The body that unites Public Relations (PR) professionals in Uganda has responded to the recent comments made by President Yoweri Museveni regarding the PR function.
They say that some of his statements are inconsistent with what PR stands for, adding that institutions like government require PR.
During his televised address to the nation over the weekend, President Museveni said he personally does not need PR or what he termed as “polishing” from anybody.
“People come here saying they want to be my PR. I don’t need PR, I’m Yoweri Museveni, son of Kaguta, General of the resistance army, I don’t need any polishing,” the President said.
“Many people have been telling me ‘What matters is not the facts but the perception’. Really?”
He said that he can not subscribe to the notion of his government or Uganda concentrating on the image it portrays rather than the reality on the ground.
“They tell me ‘You see mzeei, what matters is not what happens but what is perceived’. So the world is going to become a world of appearing, not doing”.
He also decried what he termed as buyayeism (dishonesty) by the groups that approached him selling spin as PR.
Following these comments which have attracted mixed reaction, Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) has issued a statement informing Museveni what PR actually is about.
“Whereas PRAU agrees with parts of the President’s assessment, as an association of Public Relations professionals in Uganda, we are concerned that there are aspects of the President’s statement that are a misrepresentation of the profession of Public Relations (PR) and hence this clarification,” said Ms Sarah Kagingo, the President of PRAU.
Kagingo noted that PRAU agrees with the President when he assesses that PR should not be about distorting reality, but that “professional PR practice is in fact not about distorting reality and making appearances”.
“When the President describes the advice he received as “PR”, this is far from the true definition of PR,” she added.
According to the definition provided by the Association, PR and or Reputation Management is the art of creating and managing a shared understanding between an organisation or individual with stakeholders.
PRAU says that all organisations, especially those that have a higher responsibility to the public, such as government, need the communication and PR function.
“Typically, the bigger the impact of an organisation/entity, the greater the need for public relations engagement,” Kagingo said.
She however mentioned that the President has the prerogative to choose whether or not he needs PR.
The PRAU President brought to the attention the Association’s pursuit for statutory recognition which she said is critical in fostering professional ethics and standards in the PR profession.
“When professionals do not uphold these standards, the profession suffers and so do the clients”.
According to Kagingo, once the body has attained statutory recognition, it shall back efforts towards holding individual practitioners and agencies to the highest standards and call out practitioners that provide misleading advice.