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African PR Industry emerges from pandemic in position of strength

The majority (67%) of African PR professionals believe the reputation of PR in business and society has improved since the beginning of the pandemic, according to PRCA Africa’s inaugural research.
The State of the African PR Industry Report – conducted by Reputation Matters – examined the perception of PR, attitude towards ethics, developing talent, and the challenges and opportunities facing the industry in the future.
The study, which surveyed more than 550 practitioners from 27 countries across Africa, paints a picture of a vibrant, growing industry that has emerged in a position of strength despite the disruption from the past two years. In fact, 33% of respondents said their strategic counsel is valued more than ever by business leaders, and a further 27% said they feel valued at board-level.
However, the pandemic has created significant challenges for the African PR industry, with 36% of respondents having had their employment affected. And despite the growing overall optimism, 62% believed reduced budgets still posed the greatest threat to the PR industry’s future.
The importance of ethical, effective communications has never been more evident than today as the world grapples with disinformation across various media. Encouragingly, the majority of PR practitioners feel the profession is viewed as ethical. 13% of respondents said they had been asked to act unethically within the past 12 months.
Other Key Findings:
– The research revealed the scale of the challenge facing the industry’s attempts to adopt more rigorous measurement and evaluation methods to prove the power of its work. Troublingly, the universally discredited Metric Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) remains the most common form of measurement.
– Nearly half (47%) of PR professionals say that they will be back in the office full-time once COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted. Many will spend at least some of their time working from home, while a small number are still unsure.
– Poor measurement and evaluation, and reduced budgets, are the biggest concerns on threats to the PR industry in the immediate future. While recruitment and retention, and technology and innovation, are also substantial risks.
– Digital and social media is a clear leader in terms of increased importance during the past two years. It was closely followed by reputation management and crisis management, both of which have been particularly relevant during the pandemic.
Read PRCA International Director Melissa Cannon’s conversation with Samuel Bekele, Joint East Africa Chair and the CEO of consultancy Spotlight, and Soni Kayinamura, Joint East Africa Chair and the Founder and CEO of Clarity.
PRCA Africa Chair Jordan Rittenberry said:
“The pandemic’s impact has been felt differently in different parts of Africa, and elsewhere in the world, but what all geographies have in common is a heightened appreciation of the value of good communications.
“Whether through public health campaigns promoting COVID-19 safety measures, to reassuring crisis communications from companies facing unexpected incidents, those organisations able to effectively connect with key audiences and stakeholders have been more effective and resilient during the pandemic.
“Meanwhile, those without proper comms capacity have suffered. These trends are confirmed in this report, with the majority (67%) of African PR professionals feeling that the perception of PR has improved since the start of the pandemic. This, and 33% of respondents saying that business leaders are increasingly reliant on PR counsel, with another 27% feeling valued by their board, shows that the future is bright.”
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