Kenya embraces digital public relations

Digital public relations (PR) is slowly taking shape in Africa, but Kenya has been quick to embrace the introduction of new media.  For a long time, the focus of PR was on churning out press release after press release to traditional media.  But this trend is changing towards digital communication and means that we have to find more innovative ways of sharing information with the public. The fundamentals of public relations remain the same, but the channels used to tell a story are slowly diversifying.

Digital PR recognizes that readers are digesting information differently.  It engages target audiences directly without necessarily talking to journalists. Contrary to the popular view that digital PR makes use of social media, it actually goes beyond social media and uses other tools such as search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and websites to manage and build online brand reputation.

In fact, SEO has proven to be among the most effective tools in digital PR. This is done by creating compelling content in the form of press releases and blogs in which key search words have been strategically included.

A recent report released by Internet World Statistics shows that Kenya is ranked fourth in internet usage in Africa. Next in line are Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa respectively.

Online blogs, LinkedIn discussions as well as social media platforms are increasingly overtaking traditional media in reaching out to its target audience in Kenya. This is because online conversations have a longer time span. When you think of traditional media such as print, the information is only directly visible for 24 hours....

The change in the Kenyan media landscape and how audiences digest information has led to brands diversifying their communication strategies to appeal to a larger portion of online audiences.  It is all about changing the way we communicate our message – now we are in direct contact with our audience.

A recent movement in Kenya, #mydresssmychoice, captured global attention and showed just how powerful digital PR tools can be. The movement was formed on social media 12 hours after a group of men took offense to a woman’s dress code.

The conversation started on twitter as a hashtag and was picked up by other online media within 24 hours. Then fashion bloggers read about the story and interpreted it in a completely different way, sharing more insights on the same topic. LinkedIn Online discussions caused the story to become an issue of national concern.  Later the story was also picked up by traditional media, after the news had already reached millions of Kenyans. This shows how much impact the digital platform can have.

The use of digital PR is becoming the norm and owning this space is critical for the success of PR practitioners and brands.

Suzanne Buyole, Account Executive, H+K Strategies, Kenya. She works on the National Bank Twitter account in Ghana, from the Nairobi office. Suzanne has a special interest in digital PR and its impact in the Kenyan market.