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Comment on 4th PAMRO Conference

The Pan African Media Research Organisation (PAMRO) held its annual conference in Victoria Falls from September 22 to 25. The theme of this conference was "The First step into a new future".
The objectives of PAMRO entail the creation of a forum for key bodies in the marketing (including NGOs), research and media industries in different African countries to:
  • exchange knowledge
  • learn from one-another's successes and failures
  • ensure the highest quality
  • harmonise research methodologies to work towards a continental media research database for the growing number of global players.

    In preparation of this article, I asked a representative sample of all "stakeholders" (researchers, media owners, marketers, advertising agencies, media agencies) to give me feedback on their expectations of the PAMRO conference, their takeout and suggestions for future conferences.

    Herewith a summary of my "findings":

    Their expectations were :
    • platform to meet other advertising and communications professionals, and network among similarly oriented marketers and research organisations operating in African markets
    • interaction with media research professionals, and get an overview of current research projects and methodologies in different markets.
    • A forum to ensure that standards are achieved in line with the expectations of global multi-national marketers (think global and act local)
    • PAMRO playing a "missionary role in carrying the flame of best practice and a desire for establishing credible data- gathering research formulation while bringing influence to bear to create the climates in various countries where PAMRO's objectives can obtain buy-in


    There was an Interesting mix of speakers and topics
    • Trevor Ncube of Mail and Guardian on the way forward and NEPAD
    • Prof Carel van Aardt fom UNISA on the importance of accurate estimates
    • Ato Afful from TV Africa on how electronic media can contribute to developing Africa
    • Brian McMillan, Consultant to etv on survival of a 'free-to-air' TV channel in a commercially 'paid for' and government subsidised environment
    • Robin Phillips, the African Extension, on 21st century communications technology and its impact on media research
    • Carston Kim Sing of Clear Channel on outdoor, the neglected medium
    • Munyaradzi Hwengwere of ZBC on the power of electronic media in Zimbabwe
    • Sharon Penhallrick, Sharon Penhallrick Consulting, on the "importance and value of media research to the communications planning process".


    The PAMRO conference this year was successful and well organized by Piet Smit. Informal networking, sharing of experiences and cards, were extremely beneficial to all delegates.

    The establishment of PAMRO and its objectives are well accepted and respected by all parties, but it will need more resource and support in the future.

    The selfless commitment and long working hours of Piet Smit are much respected and appreciated by all. But the secretariat needs to find ways to obtain the resource it requires to achieve all the objectives that have been agreed upon.

    The website is key in ensuring consistent dialogue between PAMRO members across the year. However, it needs to be managed well with immediate responses to queries and information requests.

    Positively, it has already been agreed that the agenda for the next conference will ensure:

    - limited time for the AGM and admin issues
    - more comprehensive country reports on status of research in each country (quality controlled by PAMRO secretariat)
  • Unfortunately, due to the fact that this year's conference had to be moved out because of the Summit, many of the key speakers were not able to attend and represent their countries. The missing reports will be put up on the website.
    - more speakers from the rest of the continent (not SA focused)
    - more diverse topics (and case studies) relating to media research
    - topics to cover the need and utilization of research in the communications process
    - workshop sessions aimed at demonstrating techniques and disseminating examples of best practice across all media types.

    The time and date of the next conference is still to be confirmed for next September.

    PAMRO, its value and benefits, should be marketed better to the industry to allow for increased membership, which will give PAMRO more credibility, and allow for funding of more resource to achieve set objectives, in line with PAMRO's vision.

    However, we also need to be realistic about the future of PAMRO! Many members have definite ideas about what should be done and covered - but ultimately after every annual conference, it is left to Piet Smit and his SAARF team to implement everything. Further, theoretically, all members are positive about increased membership and PAMRO's future financial potential, but practically up to now it has been a nightmare to collect all the fees. Therefore, it is important for all players to co-operate with SAARF in every which way. Once this occurs, it will be easier for Piet Smit to be sufficiently confident to allow others to share his responsibilities.

    We are all of Africa, and need to join hands to support PAMRO in its vision for more reliable and consistent media research in Africa, to address the expectations of all global and local marketers. We need to think global and act local, and be more accountable in achieving a better return of investment for our brands.

    "Genius is one percent inspiration - and 99% perspiration" - and it will require hard work from all sectors of the industry to ensure the success of PAMRO now and in the future!

  • About Sharon Penhallrick

    Sharon Penhallrick has been integral to the development of the advertising and media industry in Africa. She is a founding member of PAMRO and has served on many research committees across Africa. She was Media Director of Ogilvy & Mather's East African and South African region before joining McCann-Erickson Africa as Managing Director and Media Director of Team Africa, covering some 26 countries. At present she is Managing Director of Sharon Penhallrick Consulting, specialising in communication solutions across Africa. She may be contacted on cell 082 900 7759 or email .

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