Holmes Report 12 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
Since the genocide of 1994, Rwanda has been significantly transformed. However, beyond its own borders, Rwanda has suffered from a significant lack of international recognition, share of voice and an outdated image. To offset this, the government decided to implement a communications offensive highlighting the country?s economic, political and social advancements in order to engage key stakeholders in a dialogue about The New Rwanda. Racepoint Group was tasked with developing a positioning for Rwanda that would reflect its significant progress and bright future on the world stage and with communicating this to key audiences in the US and Europe, with particular attention on social media conversations. Cabinet-ministers and the President were interviewed by the most influential publications and broadcast media. By-lined articles were placed together with features, Q&As, commentary and profiles on the country that centred on the key campaign issues such as human rights, democracy, economic development and tourism. Racepoint also embarked on an aggressive issues response programme targeting national print, business and broadcast media, focused on human rights, cultural redevelopment, independence and democratic misperceptions. Racepoint strengthened Rwanda? presence in digital channels (including Twitter, Facebook, FlickR and YouTube) by communicating Rwanda? story more vocally and frequently. We transformed organic text and visual search with Page 2 Racepoint implemented media „amiliarisation?tours of Rwanda that generated written, audio and visual content for print, broadcast and online journalists. Specific tour itineraries were developed for each press segment to experience political, economic and socio-economic elements of Rwanda's development. Racepoint also organised editorial board meetings, roundtables, press conferences and investor relations meetings during key ministerial visits to the US and Europe. Rwanda was admitted to the Commonwealth of Nations in November 2009 and was ranked as the world? top reformer in The World Bank? 2010 "Doing Business" report. Discussions about Rwanda relating to topics including education, travel and tourism, economy and democracy increased by more than 55%. Over all discussions about Rwanda increased by 4,400%. Discussions related to the Rwandan genocide decreased by 11%. Racepoint organised one familiarisation tour every quarter with 6-10 media visiting Rwanda each time, resulting in coverage from CNN, CNBC, Newsweek and ten page article in BBC Lonely Planet entitled, "Rwanda, A New Dawn". The March tour reached 1,843,000 people on Twitter.
Planning and Strategy Building
Racepoint embarked on a multi-pronged planning and strategy development initiative that included a national tour of Rwanda to gain a deeper understanding of the country?s cultural, economic and political dynamics. This involved stakeholder input sessions with President Kagame, various cabinet ministers, external groups including the Blair Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, as well as local citizens and community leaders. We also conducted a deep dive study and analysis of the underpinnings of the genocide and the corrective measures implemented since. All of this data was used to develop a multi-point communications program with the following objectives:
? Highlight the pride and progress made by Rwandan citizens.
? Elevate the country's agenda with the investment community.
? Educate and correct the ill informed and factually incorrect information perpetuated by certain groups of expatriates and NGOs.
? Advance Rwanda's standing with key political influencers in global capitals.
The campaign focused on an integrated strategy comprising traditional, digital and experiential components. Rather than attempt to hide or react to every piece of negative narrative about Rwanda, the approach was to communicate as much factually correct and positive news as possible. Time was spent identifying the channels in which the most influential conversations were taking place so that efforts could be focused accordingly.
Turning up the volume in traditional media:
Social Media - Flooding the Web:
updated imagery and built, launched and sustained two online communities for Rwanda to highlight key news and facts as well as correct misinformation.
Experiencing The New Rwanda:
Summary of Results
Political and Economic Outcomes:
? In May 2010 Rwanda hosted a major forum on women? equality that was endorsed by the UN and attended by leaders from all over Africa, Europe and the US State Department.
? President Kagame played a vital role in the United Nation? Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in September 2010 and Rwanda was nominated for two MDG awards.
In the September to March 2010 timeframe, proactive outreach generated more than 40 positive articles about The New Rwanda in international media including Newsweek, Financial Times, Der Speigel, BBC World and CNN (see supporting materials for examples).
? More than 2,000 images were tagged and posted online in six months, ensuring organic search results displayed more positive and bright images to illustrate the "new Rwanda".
? Two online communities (FriendsofRwanda and RwandaFactCheck) received approximately 4,800 page views per month with traffic from 29 different countries.
? Secured 1,300+ Twitter followers including media, World Bank, UN programs and International Finance Corporation.
? Meetings were secured with potential investors including Prism Ventures and Highland Capital Partners
? 15 high profile media attended a Commonwealth roundtable, resulting in coverage including Reuters, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and CNN.