media update’s Nakedi Phala discusses how the role of a PR campaign could help polish the image of Africa in a way that depicts to the rest of the world what the continent truly is. Let’s face it: Africa is so much more than what it is made out to be.

Africa, for the most part, is assumed to be a continent that lacks development. It is perceived to be a place where humans live in one ecosystem alongside the wild animals (weird, right?) Nevertheless, the stereotypes and generalisations that this continent faces are endless.

Therefore, let’s stop doing things according to ‘African time’.

Here’s what PR campaigns can do for the continent:

1. A campaign will push for pure African content

Africa needs to divert its efforts of looking to produce content like that of third-world countries. There’s no uniqueness there. Rather, it should look at creating content that is originally African. And it can do this through creating local PR campaigns.

It’s through content that PR agencies can educate those who think Africa is a country. This can be done via agencies that focus on different countries within the continent, showing how these places make up Africa as a whole. Alternatively, the campaigns can share the stories of separate African countries that expose the unique features of each place and its varying cultures.

Film and ad agencies can also fill the gap and create ads and short films about African stories; these will be appreciated for their uniqueness and origin.

Here are some African productions that are helping Africa tell its story:

A film by Kagiso Midupe looks at a father who is looking to be a part of his daughter’s life. The father has separated from his wife and the tale depicts his struggle with the South African law regarding his rights to see his daughter. The film suggests that South African law accommodates the wealthy most.

In the ad by Coca Cola, the stereotype that Africa is a ‘crazed’ continent comes into play. The twist is that Africans in this ad are shown owning the myths and enjoying Africa as it is.

The power of content can reach a vast audience by educating, creating and breaking our own stereotypes and generalisations. African creatives and producers can use this approach through showbiz campaigns to reveal the true Africa to the rest of the world.

2. Campaigns will assist Africa in encouraging local consumption

Imagine how wealthy Africa could be if all of its natural resources were mined, produced and exported at a higher price, rather than just exported as raw materials.

Did you know that Africa is rich in natural resources, holding close to 30% of the world’s known popular minerals such as uranium, diamonds, textiles, gold and oil?

In this regard, PR campaigns can foster the government and business practitioners to see Africa as a place of investment; this will help change the scope of ‘selling Africa’ to ‘selling out of Africa’.

According to a PwC report, Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry has been dubbed the “fastest growing” in consumer consumption. This shows that Africans are starting to enjoy their own craft. The report further states that the entertainment and media consumption in this country is also growing.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, there’s been an interest in locally produced goods, fostered by Proudly South African a government agency. This has been done through it’s PR campaigns and funding structures that help South African locals sell their brands.

Here is one of the country’s ads that are helping locals see value in South African produce:

The notion that international brands are better than local can change over time, as seen in this ad. This is because South Africa also produces goods on the same level of quality.

3.You can’t solve African problems with international solutions

PR in governments, as well as in independent agencies, need to consider tackling public affairs and events by applying African solutions. This is because using what works in developed countries doesn’t mean it will work in Africa.

It all lies in how PR firms sell themselves to clients — their objectives and values need to share an aligned sentiment with Africans brands and individuals. For PR agencies, this can be included as part of their service offering, which includes creating strategies that are tailored to fit the continent’s communication landscape.

South African president Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

This quote carries a significant message as to why creating strategies and messages that resonate with Africans through African ways and languages go beyond just good PR — it connects with the audiences at large.

4. PR pros will learn to invest in local media

In some of the continent’s countries, such as Zimbabwe, media practitioners are not practicing as they should; the result of this is that news can be distorted and manipulated — even censored. This is just like what happened with aparatheid South Africa.

PR agencies have the power to create change for Africa’s media houses. They can run campaigns that could assist news outlets suffering at the hands of state power by creating worldwide awareness or by attracting donations.

These campaigns could help protect journalists. For example, if a journalist faces arrest for exposing the government, the donation funds can be used to hire a lawyer to assist the jailed journalist to fast-track their bail hearing and help them back into the reporting field again.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in Africa, including changing the way the world views the continent, as well as how its residents view themselves.

With the work of PR campaigns, it is not impossible. It all begins with one campaign of one African helping another; the practice of Ubuntu. This can make the world see the real Africa.

Do you think PR has the power to shift the mindsets of developed countries to see Africa differently? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

We see you’ve enjoyed our content right until the end. To get more insightful stories, sign up for our newsletter.

Those who’ve adapted well up until this point might be wondering: Where to from here? Find out Where the future of public relations is headed in 2021.