Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kagame Offers Spaghetti, Critics Want Pizza

Adam Singer, who works at Lewis PR, wrote this week:
"What good P.R. teams do not do is lie to build attendance. Lying to media makes it that much harder for legitimate P.R. teams to achieve their goals. Build trust, not facades." 
Josh Trevino was involved in a blogging campaign for the ruling Malaysian party. The strategy was to feed the stories back to local media. Kigali has a different approach.

I explained last year in the blogpost "why we need Kagame" how a new genre of Africa bloggers has emerged thanks in part to the polarizing politician Paul Kagame. The PR strategy paper by Race Group for Rwanda reveals that allready in 2009 this rising tide of bloggers focused on the great lakes region was a major concern. And this concern is reflected in tweets by supporters of the regime.

Joseph Lake  @realclearafrica on twitter september 8th:
"South Africa, Mauritius & Rwanda are the most productive African economies. Geography stops Rwanda from benefiting more  "
Tony Blair  @tonyblairoffice on twitter september 5th:
"RT makes gains in all-inclusive education via "
Joseph Lake claimed in june:
"@realclearafrica tweets: @viewfromthecave Ah, very good. There is a lot of misreporting on Rwanda and that article jumps to a false conclusion citing unnamed sources"
"@realclearafrica it is difficult to write well about #Rwanda since '94 but Gourevitch succeeds.
His latest on Rwanda's cycling team
All four tweets fit the objectives set out in the $50.000 public relations strategy set out by the PR agency Race Point in 2009 for the Rwandan regime, which states:
"Effective execution of the campaign will help to ensure that Rwanda can:
  • Advance its standing with key political elites in global capitals in order to support the country's policy agenda;
  • Elevate its agenda with key investors in order to continue to attract the capital and businesses necessary to further develop the country's burgeoining economy
  • Negate the misinformation being pedaled by expats, NGOs and others with a vested interest in creating an image of Rwanda as a failed state; and
  • Create a sense of pride and progress with Rwandan citizens by illustrating to them the positive image the government is helping to create outside the country."
The PR strategy paper also writes that:
 "of further concern is: 
  • Expats living in Europe who favored the previous government are effectively using the web as a means to undercut perceptions of progress in Rwanda; and
  • Certain NGO's, such as Human Rights Watch, continue to advance a story of an unstable Rwanda as a means of continuing to attract donors and wield influence in the regione."
This "further concern" and the tweet by Joseph Lake on supposed "misreporting" leave out the underlying problems that fuel the incremental rise of criticism both off- and online. The Rwanda debate on- and offline is like walking into a restaurant asking for pizza, getting completely ingnored by the waiter, who then starts a long monologue on the wonderfull spaghetti that's on the meny.

None of Kagame's critics doubt he can make great spaghetti, however we ordered pizza.

In the meantime an inspiring video for public relations officials that are working on a brand strategy for some African government.

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