Vodafone Ghana’s External Affairs Director, Gayheart Mensah, has taken a subtle swipe at business organisations for their ineffective deployment of Public Relations concepts and interventions.
He suggested that unless these evolve in a way that promotes sustainability, the very survival of businesses would be difficult to guarantee.
The modern day organisational dynamics has employed Public Relations as a catalyst in demonstrating visibility, managing issues and portraying a positive outlook and image.
However, inasmuch as Public Relations has become the pillar in engaging external audiences about a company’s efforts, there still remains a certain pervasive lack of understanding of the concept in corporate organisations.
The growing tendency to position it as a necessary but not strategic component of the business effort manifests this lack of understanding.
Speaking at the CIMG Annual Marketing Conference in Accra, Gayheart Mensah was unequivocal:
“When I hear marketing agencies present marketing plans and add a line that they will also do some PR, my exasperation about the misconception worsens. Let me say with all the force I can command that what we marketers and marketing agencies do as part of an integrated marketing communications is not Public Relations. It is, at best, publicity, which is a tool for both marketing and PR.”
In a speech that was not without its fair share of controversial comments, Gayheart intimated that Public Relations has a very broad spectrum and includes such strands as Stakeholder Management, Advocacy, Reputation Management, Investor Relations and Crisis Management.
“Marketers need to embrace the bigger picture and understand that PR is an overarching practice that encompasses every facet of the corporate life,” he added.
Meanwhile, delving into another controversial realm, Gayheart delivered a no-holes barred expose on the controversy surrounding Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. He posited that the two are inseparable:
“I beg to differ on the differences people aspire to CSR and Sustainability. If the objective of any corporate organisation for undertaking CSR activities is not business sustainability, then those CSR activities ought to be interrogated”, he quipped.
The Vodafone Director added that at no point should government consider legislating the CSR space; especially as it is an activity that should be voluntary. He shared the belief that legislating on CSR will associate valuable sustainability interventions with a pale shadow of what it is intended to achieve:
“Invariably, a CSR law will reduce the concept to a mere self-administered tax on business, where government will prescribe for the organisations, where to channel that tax. All those win-win projects, where companies support areas that are natural fit for what they do to make money, will be actively discouraged under a CSR law”
The CIMG conference is organised annually and brings together Marketing professionals and academicians from across the country to deliberate on modern trends of the discipline as well as adopt ways of strengthening the discipline in the corporate world. This year’s theme centered on “The Future of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility – Evolve or Die”.
Credit: Vodafone Ghana