actively and consistently, contributed to an agenda.

Drumroll…

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my CEO honours list for 2016;

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I wish I could say the CEO of Airtel Ghana is a rising star on social media but that isn’t the case. She is an established force. The erstwhile Marketing Woman of the Year has been using social media this year to actively push the S.T.E.M agenda she champions and other notable initiatives Airtel Ghana undertook throughout the year. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Airtel as a brand is doing very well on the telecommunications landscape.

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Nathaniel Kwabena Adisi otherwise known as Bola Ray in showbiz circles is the dynamic CEO of the EIB Network. During the early part of this year, I had the privilege of meeting him; as part of a work-related undertaking. After a conversation with him, I knew that the EIB brand was in good hands. Unlike the traditional CEO, Mr Adisi is young and active on social media. He uses it to promote the EIB brand and his Starr Drive programme and also motivate his followers/fans.

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If Akosua Kwafo Ogyiri puts you on her list of influential persons for 2016, then you have earned it. Derrydean also earns a place on my list. He calls himself the Chief Doer of DreamOval and he sure does makes things happen. I began following Derrydean Dadzie some months ago and he is a young man challenging and changing the status quo. He is active on social media and you can find him engaging contemporaries in debates around our socio-politics or using it to engage others about the DreamOval brand’s Slydepay and DOTTS series.

  • Godwin Martey (CEO, Websoft Solutions)

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He refers to himself as Big Godwin. Mr Martey is not just one of the rising young CEO’s in Ghana but one of the rising influencers on social media. From my one corner, I monitored his posts, which were about what Websoft Solutions was doing and motivational pieces for young Ghanaian entrepreneurs. His passions for success is infectious and if you doubt this, visit his facebook account.

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During the second half of the year, the young CEO of Beige Capital, one of the fastest growing Savings & Loans Company in Ghana, began using social media actively. I monitored him as he grew his following and drove conversations around the Beige brand, his successes, social change, and continental expansion for Ghanaian businesses.

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Last but not the least, I present to you Adiza. If you are looking for the definition of someone who knows her stuff, talks and walks her brand, she is a perfect example. During the year under review, she used social media to actively create awareness about the free initiatives and activities her business undertook while using her platforms to educate her following/fans about proper grooming and styling.

Do you know any other CEO in Ghana, who actively used social media to drive conversations around their business and social change in 2016? Let’s have more conversations in 2017!

Happy New Year!

Money Monster: 6 lessons I picked from the movie

George Clooney stars as Lee Gates in TriStar Pictures' MONEY MONSTER.
Lee Gates (played by George Clooney)

Money Monster was not one of the block buster movies of the summer but as a professional, the crisis communications aspect appealed to me. I saw the movie over the weekend and boy, it is pregnant with lots of lessons.

I know some of you have watched it. For those who are yet to, I won’t spoil the fun. But let me hasten to add – it is a good movie, which has the likes of George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Giancarlo Esposito to mention a few.

It takes the viewer through the twist and turns of a hostage situation, when a financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty Fenn are put under extreme pressure, after an irate investor demands answer for losing so much money for an investment Lee Gates vouched for.

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For me, the major lesson i took from it was Transparency. It revealed that corporate reputation management is not only about relationship with the media but also ensuring process and event transparency as a business. As someone once noted, nothing good comes from hiding issues from the public. Allowing them to generate their own perceptions could affect the image of any issue.

Without giving too much of the story line away, let me share with you six (6) lessons I took away.

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Caitriona Balfe (Diane Lester) and Dominic West (Walt Camby) 
  • The media won’t always have your back

As a PR professional, much of our work involves establishing and maintaining relationships with the media. Often, it becomes a win-win situation. However, one thing I realized in the movie was the fact that the media will not always have your back, especially if a crisis has a human-interest angle.

As the crisis intensified, CEO for IBIS Clear Capital, Walt Camby, was nowhere to be found. So, the first person Lee Gates contacted was Diane Lester, Chief Communications Officer. As he sought to interview her, she pleaded with Lee to ‘stick to the script’ because according to her, “I am in a tough position”. The Producer for Lee’s show, Patty Fenn (played by Julia Roberts), then tells her “We don’t do “gotcha” journalism. We don’t do journalism, period”.

Later when they (she, Lee and the rest of the crew) are held hostages, they realize IBIS is playing a dodgy game and begin to investigate them.

  • In a crisis situation, ask real questions and get some real answers

Patty Fenn to Diane Lester: “You have to ask some real questions and get some real answers fast.”

This was my one of my favorite quotes. After Diane Lester had indicated that she and her company don’t know what the root cause of the glitch was, she is advised to seek some real answers. At that particular point, their CEO went AWOL and the Chief Finance Officer wanted a buffer approach regarding media engagement.

As the media sought for answers, she had to provide it and began probing. With help from Patty Fenn, she was able to unravel the mystery behind the ‘glitch’.

  • Provide answers

As a business, you might have an impressive history but during a crisis, all people want/need is A-N-S-W-E-R-S. Yes, answers. Those affected in a crisis, don’t need corporate jargons and the rhetoric. They care less about what you don’t know and more about what they have lost and should know.

In the movie, Diane Lester, is heard saying during an interview, “The truth is that we don’t know…We don’t know why the algorithm suddenly went haywire.”

That response  in a later interview irked Kyle Budwell (played by Jack O’Connell), who had invested $60,000.

  • Don’t focus on the impact of a crisis on your business

One of the cardinal sins during a crisis is to focus on the impact on your business and not the affected. In some way, you might want to court public sympathy but that approach is counterproductive.

In the movie, one of the mistakes Diane Lester made, when she was interviewed during the hostage situation was to indicate: “This has affected all of us. All our Board, our Managers, including myself. Our pensions were depleted overnight. Our savings gutted like yours”.

During a crisis, the affected are everything and it is all about them and not your business.

  • Some in-house folks don’t regard the contribution of PR

Despite PR’s contribution to the strategic direction of a business, some people still disregard its efforts. The sad thing is those who do this are often in-house.

In the movie, Chief Finance Officer of IBIS, Avery Goodloe (played by Dennis Boutsikaris) wanted Diane Lester to stop talking to the media. When she questioned him, he demeaned her contribution as Chief Communications Officer by stating; “Now you listen to me, Diane. You are a CCO. And that is all you are and that is nothing. I’ve seen a dozen girls like you come and go”.

He even threatened to fire her if she doesn’t obey his directive but she was not scared to lose her job.

  • Having a Transparency Say-Do gap can affect your business

Transparency is in vogue and a new goal for many businesses. It is a basis of ensuring legitimacy in the eyes of shareholders, employees, and the general public. When a business is open about its operations, it earns a level of trust from stakeholders.

In the case of IBIS Clear Capitial, the CEO had a good track record but what boggles the mind is why he decided to breaching the trust of his clients by committing fraud. Even when the crisis had hit his company, he discloses to the public that an algorithm managing its portfolio ‘suddenly went haywire’; when that was a blatant lie.

Despite the fact that he sought to manage the crisis by staying off the radar, his company’s Communications Officer went extraordinary lengths to find out what really happened; because in ensuring transparency, you don’t just say it. You show it.

Marketing takeaways from the #KalyppoChallenge

Have you heard of the #KalyppoChallenge? I have and its spreading like wildfire all over Facebook and Twitter. In the last few days, pictures of a well-known politician here in Ghana, enjoying a box of Kalyppo has been circulating on social media. It caught my attention and upon inquiry, I was informed that initially political opponents sought to use this image as a troll but those sympathetic to the cause of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and admirers of Nana Addo, flagbearer of the NPP saw an opportunity in there and birthed the #KalyppoChallenge.

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Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, Flagbearer of the NPP

This challenge saw those sympathetic to the NPP or Nana Addo share on social media, selfies (also called Kalfies) of themselves sipping on this “carbonated drink” as A-Plus calls it. Images came along with captions in support for Nana Addo or the NPP and hashtags like #DrinkItLikeNana #EnjoyItLikeNana

These apparatchiks or admirers in their posts on social media also encouraged individuals to patronise made in Ghana goods; a message which relates to and resonates with Nana Addo’s ‘I believe in Ghana’ slogan from 2012.

Soon enough, the challenge gathered momentum and its buzz was all about social media and some notable personalities were challenging others to pick up the Kalyppo challenge.

Below are some images culled from Facebook.

Even political opponents were challenged to pick up the #KalyppoChallenge. Below is a picture of popular Lawyer and a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC),  Edudzi Kudzo Tameklo, who was challenged by Kow Essuman of the NPP.

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Edudzi Kudzo Tameklo, Lawyer and Member of the NDC

From my one corner, I have gleaned a few lessons from this campaign and four (4) poignant takeaways are;

  1. You cannot discount the impact one brand (PERSONALITY) can have on another brand (ENTITY).
  1. Intentional and Unintentional Influencer endorsement can do a lot more for a company’s bottom line. An example is a book which sold out because Elon Musk mentioned that he was reading it.
  1. There is always an OPPORTUNITY in what might seem like a disadvantaged situation or crisis. Every cloud they say has a silver lining.
  1. If the campaign is locally relevant, is for a local good and/or offers local benefits, it will get the much needed (local) support.

As it stands now, what isn’t clear is who actually started the campaign and the timelines for it but Nana Addo’s random act and the conscious actions of his sympathisers seems to have won it for Aquafresh (manufacturers of Kalyppo). I can bet my last pesewa that they will see some change in their bottom-line.

On the other hand, can this action (campaign)  influence the political fortunes of Nana Addo this time around? Will it garner the much-needed numbers and support for him? That’s a question for the electorates to answer on December 7. I will be observing from my One Corner

For now, what are your thoughts on the #KalyppoChallenge? Let’s have a conversation in my one corner.

DHL Africa’s embarrassing Twitter fail and lessons to be learnt

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It is the morning after Ghana’s 59th Independence Day celebration. As expected, there were a lot of goodwill messages from Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians. Some section of the Ghanaian populace also didn’t disappoint. These lot, like they do every year, moped and complained about all that we could have been but are not.

Gosh! Are we not tired of these crybabies? We may all not like the pace of our development and the Ghana we see today but we could all be part of the reason future generations love the Ghana of tomorrow. Let’s just walk the talk. Having said this, let me hasten to add that these same Ghanaians believe they can say and paint a picture of all the bad things about Ghana but if you are an “outsider” and dare try to do same, you will not be spared.

This is probably what DHL Africa never took into consideration before putting out a tweet, which stirred the hornets’ nest. I have always maintained that social media is a dangerous sea to chart, even for the most skilled of sailors (in this case users). One irresponsible post or tweet or a message not thoroughly thought through can have a detrimental effect on one’s brand or identity.

Over the years, we have come to realise that even the largest and most influential brands with expert social media teams still make catastrophic mistakes on social media. The result can range from a mildly embarrassing, to an offensive and hateful response that causes long-term harm to a brand’s identity.

The Tweet

DHL Africa in its effort to join the chorus of individuals and companies celebrating Ghana’s 59th Independence anniversary, tweeted a picture of British Accra, also known as James Town with the accompanying message, “Today, #Ghana celebrates its independence. Here is a photo of the beautiful streets of Ghana! #AfricaAsOne”.

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The Fail

In my opinion, the message was apt but the accompanying image was what incensed a lot of people (myself included), in what they believed was a subliminal effort by DHL Africa to paint Ghana as a “society where nothing is happening” by highlighting on an image that portrays a colonial vestige. Even if that’s the truth, most organisations would want to stay clear off communicating that openly or unconsciously. Sadly, that’s the message their tweet seemed to have communicated.

Even though DHL Africa quickly rendered an apology after some influential tweeps had registered their displeasure about the image and pulled down the tweet but it was too late; as it had already incurred the ire of tweeps, who screen-grabbed it and retweeted it as part of their response to them.

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To counter this, some Ghanaian tweeps took to the platform to tweet pictures of parts of Ghana they could have highlighted other than what many will refer as a colonial vestige.

In an era, where many young Africans believe some media outlets have not been fair in the way they project the new Africa, you don’t want to be seen as using your brand to fuel that; especially if your brand operates on the continent. What most tweeps could not understand is why the company decided to use that particular image out of all the images of Ghana they could have used.

Below are some of the responses from Tweeps

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Lessons to be learnt

1.    Convey a genuine message

Despite DHL Africa’s good intentions to congratulate the good people of Ghana, their message did not resonate well with a particular audience, specifically Ghanaian. They believed that the company did not do justice to the accompanying photo, which was not a true reflection of the beautiful streets of Ghana after 59 years of independence. Thus most considered the company as being mischievous with its message to the good people of Ghana.

Lesson: In seeking to convey messages on social media, individuals, companies and organisations must convey a genuine message – one which will not draw the ire of their audiences. Images must correspond to text and the message must be a true reflection of what is on the ground.

2.    Do your research

Was that the streets of Ghana after 59 years? Yes. One can argue that it is a part of the colonial past of Ghana but that picture is not the sum total of the streets of Ghana.

Personally, I believe that either the person who posted the image is not resident in Ghana or did not do enough research about the country before tweeting. The last thing any brand would want to be seen as doing is unconsciously but covertly trying to wreck another brand. Sadly, that was the feedback a lot of tweeps got from the accompanying image.

I believe that as a company which has enjoyed a long and good business climate and environment in the country, there are other aspects of the country they know better, which could have been highlighted.

In my opinion, seeking the input and requesting for a picture from the Ghana DHL office. It could have been one of the options they could have explored.

Lesson: A proper research is always key towards framing the right message for your communication efforts.

3.    Render an apology

SORRY, they say is the hardest word but when your brand’s success or failure is determined by stakeholders who wield so much influence in an age of technology and social media, you have to swallow every trace of your pride.

Upon realising that their tweet had caused a lot of disaffection among some section of Ghanaians, what DHL Africa sought to do was to apologise for the “gaffe” by indicating that,  “We deeply apologise for our tweet not portraying Ghana in a more positive light. Happy Independence Day #DLHCares”.

To be on the side of caution, they decided, this time, around to use the Ghanaian flag as the accompanying image.

Lesson: Render an apology when it matters. A heartfelt apology can go a long way in earning back trust that you may have lost according to Mary Jo Jacobi, Former Presidential Advisor and Communications Strategist.

What do you make of DHL Africa’s tweet? Do you think Tweeps overreacted? Let’s have a conversation in my one corner.

2 reasons why I love Tigo’s Yenso Nkoaa promo and TVC.

It has been months since Tigo launched and ended the “Yenso Nkoaa” promo. Like the young boy shouting “time aso oooo!”, i believe the time is right for me to share thoughts I harboured about this promo on my blog.

Below are two reasons why i like this promo and its TV commercial. Enjoy!

  1. The company (Tigo Ghana) is responding to a social problem, while equally using their brand to sensitize Ghanaians on the need to conserve power (I know some who don’t agree with the calls to conserve power because it makes no sense to conserve power in our dumsor situation).  Thus even though they are meeting subscribers halfway through this promo, they are also telling us not to lose sight of the fact that we have to conserve the little power we have in such trying times.As Robert Philips in “Trust me, PR is dead” notes, Social is the new normal not just because of social media or social business but social impact, social enterprise and social value. 

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  1. They employ the element of storytelling interspersed with a hint of humour.The storyline/scenes employed in the advert is one everybody who is experiencing the dumsor in Ghana can relate to. From, the boy shouting ‘Time aso ooooo’ (Time is up), the barber working hard to beat the time, the guy who gets into a “flash-like” mode just to finish his ironing, the lady by the roadside who has to give directions ASAP upon realising her phone is low on battery, to the couple who can’t wait another day to finish the movie so they speed it up, one realises that these scenes are scenes every one of us has in one way or the other experiences during this period of dumsor.My favourite part is when the barber calls on Auntie Mercy to help him out.  Did you see the look on his face? That part cracks me up.

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While critically analyzing the TV Commercial (TVC ) for this promo, the interesting thing is that you see each of the prizes they are giving out connects with the scenes mentioned above. These prizes are:

– 90 generators

– 12 power invertors

– 1260 rechargeable lamps.

– 450 power banks.

Can you see the connection? If you can, good work. If you can’t, we can chat over them later on.

Hence, it can be realised that they have been able to do  a very good environmental scanning and segmented the power needs out there for those they are targeting with this promotion.

Overall, there seems to be nothing about this promo or the TVC that one can term a fault. The company once again does a good work with the whole promo concept, in addition, the advert which is used to sustain interest in this 90-day promo.

Personally, I can only agree with Jensen, L (2001), who will say this is an Economic, Legal, and Socially Responsible Company.

Do you have any thoughts on this promo? Let’s have a conversation.