The media play an important role in society through providing a platform for discussion and debate. They are also an important stakeholder of ours as they provide us with a channel through which we can communicate with our other stakeholders, such as our customers. Accordingly, we need to make sure that the relevant members of the media are presented with the right facts and information and that significant issues are identified and fully explained so that topics and events are reported in an accurate and balanced manner.
MONITORING OUR PERFORMANCE
We maintain good working relationships with a wide variety of media representatives to ensure that our voice is also heard on pertinent issues and to help provide information and guidance topics that are related to our areas of expertise. We monitor our performance through regular independent assessments and engagements with the media. Our latest independent assessment, conducted by a leading public opinion research consultancy, suggested that we scored highest among Kenyan companies for prompt and truthful responses to media enquiries. We also held an engagement with the media in January 2017. The main concern raised by members of the media was the large volume of stories emanating from the company and we have since adopted stricter protocols that include more stringent decisions regarding which stores are newsworthy, more targeted pitching of stories, and monthly themes.
‘FAKE NEWS’ A GROWING CHALLENGE
The biggest challenge we faced during the year was the global trend of the emergence and growth of ‘fake news’. The popularity and immediacy of social media has created a medium for unstructured journalism and the publishing of
either unverified information or deliberately misleading stories. The Corporate Communications Department spent approximately 50% of its time and resources monitoring this activity and correcting erroneous information during the year, an increase from around 10% during FY16. In response to this challenge, we have invested in digital scanning and monitoring tools to assist the social media monitoring team in identifying fake news.
Highlights from the year included hosting the successful launch of our Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) integration programme in July 2016 and supporting the national launch of the SDGs in Kenya by the government at Kasarani stadium in September 2016. We are delighted to report that these events, combined with the launch of our annual Sustainability Report in November 2016 and The B Team – Africa in February 2017, appear to have established us as thought leaders on the SDGs and sustainability and we are regularly approached by the media for information and interviews with our CEO on the subject.
Another highlight from the year was the Safaricom Business Journalist Fellowship Programme. Now in its third year, the programme has become an established part of the curriculum at Strathmore Business School and 15 journalists received comprehensive training from international professors during the year. Designed to help ensure that standards of business journalism in Kenya remain as high as possible, the programme enables journalists to develop the analytical skills needed not only to connect the dots across a wide range of complicated topics, but also to produce impactful journalism that sets them apart.