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PR & Communications News South Africa

Exclusive: Public relations to play an important role as SA moves towards the GNU

Hubert Joly, author of the Heart of Business writes ‘The purpose of a company has to be to contribute to the common good and serve all its stakeholders in a harmonious fashion’. This statement is indeed relevant in today’s world as companies continue to pay particular attention on building belief in their brand, through limitless PR solutions.
Mandlakazi Mpahlwa, managing director, Joe Public Engage.
Mandlakazi Mpahlwa, managing director, Joe Public Engage.

Over the years we’ve seen how public relations (PR) takes centre stage in not only building belief in brands but in protecting them during a crisis. The relationships you foster and maintain as a company could prove pivotal in retaining your licence to trade.

In this piece, I’d like to draw your attention to one of the disciplines of PR – government affairs. Our recent democratic election results present numerous opportunities for those tasked with government relations in the private sector. Commencing with the potential for forging new relationships and engaging in meaningful policy-related dialogues, this is the time to collaborate with your PR team to ensure that your public policy, government affairs strategies, and playbooks are fit for purpose.

PR on public policy advocacy

PR can drive positive change by formulating compelling narratives and fostering constructive dialogues. Businesses go through complex regulatory landscapes, thus necessitating effective advocacy campaigns. PR complements your business strategies of growth by identifying opportunities on how to position your corporate messaging in public policy advocacy. Technology advancements in PR offer monitoring and measuring tools that will ensure your campaign is based on data and sound insights.

The public remain your key stakeholder

A multifaceted public affairs campaign enhances the value of your government relations efforts. Integrating a government relations strategy with a creative marketing and PR campaign can effectively convey desired messaging and foster positive changes in your policy landscape.

A well-structured public affairs campaign, guided by your purpose, is key in building belief in your brand and thus your story. There’s your standard approach which includes identifying your primary stakeholders, building third party voices and strategically aligning on common areas of growth. This ultimately leads to positively influencing your public.

Reputation Management while managing your public affairs campaign

PR can strategically safeguard your organisation's reputation by continuously monitoring public sentiment, addressing issues promptly and consistently landing your key messages. The continuous monitoring affords you the flexibility to pivot as and when required to do so. It is not a linear process. By building a positive public image and building trust with stakeholders, PR will mitigate reputational risks and sustain your brand in the face of challenges.

Trends in public affairs PR campaign

The latest trends in public affairs PR campaigns show the success in building belief in your brand is significantly shaped by four key pillars – your relationships; collaboration within your internal functions together with external stakeholders; a proactive or reactive approach; and building trust with the public.

  • Relationships beyond transactions: In the evolving landscape of public affairs PR, relationships transcend mere transactions. They now delve into the realms of trust, credibility, and mutual understanding. Stakeholders, whether customers, partners, media or community members, expect deeper connections. Investing time and effort in nurturing these relationships fosters a profound sense of connection and loyalty to your brand.

  • Collaboration: Collaboration with internal and external stakeholders who share similar values as your brand is critical in public affairs PR. This approach not only sparks innovation but also ensures there’s consensus on the articulation of your policy position. By involving stakeholders early and soliciting their input, PR practitioners build consensus, mitigate conflicts, and cultivate shared ownership. This collaborative ethos strengthens relationships, enhances trust, and sets the stage for sustainable success.

  • Proactive or reactive approach: Public affairs PR campaigns have always prioritised meticulous planning. Analysing the landscape, identifying objectives, and crafting strategic plans are essential steps. Thorough research, tailored messaging, and proactive risk mitigation characterise the approach. A well-defined plan ensures alignment, clarity, and maximises opportunities for success amidst dynamic environments.

  • Trust-centric communication: Building trust with the public emerges as a cornerstone of effective public affairs PR strategies. Transparency, integrity, and ethical behaviour define leadership decisions. Demonstrating accountability and reliability will ensure as a corporate you build belief in your brand. Active engagement, responsive feedback mechanisms, and commitment to shared values nurture enduring relationships that will build trust and confidence in your brand. While building trust demands effort, its dividends in brand loyalty and stakeholder support are invaluable for sustained success.

As businesses thrive and establish themselves as trustworthy and reliable entities, they become integral components of the nation's economic ecosystem, driving progress and prosperity for all. The time is now to reinvest in reintroducing your company and fostering new relationships in building belief in your corporate brand.

About Mandlakazi Mpahlwa

Mandlakazi Mpahlwa is managing director of Joe Public Engage.

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