#TokosaFoodFestival 6 Things You Missed

#TokosaFoodFestival 6 Things You Missed

Lets get it clear,  I don’t attend a lot of events. No weddings. No funerals. No Baptisms. No introductions. No engagements. I used to think it was a countercultural rebellion to my parents. I have come to understand it as never being any such fancy thing. I get bored easily.

Anyways, I end up attending this much talked about socialite thing called the Tokosa Food Festival. Third event happening in as many years. Having never been to one, I was obviously watching with “new eyes”. New eyes = the sense of wonder you have when you have just arrived from the village  into town; also described as the realization of how the other half lives; also commonly called “Maalo” in Ugandan speak

But if you didn’t make it to this Year’s Tokosa event this is what you missed, or didn’t. See the highlight reel here.

  1. THE FATHERS’ COOK OFF

Obviously I was going to start with this because I participated in it. There were 4 of us. I was hopelessly under qualified and over confident. Which is why I probably was ranked last by the judges! But to be fair, they asked us to cook a kid’s breakfast and I only learnt his halfway through the 20 minutes!

Now, I grew up in the village and kids there don’t have breakfast. They just eat a left over sweet potato and a melamine cup of water and the day begins. So I knew I was in hot soup. But I knew we (me and my ego) were well and truly cooked when the eponymous Gonahasa (the one who cooks, not the talker) showed up.

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Egg fried frankfurter sausage on a baguette with fresh tomatoes

20 minutes and all I could come up with was a starch heavy African child breakfast. But you should have seen me stunting! Banange! like I knew I had this in the bag. But as they say about history and victors.

2. ZUMBA DANCE WOMEN

The Zumba women who came close to the end of the event sent the crowd into a a near riot. of course Gerry Opoka who runs Beats and Steps studio was on hand to teach some moves on how all that food people had stuffed themselves with could be worked out of the system.

I don’t get Zumba but when you see those women gyrating, moving to a rhythm from deep inside you have to wonder. Is it these kind of things that give us the stereotype of a sexualized nation? I wonder because you can’t help but ask yourself, if she can do this on the dance floor what about on a 6×6 King size bed with things like school fees, saloon money, side dishes on the line? Either way, you have to see a video to know what it’s really like. Sometimes the movements are slow and almost sensual, the other times it feels like they are trying to relax an itch that cant be reached. So much fun to watch.

You just start losing weight just by watching people exercise that vigorously.

3. THE GAMES

Another highlight of the day’s activities were the games. The kids were so excited it was not even funny. they had sack racing, egg on spoon, obstacle games. There were even games for adults to play. No, not those games.

As usual, Brian Mulondo (he of the mob FOMO) shone through and tons and tons of kids walked away exhausted from a full day of food fun and music.

Although, I must say some parents looked like they brought their kids there to just stuff them with food!

4. THOSE GIRLS DOING “SWALLOW THE CHICKEN”

Of course you can’t have an event hosted by the lady queen Miss Deedan where she doesn’t play a diabolical dirty trick – purely for her own pleasure.

And that is how she tricked some respectable-looking but erstwhile hungry young ladies into trying to eat and finish a 20-piece bucket of KFC chicken. This is similar to trapping you to delicious hot food.

What you really missed was how the ladies were watching Maurice Kirya, King of Mwooyo as if he was “Kyakulya” which means he looked edible, like chicken.

5. ALL THOSE SHADES

There were just simply too many types, colours and styles of shades at this thing.

 

I know I will definitely come to the next Tokosa event. Even if it’s to just spend a day giving to charity which is what the event is about. Part of the proceeds went to Bless A Child foundation which is home for cancer children.

So until next time, stay cool and drink Lite!

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But why am I lying…. It was a festival right? See all these smiles going down!!

 

 

For more images, visit the Kafunda Kreative Tokosa Album or go check out the #Tokosa17 hashtag on Instagram.

Cheers!

LEAD! How Business Can Reinvent Itself for Today

LEAD! How Business Can Reinvent Itself for Today

From time to time Albert will walk in with a complex as hell question. It may be the way his mind works or just the extraordinary situations he finds himself in.

He asked, “So how can we work for a technology client and still struggle with Outlook? Why don’t they use the millions of apps for business available?”

By apps for business he meant Trello, Franz, Google apps, Slack, Dropbox and the plethora of other businesses built by the world’s most brilliant minds to help evolve the nature of business in our time and age.

Valid question with no valid answer. At the time, anyway. How could a technology business not be the most technologically adept business? It made no sense. Over the months,however, we’ve had the conversations for me to finally understand why, the uptake of new technology is not as swift as it is developed.

The People Who Run Businesses:

Big businesses are built by successive promotion of talent and so in most cases people in management are the most experienced people in the business. Why is this dangerous? Because these people rely on the tools that got them to where they are. They trust Outlook and distrust Thunderbird.

They don’t understand Skype, Slack, Trello or Jira, because the only way to get work done is by having meetings. They also don’t understand the millennial-preferred offsite working.

And so, these decisions and technologies don’t get bought into, they don’t get signed off as business solutions and they don’t get used. So business remains archaic and stagnant.

 

The Industry In Which Businesses Operate:

The industry is made up of thousands of people who only think that office wear must include a tie for gentlemen. That dreadlocks are for hooligans. That everyone must be bribed. Thus, these ideas become cast in stone. They become millstones around the whole industry’s neck.

This attitude permeating the industry makes it inflexible, sluggish and bloated. It takes more time to come to decisions, more consultation to arrive at options, and ever more options to satisfy a boardroom of decision makers. The world’s leading businesses are agile, lean and extremely fast. Decisions are taken, businesses either succeed or fail and they learn from it. And move on.

 

The Talent Pool In The Market:

Businesses must also be aware of the people in their employ; millennials! More collaborative, less rigid and more creative about how they approach their work than any generation ever born! Businesses and the industry must first and foremost serve these people’s needs; which although they seem erratic, aren’t. They are just processing more information than anyone ever has.

“Write a tweet, finish and send the report, respond to the girlfriend about the weekend, walk into a 5 minute huddle, bite into the sandwich, sip on a coffee, double tap Grace Nakimera’s Instagram album, make plans for this evening. And that’s all before 8:45am!”

 

Old Dogs and New Tricks:

How does a business that only used to plan for Easter, Independence Day, Christmas, NRM day, and Eid holidays now retrofit itself to handle #MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #FBF, #SundayTwitter, Black History Month, Breast Cancer moth, The Kabaka run, the MTN Marathon, Movember,  #Tweminists, Grammar Nazis and the plethora of landmines waiting for it online? How can it do those things unless it changes how it works?

 

The Thirst is Real For Results:

Results! Results! Results! Everyone wants them. Clients want to know how much engagement there was on that post. Who clicked on it, where were they from? Can we message them with something else? Where did they go after they left the website? Cookies, algorithms, ad blockers, native advertising. Everything we do is measurable and someone wants to use those measurements to make money. Old technology will not have these answers.

New thinking and new knowledge is necessary. Buzz words today include; big data, A.I., blockchain, integrated marketing, Bretail, remarketing, influencer marketing etc. All fancy words to mean no one knows how today’s audiences behave so we are throwing everything at them to see what sticks. However, the guys at Cambridge Analytica are doing fun things with data.

No matter what you use, we need new tools because the old ones aren’t going to get the job done

 

How do we resolve these incongruences?

 

Has the advertising agency model died? Must we rethink it? Can big retainers continue to exist in an age where all employees have 2 or three skills? Can the model built on trust of credit survive in the harsh pre-paid economies of Africa? Can we

 

We must be bold. Courage and boldness in action will trump speed or strength every day. The courage to question the old ways. To depart from the knowledge that got us here but will not take us into the next 5 years. Must forge new paths.

 

We must commit. Commit to our businesses. Commit to unlearning and relearning. Commit to understanding our target audiences and what is hurting them. Know that client businesses are hurting and they need solutions that help their bottomlines.

 

We must be agile. Agility gives your business edge. It separates you form the bloated pack. Cut the fat from your organization and make it flat! Flat and lean like a start-up because if you want start-up money you must have start up structure and work ethic.

Allow to be bad. In his 50th Law, Robert Greene speaks of the necessity of aggression and how at the right time aggression can bring distinction thereby delivering the blue ocean your business desperetaly needs.

 

Or don’t do any of these things and go down in glory as the internet is full of companies that did nothing wrong and still went down.

 

Feminism, the enemy within and the courage of a generation

Feminism, the enemy within and the courage of a generation

Feminist this, feminist that, femi -knee-st this, Femi-Nazi this, Tw-eminist that! Thats how a typical day starts and ends on my social media timeline. All sides, all genders and all creeds. The fight has become polarizing to the point that one cannot imagine it once was a joke because they will be called gender-shaming, misogynistic or patriarchal or worse. And the fights are happening even amongst the women too.

I have often wondered how the old feminists did it? How did they get through it? Or did they never get through? How can we fight for something for so long and have made such little gains on it? Therefore, I surmise that at the heart of this movement is a key piece that keeps acting as a saboteur to this whole mission.

Male patriarchy (which among hard core feminists is the heart of all darkness and dwelling place of Zerubbabel himself) has been described as men keeping women suppressed through cultural customs and norms to deliberately create inequality and oppression. In more cultural settings you see mention of breast ironing, female genital mutilation and labia elongation. These crude customs of yester-year have been parked at the doorstep of all men to bear full responsibility for. But, one quickly learns that men alone – even if they wanted to whole heartedly – cannot repeal these customs.

For example, breast ironing was started to flatten breasts of girls entering puberty so they wouldn’t be preyed upon by older men – by their mothers. This was so they could still be virgins when they were married off in a society that valued virginity but that would not punish men for defiling small girls and would rather punish them that speak truth to power.

In the case of labia elongation, the working theory it is that the practice is meant to make women “sweeter” for men because the labia gives extra sensation during sex. Cases where husbands return brides so their mothers so show them the “the bush” are not unheard of. “The bush” is the euphemistic term for girls entering puberty when they begin the labia elongation practice. This practice is enforced strongly by maternal aunties and mothers in order not to bring shame upon the family once marriage time comes.

The more gruesome FGM varies across different tribes but basically involves the carving out of part of or all of a girl’s labia and clitoris. This was ostensibly to prevent girls (who undergo this process on the cusp of puberty) from being errant wives. Its brutally enforced by societal structures and a ruthless shaming system

When I was in the Sebei region on the last #KoiKoiEast trip a few weeks ago, we sat around a fire and a man told us of a culture that praises courage and bravery. He said if your mother ever flinched at her circumcision (which they are working with government to eliminate for girls now by the way) everyone who disagrees with you would always refer to you as the “The one whose mother ran away” and these tags are hard to escape. Like millstones around one’s neck beckoning shame and derision from society. They stay. They hurt. They cut deep.

In all these cases, mothers, aunties and female figures in society play a central role in enforcement and adherence to these norms.

And that is where I get confused.

If we are fighting the men in our generation, are we not self-sabotaging? If a young man within your generation (those of you date cross generationally can stop skip ahead) says to you “I think my wife should wash my boxers” and you stand up bash him or a young woman your age says “I want a man to marry me, provide for me and in return I will raise his children and build our home” and they get railroaded out of town. You aren’t solving the problem. That’s their paradigm. That’s the construct in which they see their world.

But who framed that world? Who told them that these things were acceptable? That women should give up careers and sit at home and that they can’t be everything they ever should? It’s not the boy child who grew up alongside them chasing butterflies and eating mangoes.

And that’s why we must have the courage…

The courage to confront our parents about the things they haven’t done right by us in terms of educating us (not school fees, fool!). The absence of fear when taking down with belief systems, constructs, practices that contradict what we know to be logical truths must be palpable.

And that is both for everyone

Why?

Because only by facing our parents (the entire generation) who are bastions of sanctity and are revered can we truly begin to make a difference. We can’t be in a society where you were born in a polygamous family, you have never discussed that with your parents but you are out here calling all men trash. Or you are the child of a concubine, but you go around spreading misogynistic vitriol. You are only playing yourself child.

That’s why it takes courage…

It going to take courage for us to tell our parents that we are gay. That our friends are gay. That we work with gay people. That we share food with them. That we know them. That some of them struggle with it. That we work for them. That they have funny jokes. That they are people. Someone’s son and daughter. That others will never overcome their fear. And that others will never come out because they don’t have the courage.

It’s going to take courage to tell parents that forcing their children to live at home until they get married means they won’t understand the responsibility of living on their own, making decisions, independence, planning, adulthood, looking after their partners. It produces poor husbands and wives. Young people are facing these things in their marriages and their relationships. We need to talk about it.

It’s going to take courage for us to ask our parents who work in government to stop blaming everyone else and ask them what they did to stop the country from going to shit. What did they ever do to keep things on course? To reason with them when they say “we did it for you” and not be relenting in our quest to understand what our own role will be for our children.

It’s going to take courage to have conversations about having sex for favours. For jobs. For cars. For houses. For food. For gadgets. With men and with women. When our mothers did this for security, society respected them as kept women – church or no church; ring or no ring. But the men are different now and everyone fights for theirs. The conversations on men sleeping with women for money, access, property and rent? And men sleeping with other men to take care of their wives? How much courage will that take?

It’s going to take courage to bring up and challenge the tribalism, myopia and archaic attitudes parents get stuck in. Things like “we don’t marry those people” or “You would rather not marry” or “If you marry her I will not attend” must stop being heard as threats to people trying to form unions that are propagating the future. They must be taken down with boldness and furor.

It’s going to take courage to tell our parents that getting married and all the previously accepted forms of social validations will not be our portion. That some women do not want a husband or kids or to settle down. That some want to adopt children instead of having their own. That some men will just not be husbands. Those conversations take courage because they require us facing constructs we have known for a long time. But we must find it.

It is my hope that our generation finds the courage to face our parents and confront their demons because only then can we face our peers in honesty and good spirit. Only then can we stand and share with each other the sweat and tears it will take to rebuild this country after these old people are done phucking it up.

Or we could just give up and emigrate to another country and let it be someone else’ problem? The Chinese are coming here, expatriates come here and never want to leave, multinationals are coming over, oil companies are setting up. They already messed up their homes. If we leave, there’ll be no one to fight for this ugly red-dust pearl of Africa.

So, we stand and fight. As a generation. Men. Women. Gay. Straight. Religious. Atheist. African. Mixed. Light skin. Dark skin. Thicke. Small. Chubby.

Together.

But first, how to find that courage… to

 

What’s the power in a good introduction?

What’s the power in a good introduction?

Recently, at a gathering of friends and potentially new friends over a sumptuous 3 course dinner at the Kampala Serena, I caught myself asking to let Raymond Mujuni allow me to introduce him. It wasn’t an unusual thing. I have introduced him before and I love introducing him because every time you do that there is something new about him. The thrill and excitement is palpable.

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Cocktails, fine dinning, and lavish conversation at the Kampala Serena Hotel

As the evening wore on, the conversation swung around to introductions I have done. I have a bit of a penchant for intros. I love doing them. For strangers. For friends. For adversaries. For family. They are so cool because you get to pick exactly what people will remember about this person the first time they meet them. It’s the first time and if you do it right, it will be the only time they will ever need. At least that’s what I have believed.

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Raymond is the last one in the red sweater at the end of the table.

But my mind careened back to introduction I did two weeks ago, on a #KoiKoiEast trip far away in Kapchorwa, on the slopes of the rift valley, in the heartland of our county’s fastest runners. There I was running my mouth as We introduced the team. The #KoiKoiUG trips are thrilling because they bring new people out of their shells and allow them to experience Uganda’s beauty, culture and food.

One of the common trip practices is to do introductions, so everyone knows everyone. Sometimes they let me introduce people. It can be hilarious but mostly its revealing. Later, one of our sponsors who was there asked me “Why are great introductions important?” In answering I had this on my mind

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The #KoiKoiEast trip participants right after introductions.

I feel that people struggle so much in life. No matter how amazing a guy is, he is always behind what the world, society and they themselves expect of their abilities.

If you are a boy genius at 25 there is a guy who is saying you will win a Nobel prize by 30. If you graduate at 22, some aunt is mouthing about how you will have a husband by 24 and twins by 25.

But look around you, no one is doing those things. Guys been in the same job/ position for 6 years. Girls who worked hard and got their masters out here looking at adopting children. Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone isn’t at full potential.

That’s why a good introduction is important; to remind them of what they are. Of all the good they can do. To show them how the world and we see them. To sell them to themselves one more time. Because sometimes you think you are one thing but then you are many things, to many people.

A great introduction gets someone a foot in the door. It’s a chance for people to meet them for the first time. To not let them be judged by their dressing, to remove prejudice, to eliminate doubt about who they are and to establish them as the most (insert anything) person there is. It takes away the burden of working prove one self.

Finally, knowing Uganda and their propensity to welch, a good introduction acts to forestall the initial instinct by creating a guilt trigger.

And so in closing, if you ever get a chance do a friend a solid and roll out the red carpet for them.

 

Why are clients afraid of great work?

Why are clients afraid of great work?

My annual chats with Emuron Alemu follow a pattern. Work is hard; *whiskey*, life is exciting, *whiskey*, advertising is a calling, *whiskey*, Africans are *whiskey* hilarious, we need to *whiskey* work hard, *whiskey* we *whiskey* have *whiskey*to *whiskey* change *whiskey* the *whiskey* world. *whiskey* *whiskey*

Starting out in Uganda and now at WPP, he is the fastest rising creative I know. Saving brands, taking names and kicking ass. We talked about the industry across the continent and about opportunities for young creatives (a common idea is that the industry is dominated by old, geriatric farts whose time is long past but more on this later), then he said something intriguing.

He said rather casually “I was talking to someone at work recently and he said to me across the world clients are now afraid of great work.”

I saw my life flash before me. My chest constricted. My breath caught. I was perplexed. Creatives give life and limb, blood and tears to do great work. They sacrifice family, relations, friends, parties, and more to commit to this craze. How possible is it then that across the industry people were saying that clients were slowly moving away from great work?

What was happening?

This is how he explained it to my addled mind. Great work won awards. It won pitches. Looked good in portfolios. It might even save a tanking brand – for a while. Above all it created expectations.

Expectations are always rising. insatiable. innumerable. Inexplicable. Unseen often unspoken even. They make clients say things like “But last month you did this campaign in 1 week how come you now say you need 3 weeks?” Expectations are dangerous.

Great work also never starts out as great work. Often it will be an idea and not much more. It will require someone to believe in it (insert client) and to pay for it. Why? Because great work has a 50-50 chance of bombing. It can either be very good or very bad. The risk, the edginess is what transcends it. And often, with jobs in the balance, clients will simply not go “all-in” on an idea. They require some certainty.

The biggest reality to hit great work has been the evolution of client roles. In the past most corporate structures separated marketing and sales roles; ostensibly making marketers “spenders” and sales people “earners”.

Businesses are now merging these roles making marketers have targets – real hard cold targets. Don’t get me wrong, they still have to achieve emotional warmth, brand affinity, and emotional equity but they also have ROI, market share and conversion conversations.

The latter conversations are quite difficult to have because they involve justifications to the business and also influence future budget allocations. How will this great TV commercial turn customers to my product and keep them there? The truth is great work does this. It answers the brief and saves the brand – for a while.

Then brands go back and do the same shitty things. Disrespect customers. Abuse employees. Lie to stakeholders. Break every promise they make. So naturally the “great” work done by said campaign is eroded in customers’ minds. Then it is all downhill again. Until the next great campaign. Leaving the business graph looking like the heart monitor reading of a tachycardia – erratic with little chance of normalization.

Those difficult conversations mentioned above have defined the job to be done – deliver results. Clients want work that works. Work that delivers. That doesn’t solve only today’s problem but that will be built on tomorrow, next month and next year. Strategic work.

Work that works.

Good work. That’s what it is. Good, effective, grounded, researched, insightful, problem-solving, long shelf life, and targeted work. That’s what clients need today. Work that helps them keep their jobs so they can keep paying for school fees, mortgages, rent, car loans, bar bills, new phones and CIM.

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Clients are also people. They have dreams, aspirations. and responsibilities. 

That doesn’t mean you can do crap work. No. It means if your work isn’t solving a problem, it doesn’t matter if Zeus himself touched you with a lightning bolt, it’ll be crap. It means that if your work improves your client’s bottom-line, you improve their chance of getting a promotion, advancing their career and ultimately growing their brand.

Good work is also replicable; month after month, year after year and is not unattainable. That means you can six good campaigns a year and not only the great one. This naturally lays emphasis on solid strategy and good old hard work and crafting. Where it all starts.

21st Century Social Media Influencer: Smell The Impostors

21st Century Social Media Influencer: Smell The Impostors

Social media influencers are not gods. In fact you have more of them walking around than fake pastors on these hilly Kampala streets.  As brand custodians and marketing executives have started to encounter the social media bug, so has the propensity of encountering a less than real proposition. Championed by the“The world is going social!” war cry, its easy for one to get caught is the frenzy.  Hailed by some, hated by others, they are the keys to “unlocking” social media. They can either make you trend or flop your trend.

In Uganda, the journalist community even has a list of people called the “Twitter Mafia” (a list of people who if they aren’t on your hashtag, it won’t trend and you won’t achieve success. The danger with this is assuming trending is the objective. As the discussion has evolved over the years about whether numbers of followers matter or whether likes and re-tweets matter, the more discerning marketing public has started to ask “What do likes really mean?” “What does trending add to my sales targets?” And mostly “Do I need an influencer to do this work?” There are many answers to each of these questions but this post will address the last one. Do influencers really make a difference? And how do you tell the ones who can?

  1. Influencers Are People, Not Gods: like the rest of us. One day they had 100 followers like you. They didn’t always have 100k tweets or 5k iG followers. They grew their audiences by consistently putting out content people who followed them respected, wanted or enjoyed. They aren’t untouchable and they certainly aren’t infallible. What they do have is influence, that means they bring audiences to conversations; large audiences. Knowing how to leverage those audiences  for results is part of the influencer benefits package. Don’t trust influencers who cannot tell you what they can get their audiences to do.
  2. It is a Science & An Art: It is true there a few tools to measure and a few others for strategy or listening. There is a perfect time to reach the highest audience numbers on your channels and the optimum number of words to put in you Face Book or IG post. All of that is measurable, trackable and fits within a formula.  This is the science part. However there is also a creative part of this business. The one that requires original, authentic, engaging and memorable content. The one that hooks followers. The greats constantly walk this knife edge. You must be able to demand this of your influencers. Ask them what tools they use, platforms, and gadgets. You must be willing to  look under the hood.
  3. Everyone Learnt It “On The Fly”: You’ll often get told that there isn’t a school for digital studies and so everyone learnt their craft “on the fly“. This is bullshit. There are certifiable programs set up by social media platforms that teach, train and evaluate “power users”– people who want to make the most out of the platform or channel. If your influencer or your digital partners cannot provide proof that at least one person in their agency has gone through these free training programs then you’ve been sinking money down a hole. Twitter Flight School, Facebook BluePrint, Google Partners all teach how to use and optimize the respective platforms for maximum value. And you get certified once you pass.
  4. Creative Remuneration: As numbers of audiences and followers rise, the rates for influencing will go higher and higher until it just won’t make sense anymore. The truth is that influencers while there should be some form of pecuniary remuneration aren’t exactly influencers because of their “search for money”. They are already in love with the product or service which is why when they speak, audiences listen. They are authentic in what they see and how they articulate the cool things about products. Brands need to find ways of rewarding their influencers in product and not as one offs but consistently so the conversation is also consistent. As an example I always asked myself as to why when Bossini invited celebrities to their Acacia Mall store launch instead of paying them they didn’t announce a year’s shopping worth xxx amount. What a way to create envy. Or the more garden variety influencers who influence for telecoms but are always asking for airtime handouts. That stuff just doesn’t look cool.
  5. You Cant Influence Everyone: Unless you are the Obamas (who make anything from going to college or working out or buzz feed look cool) no one can influence all the people all the time. So brands need to stop being the George Bush of influence mongering. The same people on every hashtag, at every event, on every guest list, every damn account. It makes you look tired and rancid. Find some new faces, fresh content, some authorities. People who aren’t regurgitating some press briefer your PR agency hashed up at 6:30 am because  they’ve been neglecting the job for 3 weeks. People who care about you brand genuinely.
  6. Authority Matters: Topical experts bring authority and credence to any topic. Sometimes this means you will have to even set up these experts on social media or find those who are on. In my biggest career crisis management we were handling the closure of an airline but we were fortunate to find that some influencers and “friends” of the airline were already online. Seasoned, tested and authoritative aviation aficionados who brought clarity to a lot of online conversations. Find some authority for your brand.
  7. Influencers Sometimes Come in Overalls: Not all influencers will come in Windsor-knotted ties and pin stripped Saville row suits. Sometimes, they come in blue overalls because they know the dirt and grease and that’s what your audience needs to know about. They bring real world experience that your air-conditioned-coffee-machine-with-tea-biscuit offices will never have. An example that comes to mind of Shell and its white lab techs from a few years ago and their choice to use real world mechanics who know exactly how much longer good oil takes your car. That’s influence because real influence knows what it talking about.
  8. Conversion Conversations: Re tweets and trending while they are evidently very good signs of content that connects with audiences still don’t pay the bills. Conversions pay the bills. So we must start linking activity to some sort of measurable conversion. Trending a whole month as a beverage brand and yet your beer beverage is still struggling in sales indicates problematic planning. Measure-ability also puts people on alert that they can’t just eat your “influencer biscuits at and tea” at events and not pay for them.
  9. Hygiene: Account hygiene = Body hygiene. Ensure that you infleuncer’s account hygiene is good. Account hygiene is ensuring links work, pictures are captioned properly and names and handles are accurate. Why? Because its the small things that trip us up that shouldn’t. Create a monthly brand hygiene check. As an influencer you also need to create a process that allows you clean up your Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Log out of accounts that you aren’t managing anymore, delete accounts of events that won’t be happening again. This process allows you to focus on current clients and their tasks. Keeps you sharp. An example is that  “Good morning… “ tweet that went out a few months ago from 12 accounts. #UOT were aghast. But that is life.
  10. Pay Peanuts Get Monkeys: Like any profession you get what you pay for with influencers. You are better off with a few happy influencers at their asking price rates than cramming 10 or so of them at dirt cheap prices because then everyone is giving you shoddy work which overall looks like one big pile of sh*t. When budgets don’t allow, go with less quantity and don’t EVER compromise on quality. Ever.

…Or don’t listen to any of this advice continue letting your IT guy do your social media after all computers are all the same in the end. And you wonder why your career is mediocre.

Talk soon…

 

8 Tips for the Makerere University PRO at this Time

8 Tips for the Makerere University PRO at this Time

 

Public Relations is all about catching the right moment, the right smile, the right break. With all the things happening at Makerere University now is the right time for that P.R.O. to shine, or not. For those reading this without context; earlier this week Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a PhD scholar and notorious social media activist undressed herself in protest and ire at her boss Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, the Executive Director of MISR (Makerere Institute for Social research). I awoke to social media posts of Stella’s breasts and nakedness and epithets in a video (video here) Whatever the context of that story is, is still unfolding but I’d like to focus on the handling of this issue. How could it have been done better? Who should have spoken by now, 72 hours after the crisis broke that hasn’t spoken? What other opportunities are being lost every day this story is in the headlines? As P.R.O. has sleepless nights these are the top 8 things to consider when in crisis:

  1. Seize The Golden Hour: Stories have a golden hour when, if attacked properly they can even be still born. The first hour of any crisis presents an opportunity to negotiate, intimidate, bribe, cajole, or even create a diversion. Seize it, move swiftly and decisively. It helps if you have a crisis management plan (you have to have seen the importance of planning to have this) in place that you can lean back on. If not, consider this your biggest career lesson.
  2. Stop The Bleeding: The attrition that happens over a few hour news cycle is catastrophic. Justine Sacco, in 2013 sent an insensitive tweet and got on a plane by the time she landed she had lost her job and was an internet pariah. Unfortunately, in Uganda these kinds of shenanigans at Makerere aren’t uncommon. The fact that social media is involved however makes the battle instant and viral; attracting commentary and live coverage each minute. Issue a statement to counter the crisis, even if its to simply say, “We are responding to this…” The bleeding is considered to have started stopping when you get your name in the public conversation. when people start saying, “They responded”
  3. Appoint a Mascot: With their enemies at their gates the Romans would give up their democratic rights to one man – a general who led them to war. He had absolute control. The mascot should have all information. They are the designated spokesperson, and source of information coming out of the university. A singular, authoritative, clear focal point. Arm them with information, update them regularly, discuss the full situation with them, and go through talking points and possible questions. This not only manages misinformation, it would allow the university to speak as one unit. And everyone is either with them or against them. There is no space for equivocation in war. And this is war.
  4. Keep Record of Who is Saying What: In the heat of battle, people will mouth off things. Things like they were under “duress”. Record them. Know who said what when. Review this material daily to catch inconsistencies, to open holes in their stories and build character discrediting evidence. When you’re in the court of public opinion, creating situations where your opponent’s character is questioned can turn the tide in your favour. Records also help your learn as a professional and as an institution. They become case studies.
  5. Bring Your Heavy Hitters: As an institution, there are certain assets that you have, secret weapons, people in your corner who can and should be leveraged to speak in your favour. There are relationships you have by virtue of your size. If you spend up to UGX100M a year in advertising and media relationships with media houses it is incumbent upon you to leverage ALL those relationships to get fair news coverage. If there are websites that are popular among your students or run by university students e.g. campus bee and others reach out to them to get your story out there. Every click counts with the internet. Bully. Threaten. Grovel. Do what must be done but ensure you have your mascot before the cameras. Let the public see that yours isn’t a huge, faceless, brutal institution that has driven a woman to hopelessness. Humanize your brand. People always want to believe other people.
  6. Create Diversions: Diversions by their very nature are meant to take people away from the point. Some have argued in academic (purist non-practicing) circles that this style of PR is unethical, unscrupulous and portends an underhanded blow. But you work for a university where students get sexually transmitted degrees, you are underpaid and no one notices all your good PR when you do it, how are you supposed to remain ethical or above judgement? Divert to the good things like that sunshine powered bus, or the research happening elsewhere that is not in the area of conflict. Divert to the vibrant sugar daddy- supported economy around the university. It will give you time to breathe.
  7. Extirpate Conflicted Parties: Anyone who might be compromised by relation or by virtue of their closeness to the conflicting parties should be removed. This ensures people are not underhandedly undoing your work but also draws clear lines and that people must choose a side. In this case the fact that the University Vice Chancellor who is also Dr. Nyanzi’s uncle has not recused himself from this matter does not show that the university is placing itself in an objective space to deal with this matter. In the public’s eye, make sure your side has its ducks in a row and is above reproach You are simply responding to an unreasonable employee.
  8. Breathe: No matter how bad you think it is. It will pass. Don’t forget to breathe. Its not the end of the world. Yes, if Prof. Mamdani leaves, the university’s ranking will probably drop but Makerere is Makerere. Prof. Mamdani battled the legendary and lugubrious Dr. Nsibambi and has faced down many tough people. If he can’t face down a bare chested woman, then maybe he can’t. We should not expect too much of him. He is human. The university might also not be so lucky to raise that $7.2M he has raised in funding during his tenure. But its Makerere, it will survive.

In closing, whether the PRO is unequipped to handle conflict online and social media where the bulk of the deluge of messages is coming from or they are the “bury your head in the sand” kind of PR person they need to understand that adversity shapes us. They need to be present and be felt. It is those who are awake and present in times of war that can shape the outcome of events. And this is war…