Postcard from Kenya: A thriving place for a PR business

As a gateway nation, Kenya's economy is thriving and this is reflected in its vibrant PR market, says Christopher Genasi, MD of Grayling Kenya.

Kenya is a thriving place to have a PR business. While falling commodity prices have seen growth slow in many African countries, Kenya continues to maintain steady economic progress as its economy is more balanced. It is also blessed with a strategically important gateway loc­ation in East Africa, providing access to the coast via the port of Mombasa.

As a result, multinational businesses tend to have their regional headquarters in Kenya, which is good news for service providers such as the PR sector. Many major Kenyan businesses are also investing for growth across the region and the country is attracting inward investment from the Gulf, China, India, the US and the UK. Enc­ouraged by this market growth, many Kenyan businesspeople who moved to the UK or the US are returning home to create businesses and bring back talent to an already strong and entrepreneurial workforce.

A stable political and economic environment encourages investment from the private sector and international funding bodies, with tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, energy and property being the fast growing sectors at the moment. This economic honey pot attracts a flourishing PR sector, with all the major international comms firms represented, as well as established independent consultancies.

Kenyan PR firms are distinctive in that they offer a wide range of marketing and int­egrated comms services including above-the-line advertising, design and branding development, web design and dir­ect marketing campaigns. This is as well as conventional services of public aff­airs, corporate, consumer and internal comms and social and traditional media relations.

Both the public and private sectors use external PR consultancies to supplement in-house teams and the newspapers carry advertisements for public sector PR tenders on an almost daily basis. Perhaps reflecting the wide range of services offered by PR firms, requests for proposals typically call for a wide scope of work. In this market clients want to buy everything from one shop and Kenyan PR firms are expected to offer it all.

Kenyans absolutely love social media and its role in comms campaigns tends to be soph­isticated and always plays a major element. Mobile use is prolific in Kenya and defines the way people live much of their lives. For example, many transactions take place entirely through mobiles, totally bypassing the banking system, using a payment system called m-pesa. So, with the mobile playing such a central role in everyday life, PR strategies are digitally led with campaigns designed for maximum shareability and easy connections between finding, sharing and paying all on a single mobile.

Recent years saw Kenya’s tourism and inw­ard investment progress take a hit following some high profile terrorist attacks which, aside from the human cost, had a significant impact on Kenya’s economy and reputation in the world. But the tide of opinion is turning. Through innovative digital and social media campaigns at home and around the world, Kenya’s vibrant PR sector is doing a great deal to rebuild impacted sectors such as tourism and inward investment, by sharing Kenya’s great assets.

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