Connecting with a continent: 3 tips to amplify your impact in Africa

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The exponential rise of broadband and mobile accessibility in African markets has given rise to a continent more connected than ever before, with consumers now easily able to access information and breaking news at the click of a button.

For global companies looking to make headway in emerging markets like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, this newfound connectivity presents plentiful opportunities to spread the word and establish authority in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

However, despite the reduced technological barriers to success, Africa remains a difficult continent to crack for those without adequate knowledge of its diverse customs, nuances and cultural sensibilities.

Whilst the technological landscape might closely resemble those seen in Western markets, the story on the ground is an entirely different one, with local journalists continuing to apply a more traditional approach to news acquisition and publication.

As a result, many global organisations have tried and failed to make their mark in these territories, confounded by the complexities of a continent still coming to terms with its rapid technological evolution.

So how do you sidestep these cultural hurdles and take advantage of the opportunities Africa’s emerging markets provide? Here are 3 tips to help you amplify your impact:

Understand individual markets

Whilst Africa’s numerous markets might indeed boast significant similarities, each country has decidedly different customs when it comes to media. If you want to ensure your PR campaigns resonate optimally within each individual territory, you’re going to need to tailor your approach carefully and consider using a local PR agency. Home-grown agencies boast an innate understanding of the local media landscape, and will be able to guide you based on the varied infrastructures, incomes and media consumption habits, which differ considerably from country to country.

Budget appropriately

In Africa, the cost of doing business can often be higher than expected, particularly given the poor transport infrastructure and low earning potential of journalists in certain countries. In Nigeria for instance, companies would be expected to subsidise transport costs to ensure media attendance at events, and, in certain cases, be encouraged to offer up a fee for coverage. However, in a country like South Africa, this type of practice would be regarded as unethical, so it’s vital that you do your research and budget accordingly based on the specific country in which you’re attempting to do business.

Pick the right people

Whilst CEOs and renowned international spokespeople might draw big crowds and garner widespread coverage in developed markets, they tend to have less pull in Africa. Given the swift rise of these emerging territories, local entrepreneurship is high on the news agenda, meaning that local, self-made success stories are much more newsworthy. African culture is still very much centred on community, and as such, stories with a home-grown spin tend to gain much more traction than those that appear copied and pasted from global markets.

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