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Good public relations is a must have

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th July 2009 03:00 AM

MY attention was captured by an opinion piece on public relations in The New Vision on June 19 by a Kampala-based commercial attorney called Denis Sembuya. It was interesting to note that the article was written by a lawyer and not a PR consultant

MY attention was captured by an opinion piece on public relations in The New Vision on June 19 by a Kampala-based commercial attorney called Denis Sembuya. It was interesting to note that the article was written by a lawyer and not a PR consultant

By Sheila Kangwagye

EXECUTIVE TALK

MY attention was captured by an opinion piece on public relations in The New Vision on June 19 by a Kampala-based commercial attorney called Denis Sembuya.

It was interesting to note that the article was written by a lawyer and not a PR consultant as one would likely expect.
I say interesting because the realisation that the need for good PR is not confined to only those that practice it.
It cuts across all professions, races, religions, ages, genders and so many other parameters that you just can’t afford to ignore it any longer.

Especially if one is a public figure.
And for such a person, PR is not a “nice to have” it is a must have.
Just look at what it has done for one of its best users in the world today, Barack Obama. This man does not leave home without it; he knows its power.

There is a saying by Warren Buffet; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

“If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

The trouble with most people is that they don’t think.

And by the time they start thinking, everyone’s pretty much made up their mind on the issue and convincing them otherwise will take a miracle akin to Jesus walking on water.

Speaking of Jesus, the media frenzy that surrounded the pastors in the sodomy scandals had their reputations utterly ravaged. And these are supposedly God-fearing family men who now get looks of suspicion and curiosity whenever they drive past.

I’m certain there are large numbers of their followers who rubbished our scandal hungry and crazed media and put it down to envy and internal church wrangles but I guarantee you there is an equally large number whose faith in these individuals was thoroughly devastated and may never be the same again. And I can assure you one other thing, all these pastors have teams of lawyers, not one has a PR expert on those teams.

Money can be lost and made again, businesses can go bust and be rebuilt but once you’ve lost your reputation, don’t have the right image, haven’t created the right impression, everything is likely to go downhill from there.

Events like the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) Excellence Awards reaffirm that the PR industry in Uganda is alive, growing and very vibrant and taking steps everyday to show why it is important that we have the right image, the right reputation and the right message, especially when it comes to selling.

Selling our country, selling ourselves, selling our exports and so many of our resources. It will need the right packaging in order to create the right image and you need PR for this.

Mr. Sembuya is right when he says the PR industry should step in and promote (protect) people whose images and reputations are being tarnished.
But we cannot do this if those whose images and reputations being tarnished don’t appreciate the value that we bring to the team.

The PR professional is very much in the realm of the other professionals who provide a service that will undoubtedly improve on ones public life and image.
I would like to challenge public figures and personalities to seek out PR professionals and make them an integral and essential part of their teams just as they do lawyers and accountants.

And most importantly, follow their recommendations because as Socrates, the Greek philosopher once said, “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.”

The writer is a member of the Public Relations Association of Uganda

Good public relations is a must have

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