In what seems to be a never-ending twist and turn of politically biased events, we present to you two “polar-opposing” political parties, both claiming to have the interest of the citizens of the Republic of Kenya at heart: At the helm of it all, are two flag bearers of whom millions of Kenyan shillings have been invested; in efforts to emerge victorious over the other during the ongoing Presidential elections.
As with several democratic countries, a bar was set and a dream sold through international news and to those with internet accessibility; a YES WE CAN – Barrack Obama type of dream. His Political Public Relations team, regardless of his shortcomings, played a salient part in actualizing the 1963, “I HAVE A DREAM” vision of hope by Dr. King. A vision uniting people of African descent. Former POTUS Barrack Obama was a symbol of America at its best.
The heavily funded 2017 Presidential campaigns therefore took to investing in both Public Relations and Marketing with aspirations of selling their stories ubiquitously across the Republic of Kenya in efforts to win the hearts of the millions of registered voters. They needed a strategy, one that would outwit the other; their PR and Marketing teams needed a plan therefore one was set.
Developing a Narrative:
Between the two aspiring politicians is a cumulative tale of historical facts and hear-say as both are sons of the founding fathers who fought for the independence of the Republic of Kenya. While Uhuru Kenyatta prides of an educational background in economics, government and political science, Eng. Raila Odinga is a former detainee human rights activists constantly fighting tirelessly for democracy and transparency in the governance of the people of Kenya. Although both leaders have experience in various government dockets, the former possesses an oration charisma that could sell any dreamer a mirage of their aspirations while the latter appeals to the myriad of oppressed individuals who are desperate for their quandary to be heard.
Social Media Management:
Both leaders are equipped with social media managers who are quick to share their day-to-day movement and successes with the aim of reaching their following and updating them on their hard work. Work that is seemingly relevant to their ploy to garner political preference over the other.
Kenya is not new to employing negative campaigns as a defense mechanism; a tool employed to amass voters. The irony of the matter is that between each election period, we see these politicians laughing, wining and dining together. No sooner do their policies and interest surface than they begin to paint each other as malevolent and deceitful. As with all competing politicians, they publicly air each other’s shortcomings, quick to forget their own.
County to county below the line marketing antiques are constantly drawn. Grass-root activations have been carried out in efforts to sway registered voters. Millions of shillings in small denominations have been given out as incentive to attract more crowds to political rallies and protests. Color coordinated billboards with airbrushed photos and “say-cheese” smiles have been rooted in heavy traffic areas; behind the scenes videos have been shared across various social media platforms showing how relatable and humane these politicians are. Road shows with branded vehicles and unnecessarily loud jingles. Lastly merchandise that the “common civilian” can take home in show of where their loyalty stands.
Direct Mail Marketing:
October 19th 2017 saw the jubilee party presidential aspirant take to addressing a letter to the Nation. A letter that would easily grab your curiosity. Its contents, relating to the fears and frustrations of the millions of Kenyans affected by the presidential election re-run. The truth is, the tangibility of direct mail marketing has a lasting impression in comparison to the internet; a virtual reality that easily forgets as soon a new trending topic arises. Through direct mail marketing, your readers feel valued and it sustains a relationship where doubt was lurking.
Though both parties get an A+ for pervasive tactics, PR teams from both camps seem to have forgotten to put into equation the new age “politically aware” civilian. This is the everyday Kenyan citizen without an in-depth knowledge of the law, the Kenyan who solely stands by the interpretation of google in order to understand the law of the Republic in accordance to the constitution, a gullible Kenyan who cannot differentiate false NEWS from the truth, a frustrated Kenyan who lacks a reliable directive to look to.
That the PR and Marketing representatives did not take time to give importance to pre-election civic education on constitutional matters regarding the law and voter ethics, gave room for doubt to be seeded into the minds of their voters. After the nullification of the August 8th presidential elections, emotions, accusations and fallacies started flaring left, right and center and once more, the gullible and frustrated Kenyans are seeking answers from all directives. This, we call a CRISIS. A crisis if well thought out would have been a perfect playground of all mannerisms of antics dubbed as Crisis Public Relations and Marketing. Instead, we were given the very same predictable modus operandi.
The re-birth of Negative Campaigns, far-from-sagacious protests featuring a blitzkrieg of press conferences and media coverage, gullible citizens and fallacies. While Thato Network believes that in political PR, transparency is important(a case of control your story before others play it out for you), we also believe that media training should have been employed from the onset. Over the past few months we have seen emotionally driven leaders address the nation employing all mannerisms of fallacies where logic should have been put to play.
- Appeal to Emotion – It all starts with “My fellow Kenyans” or “The people of Kenya”
- Appeal for Crowd – Before the August 8th elections, Kenyans were fed with dreams of “10 million strong vs 45 million strong.” The upcoming Presidential re-run has campaigns has slogans “vifaranga vya kompyuta & wembe ule ule”
- Opposition – All a political leader belonging to the opposing party has to do is stand and say is either “NASA supports this” or “Jubilee supports this” and as a result they paint their opponent as “the enemy”
- Straw Man – This is when the opinion of one leader is taken and twisted to represent a false.
- Non-sequitur – This applies to a classic case scenario such as presidential candidate Raila Odinga claiming to have pulled out of the presidential race sequentially refusing to sign the required FORM 24A.
- Black or white thinking – The idea that supporters of Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga cannot carry out mature conversation. An illusion that there are only two stances by ignoring the different variables and contexts that create a third (or more!) options. This has especially led to kindergarten type of virtual bickering on social media.
Fallacies function as shortcuts in place of correct thinking and arguing. To a Nation that is vaguely educated on her civic rights and Responsibilities, fallacies seem to play big role in Political Public Relations solely because of the notion that this is what the people want to hear. What we fail to take note is the consequential result of said fallacies evident in the debacle representation of this country. A continuously drifting police-civilian relationship, mood on social media, a platform open to the rest of the world to monitor.
For a strained economy to be eased, a sense of patriotism reaffirmed and an apparent modus vivendi to be reached we would propose that both PR and Marketing bodies work together on a unifying solution. We are not advocating for any “Nusu Mkate” situations, we believe that leaders from both parties should apply political decorum for no other reason than focusing on the very same civilian whose interests they claim to hold valuable rather than their own political legacy.
- We need to see more leaders applying zeal in the enlightenment of civic responsibilities through grassroot activations, press and digital marketing.
- We need to have more leaders acknowledge that their words hold weight and exert undue influence on the majority gullible followers.
- We need to acknowledge that the term “peace, love and unity” (uhuru,Amani na unduly) holds minimal merit in comparison to the tribal estrangement that the Peoples politicians shy from addressing.
Is it really a successful PR campaign if there is no beneficial relationship between the Public and her political leaders?
Come October 26th 2017, we are curious to see what Crisis and Political Public Relations and Marketing antiques will be employed in order to keep the country from steering itself to greater unrest and further into an economic sink hole.
Thato Network would like to point out that the above article was written for analytical purposes and not political insightment