Sarah Kagingo, President of the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU), says the association has been drawn to some statements made by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during his 9th September 2018 address to the nation.
Citing lack of discipline and balance in the media, President Museveni on Sunday told media at State House Entebbe that government has been asleep when it comes to the media management.
“I am Yoweri Museveni, Son of Kaguta, General of the National Resistance Army. I don’t need any PR. I don’t need polishing,” he called out opportunistic PR groups and the global obsession with appearances Vs Reality.
Museveni said media houses including Print and broadcast report mendaciously and the so-called PR firms were deliberately non-progressive.
“Media, you have no right to misrepresent our country. You can only tell facts. I hear people telling me, that in today’s world, it’s is not the facts, but Perception that matters -that I need PR! Really, is that what we want for our country?” Museveni said.
He added: “You see Mzee, what matters these days is not facts…it is perception. That it is from I don’t know where. I want to be your PR. PR,” said scornfully waving his arms in the air and mimicking PR agents.
Kagingo educates the president
In response, Kagingo says whereas PRAU agrees with parts of the President’s assessment, as an association of Public Relations professionals in Uganda, they are concerned that there are aspects of the President’s statement that are a misrepresentation of the profession of Public Relations (PR).
“While PRAU agrees with the President when he assesses that PR should not be about distorting reality, the association maintains that professional PR practice is in fact NOT about distorting reality and making appearances.”
She added: “Therefore, when the President describes the advice he received as “PR”, this is far from the true definition of PR.”
Kagingo who has been in this field for many years and at one time served the president as his Special Communications Assistant, says PR and or Reputation Management is simply the art of creating and managing a shared understanding between an organisation or individual with their most important stakeholders.
“Whether the President needs PR or not is entirely his prerogative. However, all organisations; large or small especially those organisations that have a higher responsibility to the public, such as Government, need the communication and PR function.”
Typically, Kagingo said, the bigger the impact of an organisation/entity, the greater the need for public relations engagement.
“Finally, like most professions, PR has professional ethics and standards. When professionals do not uphold these standards, the profession suffers and so do the clients.”
She said in order to uphold the highest possible standards of professional PR and make these standards enforceable, PRAU has been pursuing statutory recognition, among other efforts.
Once this is achieved, it shall back efforts towards holding individual practitioners and agencies to the highest standards and call out practitioners that provide misleading advice, she went on.
“PRAU remains available for open dialogue on issues affecting the profession and pledges to work with its national membership to uphold the highest possible standards of professional and ethical PR Practice.”
About PRAU: The Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) is the umbrella public relations body of Uganda having been set up to uplift the standards in and promote the public relations profession in the country.
Membership is open to all PR and communications practitioners, business enterprises, SMEs, government bodies, PR agencies, NGO’s, students pursuing PR related courses and in-house PR departments.