These words might have come from any of our colleagues at the 4th World PR Festival, jointly organised by the Global Alliance and the PR Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) in Cape Town. But no, they where said by a politician.
Mrs. Helen Zille, Mayor of Cape Town, addressed an audience of almost 300 people at the opening session of this event that shifted PR world’s attention to Africa. She highlighted a relevant point of what was after to be confirmed as a really different view about PR. She said that “there is no substitute for transparent communication in Public Government” and recommended to the audience that “you should never try to substitute substance with glossy talk”.
Another politician, Mr. Ebrahim Rasool, Premier of the Western Cape Province, stated that if there is one thing that was revolutionized by Globalisation, it was Communication and that only when you “understand the difference between credibility and non credibility” can you really practice PR.
Is this a specific case in Africa? Certainly not, but there are indeed some differences between what people have in mind and are concerned about here when they talk about PR.
Amongst many of our African colleagues you could feel a great joy about hosting this Festival and a great will to show that Public Relations, I dare say for the whole of Africa represented here, are supposed to contribute to equality amongst people who “live and see the other “ rather than to statistical figures. They tend to refer more to terms like ‘humanity’, ‘community’, ‘development and progress’, ‘dialogue’ or ‘making a difference’, rather than to terms like ‘lifestyle’, ‘consumer groups’, ‘economic growth’, ‘inform’ or ‘revolution’.
I’m sure this tells us a lot about the different social models at stake here, but what does this tells us about PR? Can those of you who are out there around the world give us your views?