Monday, July 17, 2017

The SABC's PR tsar Kaizer Kganyago demands a 'full apology' from The Star - and the newspaper actually prints the tacky demand.

The SABC's PR tsar Kaizer Kganyago demands a full apology from The Star newspaper in a way that further illustrates just how far the SABC's relationship with other media has deteriorated and that also sheds more light on how bad the South African public broadcaster's actual public relations with the press has become.

The SABC's Kaizer Kganyago says the public broadcaster demands a full apology from Independent Media's The Star for a story about the SABC.

The SABC "demands" its apology in these following words - something that that The Star actually printed: "The SABC would like to have a full apology published in your newspaper today, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago".

Of course there hasn't been any full apology from The Star to the SABC and I won't be surprised if there won't be.

Proper media and especially newspapers don't respond kindly to these types of "notices" for lack of a better word.

The SABC Kaizer Kganyago is making the demand saying "the SABC noted with concern the gross misrepresentation in the article, 'Zuma delays SABC probe' (10 July, The Star)."

"This article carried a subtitle which states that the 'Interim board wants to SIU action to stop Hlaudi accessing millions', which is a complete distortion as the interim board has not at any point made this proclamation".

"The first paragraph of the article also indicates that the 'SABC is concerned that delays by president Jacob Zuma to sign a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) proclamation to probe the rot at the cash-strapped public broadcaster could see its former boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng cashing in on his pension millions".

"It must be noted that this is also incorrect as the SABC has not made such utterances; your article should properly indicate the sources of this information and not be written as if the SABC has said so."

"We therefore request your publication to rectify these negative implications as they have a great potential in damaging the reputation of the SABC's interim board, the SABC brand and they will also confuse the public."

Now, it's quite ugly to see how the SABC sent something like that to a newspaper and in my opinion it's indicative of how the SABC's media relationships with the press have soured and continues to erode instead of improving.

Why is the SABC and Kaizer Kganyago sending something like this to The Star? Why is this handled publicly and why did Kaizer Kganyago not go to The Star editor's office personally to go and have a private conversation? Too many Muvhango episodes to catch on now that the SABC is rerunning 20-year old episodes on SABC2 in primetime as well?

Has the SABC's Kaizer Kganyago even met Kevin Ritchie as editor of The Star? Has he sat down with The Star's news editor Mojalefa Mashego? Did he first go and have a one-on-one meeting with the news editor to explain the situation, taken anyone for coffee?

I would guess not. Yet, that is what publicists and spokespeople worth their salt do, instead of ignoring and not responding to media enquiries and sending notices like this to newspapers.

Good and effective public relation practitioners build relationships and engage media, tirelessly work on fostering rapport and building working relationships instead of antagonising the media and journalists.

By being nice, responsive, properly responding to media enquiries, sending out press releases timeously and to the right people, help to get your real, correct message across - something that the beleaguered SABC's spokespeople and PRs for a long time seem to not understand.

In fact, it seems as if they're deliberately doing the opposite of what would help to build and restore the SABC's tattered brand image.

It doesn't even seem as if media and journalists want to go and attend SABC media briefings anymore - something that's perhaps (and there's other reasons as well) partially due to the fact of how bad the SABC has run press conferences over the past year and a half.

Interestingly to note is that The Times followed up on the SIU story with Khanyisile Kweyama, who as the interim SABC chairperson - and directly representing the public broadcaster, told The Times that Hlaudi Motsoeneng's case has been handed over to the SIU to "fast-track the investigation so that we can lay criminal charges and recover payments if the end of the investigation is that there are recoveries to be made."

It feels and seems so odd and awkward for the SABC's Kaizer Kganyago to chime in with the demand for an apology from The Star when SABC interim board members are other SABC insiders are constantly talking about the SIU, its pending investigation, the R11.4 million that was paid to Hlaudi Motsoeneng as part of the extremely controversial SABC MultiChoice channels deal for DStv, the shocking R9 million payouts to certain artists and the disastrous Thank You SABC Concert.

There is one point in the demand to The Star where Kaizer Kganyago is absolute correct.

Public perception matters. It matters a huge deal. But part of managing public perception is of managing it - and doing so properly. You can't do nothing, or take actions that creates the opposite perceptions, and expect things to work out if you don't  know how the media works, or work with them.

The SABC's Kaizer Kganyago should perhaps go to the closest Auckland Park library and use his library card for Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People and read that.

For to demand a "full apology" in the crass and trashy way it comes across and that it was just done with The Star, in my opinion, only ends up with someone losing friends and alienate the media further.

The SABC is a public broadcaster - its essence, supposedly, communication.

The people who speak for it, and how they say it, can - and should - be so much better.