CAMPAIGNS: FINANCIAL PR; Visit trades on a famous name

Client: The South African High Commission PR Team: Shandwick Consultants Campaign: President Mandela’s UK visit Timescale: June-July 1996 Cost: Undisclosed

Client: The South African High Commission

PR Team: Shandwick


Campaign: President

Mandela’s UK visit

Timescale: June-July 1996

Cost: Undisclosed

On 8 June, South Africa’s 77-year-old president, Nelson Mandela, arrived

in the UK for a four-day visit to build trade relations. Shandwick

Consultants was hired to co-ordinate his communication with the UK

financial community.


To highlight the economic aspects of the visit amid the pomp and

ceremony, targeting both the City, in order to encourage inward

investment, and the business media.


Six weeks before Mandela’s arrival, Shandwick contacted his office to

arrange interview slots with him and his six ministers. Business

journalists, rather than news and political reporters, were targeted to

ensure the inward investment message was covered.

Reporters were invited to the South African High Commission on 28 June

to receive a briefing on the forthcoming visit and press packs.

Mandela’s ministers and over 100 business leaders arrived on Saturday, 7

July, a day earlier than Mandela himself, and were scheduled to meet

representatives of merchant banks, including Rothschilds, SBC Warburg

and Morgan Stanley, throughout the week. They were also lined up to have

discussions with fund managers and direct investors.

On Monday, Mandela’s first full day in Britain, Trade and Industry

minister Alex Erwin was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today, BBC Radio

Scotland and BBC 1’s Business Breakfast giving the first interviews of

the visit a trade angle.

Mandela spoke at a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference on

his government’s pledge to restructure and privatise public corporations

on Wednesday.

On Thursday Mandela met with the chairman of BP and took part in a

photocall outside the Bank of England with its governor, Eddie George.

The last day involved breakfast at the High Commission attended by four

ministers and 13 financial journalists.


Shandwick is still evaluating coverage, though it achieved its main

targets with Mandela interviews in the Financial Times and on Radio 4,

while the Times and the Daily Telegraph ran surveys on South Africa’s

economic prospects. Other business press coverage included the Sunday

Times business section and Sunday Business.

Results of the public affairs drive to woo investors are harder to

gauge. Shandwick is conducting a survey to see if attitudes to the

country’s economy have changed, but we will have to wait to see if

cheques are signed.


Mandela was bound to make front page news and, with such a huge trade

delegation, economics was clearly on his agenda, making it easier to

shift coverage onto the business pages. However Shandwick ensured the

trade issue was raised first and kept it in the front line with a

tightly controlled campaign in the face of 200 media requests for

interviews with Mandela.

Sunday Telegraph economics editor Bill Jamieson says: ‘Meeting with

bankers and fund managers were behind closed doors, so I was not able to

form a view on how successful they were.’ However, he adds, the media

relations were handled ‘very well and professionally.’

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