A FORESEEN CRISIS: The Unforeseen Safaricom Story.

In an environment where people have, month in and month out screamed for transparency, crisis communication should be considered extremely pertinent. Should your brand or organization lack a crisis department up-to-par with the current psychological way of thinking; within your public relations department, then the remaining days of 2017 should have you considering to either outsource a consultant or invest in an in-house attaché because come 2018, your brand and entity should be able to grasp onto this salvageable politically screwed social-economic crisis by its horns least your company will go into further recession.

The year 2017 has seen economic stagflation (not the kind that has every Kenyan quote “ngoja elections ziishe kwanza), 2017 has seen numerous businesses hold breath for fear of civil war due to political unrest. True to Kenyan fashion, yet another elections has come and lives have been lost, businesses have suffered loss and investments have been vested elsewhere. A norm that seems to reccur every 5 years. 2017 however, has taken it to a whole new level, multi billion corporates are now being dragged into political gutters.

Crisis Communications is founded on objectivity, more so, politically affiliated Public Relations. Contrary to popular belief it is a gamble to handle a political image as you would handle a shiny new object in the market seeking recognition from its demographic. So if your PR firm sold you the what’s new, what’s hot, what’s shiny MO, your political career was  short-changed. If your PR team tells you to ignore the witchhunt till calm is restored, they are not capable of handling crisis comunincation.

Is it that the very same PR firms that you hire to guide you are not PR enough to call a spade a spade? Someone intellectual at the NRM- Kenya department saw this and used the one thing Kenyan’s have been crying for in order to generate holistic traction. The lay man, the majority demographic, both by population and economic dependency has now being given a list of brands and services to boycott in the spirit of  allegiance; while this may be humorous to the middle class social media meme craze society, we seem not to take into account the millions of shillings that are exchanged on a daily within this low-income demographic that has been told to boycott in the name of democracy.

Case Study: Boycott Safaricom

To the least, say 1 million Kenyans decide to boycott a brand such as Safaricom for just a day, it would cost the communications giant at least 10 million shillings given that individuals would ordinary transfer or withdraw the least minimum allowed by Safaricom’s Mpesa terms and conditions. This may seem like a minute setback however we have not taken into account how much airtime is used in a day be it through communication or leisure activities such as gaming and lastly, the internal and external effects of shaming Safaricom’s integrity as a corporate brand.

A big mistake that big brands seem to make is to take on the “no comment” angle in the face of adversity. We obviously do not expect Safaricom to engage in a back and forth sully with NRM- Kenya adherents but the stake holders silence has given leeway to further denigration. The image painted of the Vodafone managed mobile network is that it willingly vouchsafed to the “far-from-transparent” presidential election process that left a lot to be desired.

A lot of what should not be happening in a politically stirred crisis is having advocacy-type of brainstorms in boardrooms and the sad truth is that most PR consultants tell you the truth you envision rather than the possible worst that could happen which means most corporate giants do not invest in proverbial drills that would cushion their image in the event of an affliction. Essentially, your PR/ Communications department should be able to anticipate a crisis at a given period. For Safaricom’s involvement with voter tallying, they should have thought, “how can this play to our disadvantage, given the previous election conundrum and alleged iniquity?”

Acknowledging that there is a politically stirred situation that has occurred is the first step in calming your affected client base; but who is the right person to address their client demographic and what form of media training must they go embark on? Safaricom major stakeholders should be able to be in a position where they can objectively evaluate the effects of the recent stakeholders association press; moving forward, did they really reach out to NRM-Kenya affiliated stronghold business areas and their resistance devotees or is that business demographic a risk they are willing to gamble?

The joy in our digital age is that corporate is able to set up real-time monitoring and notification systems so really we should be seeing more well researched hyperactive PR counter activities swaying us social media frenzied demographics while they embark on grassroot communications outreach activities both internally and externally.

The one thing we salute the NRM- Kenya would be their nimble media outreach and continuous peer-peer engagement thereby maximizing n the possible equity their brand seems to attract. Were it just another poorly funded interest group clutching at the straws we wouldn’t see the media following them around despite recent debauchery by their very own (NRM) to their very own (MEDIA HOUSES)

Game set corporate, it’s now your turn to take control of this ongoing crisis, the Thato Network Way!



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