My takeaways from the 2023 Africa PR and Communications Report

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen or at least you heard about the 2023 Africa PR and Communications Report (APCR). If you haven’t, I just have to ask, where have you been? If you’re yet to download and read through the report, you need to. The APCR is a valuable resource for African Communications and Public Relations professionals that work within the continent. It is also a useful report for senior leaders and organisations who want to do business in the continent.

Even though I was part of the research participants for this Report, I had several light bulb moments while reading through the final findings. Some of the insights didn’t surprise me, while others just left me in awe. I’m going to share my key takeaways from the ACPR and the action points you can take from the Report.


There is an urgent need for upskilling and capacity-building 

This is one of the findings that didn’t come as a surprise to me. Running The Comms Avenue and interacting with professionals from across the continent has shown me that there are important skill gaps that need to be closed.

The APCR states that, “Practitioners are facing a skills gap. The largest gaps identified are in strategic thinking and planning, data visualisation and storytelling, research, evaluation and measurement and copywriting and editing.”

These are the critical areas that will help us to show the value of the work we do. I know it is expected that your organisation will send you on trainings, but if your organisation doesn’t, you have to take responsibility for upskilling yourself.

Take advantage of free courses online. You can also leverage my Comms Simplified Series on YouTube to close knowledge gaps.

Join professional associations that have resources and courses that will benefit you. Enrol for specialised training programmes such as the Comms Intensive Africa. Read books and follow thought leaders in the industry to keep up with the latest trends.


Make it your business to know the business of your organisation

So here’s the thing – you cannot perform your role effectively in any organisation if you do not have an in-depth knowledge about the organisation and the industry in which it operates. Here’s what was revealed in the Report:

PR professionals are expected to have a working knowledge of their client’s industry, whether it be politics or oil and gas. Preferably, someone with in-depth knowledge of the industry should be advising the team.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. How can you advise an organisation when you don’t really understand the details of what the organisation does and how it operates? This is one key reason why Communications isn’t fully occupying a seat at the table yet. We still struggle to demonstrate impact that aligns to what matters most to an organisation. This shouldn’t be the case.

If we’re going to be strategic advisors within any organisation (and this should be the goals), we must understand:

  • How the organisation makes money.
  • What the value drivers within the organisation are.
  • How each function contributes value to the organisation.
  • The peculiarities of the industry in which the organisation operates.
  • The areas in which Communications and Public Relations can be leveraged to drive value and help the organisation to achieve its objectives.

Without this understanding, people will continue to underestimate that value of what we do as Communications and Public Relations professionals.


Working without measuring should be avoided 

Every time I have to train Communications professionals, this is one key message I repeat over and over again. It is no longer acceptable to say Communications and Public Relations cannot be measured. How will you articulate your value if you do not measure?

This lack of measurement is also one of the reasons why our profession isn’t taken seriously. How do we explain spending thousands or millions on an activity or campaign and not being able to articulate what the Return On Investment (ROI) or Return on Objectives are? No organisation can last long if key performance metrics are not being tracked and measured.

According to the APCR, “More PR practitioners are required to scientifically report on the impact of their work and those who can adequately do this are guaranteed tremendous growth in the future.”

If measurement is something you’re still trying to wrap your head around, please leverage the resources on the website of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). Can I also encourage you to take it a step further by at least taking their foundation course? It will help you.

This is one area you need to take seriously if you don’t want to be one of the professionals who will be left behind in terms of growth.

Identify where you want to pitch your tent 

At the beginning of my career, I had the opporunity to dive into the world of Church Communications. It’s a thing and it is huge.

“One of Africa’s biggest exports is faith-based institutions. The continent is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of major religions worldwide. As a result, new specialised fields such as faith-based public relations will become increasingly important for agencies, as clients from these institutions seek out teams that can effectively navigate and align with their specific religious nuances.”

This is not only true about faith-based instituions but across several industries. There is an increasing need for Communications and PR professionals with specialist knowledge in various fields. This poses a big opportunity area for the discerning professional.

As Eniola Harrison noted in the report, “Another emerging opportunity for the industry is the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement…The PR and communications industry will therefore be a critical vehicle to steer conversations around collaborative actions, emphasizing the need for deepening private sector engagement and commitment to the implementation process.”

Please don’t sleep on any of these rising opportunities. I will share more on how you can position yourself for these opportunities that are opening up.


Something needs to change with regards to how much we earn in this industry

While I already knew that the average remuneration in this industry wasn’t great, this one particularly left me in awe. According to the Report:

“A significant majority (73%) of industry professionals earn less than $10,000 per month–-17% earn less than $200; this was common in countries like Nigeria and Ghana. A third (32%) of the professionals earn between $200 – $1000 monthly, as seen in Rwanda and Kenya. Another 24% earned above $1000 but below $10,000 as monthly income, as was the case in Botswana, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Only 6% of practitioners earned a monthly income within the range of $10,000 to $30,000, and 2.5% earned between $30,000 to $50,000 monthly. As expected in any population sample, a small percentage (1.3%) earn over $50,000 monthly, as seen in Kenya and Nigeria.”

It goes without saying that Communications and Public Relations professionals need to earn more across the continent, especially with the level of work that we do. The question now is – how do we achieve this? I think this is the point where associations and practitioners should consider coming together to advocate for better pay and put forward a pay scale that reflects the value that Communications and Public Relations professionals bring at every level.

Beyond that, I think the culture of silence with regards to pay needs to end. I have lost count of the number of young professionals who have shared the proposed remuneration an organisation is offering and I advised them to ask for more and also told them how to negotiate. A large majority of them got the higher figure. Please speak to someone you trust when you are negotiating pay, whether for an in-house or consulting role.

Finally, this conversation must be driven with value and results. I believe that as more Communications and PR professionals truly understand the goals of an organisation, deliver work that helps the organisation to achieve those goals and effectively measure their impact within the organisation, we would have the leverage that we need at the negotiating table.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, the APCR is a very valuable resource. Please download it and share with other colleagues. The data in the Report will help us to get the African Communications and Public Relations Industry to where it needs to be.


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