Maryann Michuki decamps from Safaricom to Philips  

Safaricom’s digital and social media manager Maryann Michuki is leaving the company which she’s been part of since April "Read more"

Politicians and those they follow…on Twitter

You are only as good as the company you keep, so the saying goes. And we can take it further "Read more"

Scramble for right talent, battle for new IT clients...that's Kenya's PR firms

That title to me captures the current on-goings at Kenya’s PR agencies. It seems the competition for new clients "Read more"

Buyouts and consolidation of IT firms set to hurt Kenya's PR agencies

When a new IT firm sets up operations in Kenya, we all rejoice. It means jobs – both formal "Read more"

Mobile users urged to maximize use of applications to improve lives

Mobile phone users have been urged to maximize the use of their gadgets by employing various applications to manage "Read more"

Maryann Michuki decamps from Safaricom to Philips  

Maryann Michuki.

Maryann Michuki.

Safaricom’s digital and social media manager Maryann Michuki is leaving the company which she’s been part of since April 2009 to join Philips.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms Michuki joined the telco in April 2009 as a marketing communications assistant before assuming the role of digital assets manager one year later. In May 2011, she was appointed to her current position whose duties involves developing and implementing integrated digital strategies, management of Safaricom’s digital assets to ensure consistency and alignment of the brand image as well as championing the use of digital and social media to promote and enhance brand equity.

Those in the know say that she’s just serving her leave before moving to her new role at Philips.

Prior to Safaricom, Ms Michuki had a short stint at GlaxoSmithKline as an intern.

Posted on by Michael Ouma in News Leave a comment

Politicians and those they follow…on Twitter

IwontYou are only as good as the company you keep, so the saying goes. And we can take it further and add that you’re as good as the stuff you read or in this era of social media, you’re defined by who you follow on Twitter.

So, zeroing in on the Twitter bit, I decided to check and see who the global “who-is-who” follows on Twitter, for to be followed by a world-renowned entrepreneur or businesses person, politician, innovator or any kind of celebrity is a mark of approval: that they value your opinion, and want to keep tabs on its by following your handle.

I then started looking at tech innovators and stumbled upon Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s handle -@MarkZuckerbergF. Since joining the social site in 2010, Zuckerberg has only found 3 accounts worth following, that’s Facebook Developers (@fbplatform); Noticias sobre FB (@FB_noticias) and and Facebook’s official account – @facebook. Within this time, the Facebook founder has attracted massed 61,500 followers despite only sending 5 tweets.

His most memeorable tweet – sent on October 16, 2010 – was: “Hello Twitter-Land, as well as tweeting on twitter, Don’t forget to Friend Up with your friends on Facebook !!” It received over 100 retweets.

Then I came down to our politicians, and started checking the people they follow on Twitter, just to gauge the kind of people whose opinions they respect or listen to.

So here goes our selection of the country’s top political leaders and the people they follow on Twitter:

@UKenyatta: Many people believe the account is not handled by the President personally but by the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU). However, the 96 people the PSCU team has decided to follow is an important pointer. Among these are other heads of state, heads of UN bodies and other global organizations, local politicians as well as other government agencies. Apart from local politicians, the President follows a number of journalists including Dennis Okari (@DennisOkari), Emmanuel Juma (@EmmanuelJuma1), Peter Opondo (@PeterOpondo), Anita Nderu (@AnitaNderu), Francis Gachuri (@Fchurii), Cynthia Nyamai (@CynthiaNyamai), Evelyn Wambui (@EvelynWambui), Ramah Nyang (@Ramah_Nyang), Terryanne Chebet (@TerryanneChebet) and John-Allan Namu (@johnallannamu) among others.

@WilliamSRuto: The Deputy President, just like the President, doesn’t follow people liberally, going by the total number of accounts followed currently at 76. Just like the President, he also follows a number of heads of government and global organizations as well as local political leaders. However, unlike the President, the DP follows more news organisations’ Twitter accounts than individual journalists. These include The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya), K24 TV (@K24Tv), KTN (@KTNKenya), NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya), Citizen TV News (@CitizenTVNews) and KBCChannel1 (@KBCChannel1).

@RailaOdinga: The former PM is more liberal when it comes to following accounts on Twitter, going by the total number of those followed which currently stands at 141. The account follows people in both Government and Opposition, most notable among this being the Deputy President William Samoei Ruto (@WilliamsRuto), Najib Balala (@tunajibu) and Sakaja Johnson *245# (@SakajaJohnson).

@Justinmuturi: The Speaker of the National Assembly’s Twitter handle is the most interesting- despite having 255 followers, he follows only one account (@NelsonMandela) and is yet to post any tweet

@MutahiNgunyi: He makes this list not because he’s a politician but because of his controversial political opinions. Despite being among the most followed accounts in Kenya, he only follows 3 others people, all journalists – that is John-Allan Namu (@johnallannamu), Asha Mwilu (@ashamwilu) and Jeff Koinange MBS (@KoinangeJeff).

Posted on by Michael Ouma in Analysis & Features Leave a comment

Scramble for right talent, battle for new IT clients…that’s Kenya’s PR firms

battleThat title to me captures the current on-goings at Kenya’s PR agencies. It seems the competition for new clients is still as cut-throat as always. Then there is the bitter war for the right people with the required talent and skill sets to service the clients, once the new accounts have come on board.

Let’s start with the scramble for new IT and tech accounts, as the lucrative fees they pay as retainer at the end of each month is what is basically used to pay the attractive salaries for the human resource servicing them.

Finally and eventually, the Samsung account has left the grip of Alfred Ng’ang’a – the PR industry old-hand who handled this consumer electronics account for as long as I can remember, at times even moving with the account as he changed employers.  That goes to show how the Samsung office here trusted and believed in his ability to handle the brand as a person.

Alfred handled Samsung while at MediaEdge before and even after the merger with RedHouse Group. He’s since left RedHouse and moved back to Ogilvy.

The reportedly lucrative Samsung account has moved to Gina Din Group, which also handles other IT-related brands notably Orange Kenya, Zuku, Tracom and most recently ZTE, which they serviced for 3 months. Gina Din Group’s contract with ZTE has Chinese tech vendor may be looking to sign a new agency.

Before Samsung was won by Gina Din, it was briefly held by Transcend Media which even handled the launch the Galaxy S 5 in Kenya.

Away from brands and moving to the hunt for talent, there have been two notable changes – Rodgers Wabito has left H+K Strategies for Tell-Em PR where it’s rumoured he’ll be in-charge of all the ICT-related accounts while Washington Akumu (who moved back to his editor job at Nation Media Group after a brief stint at Safaricom’s communications unit) has joined RedHouse group as an account director.

Tell-Em has various key IT clients that can keep Wabito occupied including Ericsson, Asus, Microsoft, Intel, SAP and Oracle. He should be upto the task as he’s also a PR industry veteran who’s previously handled Safaricom, Nokia and Epson just to name but a few.

Posted on by Michael Ouma in Tech&PR Leave a comment

Buyouts and consolidation of IT firms set to hurt Kenya’s PR agencies

yumobileWhen a new IT firm sets up operations in Kenya, we all rejoice. It means jobs – both formal and informal – as well as taxes to the government.

Apart from direct and indirect jobs created, the other industry that is always keen to see new IT firms get into the country is the PR industry. For if the new entrant is an established and ambitious firm with a vision to become a key player in the sector, sooner or later it hires a PR firm to take care of its media and overall communication issues so that it projects an excellent image as well as reputation to the public.

Let us begin by looking at the large telecoms. When Safaricom set up here in 1999, it did not take long before the firm contracted Gina Din Corporate Communications to handle its PR. Airtel Kenya has since setting operations here been handled by ZK Advertising and Scanad with Orange’s external communications and media relations being handled by Ogilvy as well as Gina Din. Essar Telecom’s yuMobile has been handled by BluePrint (an Ogilvy affiliate) and SilverBullet, part of the Young&Rubicam stable.

That is why the recent announcement that yuMobile is set to be sold piecemeal to Safaricom and Airtel Kenya has definitely left a sour taste in the mouths of those who are keen on PR industry issues. The sale means that yuMobile’s current PR agency – SilverBullet – will be an account less when the deal is finally concluded.

Going further back, I’m sure many still remember that Kenya Data Networks (KDN) was for long handled by Corporate Talk before Liquid Telecom came knocking. After the conclusion of the buyout, Corporate Talk lost the account.

Over a year since the rebranding, Liquid Telecom is yet to appoint a PR agency, with some not-very-pleasant rumours doing the rounds that the firm’s top management ( 2 senior male staff members) have decided to instead register a PR outfit then outsource (or single source, depends on how you look at it) the communications function to this new outfit. This will eventually mean loss of this account to the country’s PR industry.

The other local IT firm that has been bought and is yet to appoint a PR agency is Access Kenya whose acquisition by South Africa’s Dimension Data has finally been concluded. Access Kenya never had an external PR firm handling its communications matters while Dimension Data was for long handled locally by Africa Practise. That’s why now the deal has successfully gone through, you can be sure that many of the country’s major PR outfits will be keen to pitch for the Access Kenya business once the firm gives an indication that it needs such services.

Then there is the case of Microsoft and Nokia. From April this year, Microsoft is set to take over the Nokia brand. Now locally, Mirosoft is currently handled by Tell-Em PR while Nokia (devices) together with Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) are handled by H+K Strategies.

This takeover of the Nokia brand by Microsoft will definitely see the former’s account move from H+K to Tel-Em, with H+K only being left with NSN, the infrastructure side of the Finnish firm that was not sold to Microsoft. In a nutshell, SilverBullet and H+K are set to lose PR accounts due to acquisitions and consolidation. We are waiting to see how the Orange Kenya story turns out…

Posted on by Michael Ouma in Analysis & Features Leave a comment

Mobile users urged to maximize use of applications to improve lives

EyeBall's Marketing's Martin Muli, organiser of the Digital Fair.

EyeBall’s Marketing’s Martin Muli, organiser of the Digital Fair.

Mobile phone users have been urged to maximize the use of their gadgets by employing various applications to manage information and small and medium scale enterprises.

Mobile device manufacturer Tecno’s  head of marketing, Gloria Anampiu, says the 3G network services being rolled out by mobile service providers provide opportunity for users to employ more digital applications in their daily lives.

Anampiu said the 3G networks create opportunity  for feature phone users to move to the next segment of internet and smart phones.

Amanpiu who spoke during the Naiobi Digital Fair, where various companies and individual techies showcased latest ICT innovations, said Tecno will facilitate the growth of digital applications by providing the latest technology to mobile phone users at attractive prices.

“Tecno is well placed to be part of the growth process in the ICT sector by offering mobile gadgets loaded with advanced specifications,” she says.

She urged local mobile apps developers to work with device manufacturers so that their applications can be embedded on phones at the production stage.

“Kenya has a wealth of talent in the apps development sector and the fact that the apps are being designed to provide solutions for day to day challenges makes it easier for them to sell the idea of embedding the apps on the phone at the factory,” says Amanpiu.

The Organisers of the expo, whose theme was Powering the Digital Future said the event will become an annual event and extend to other countries within East Africa.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, the organizer Eyeball CEO Mr Matin Muli announced next year’s fair will focus on innovations.

Muli said although there has been a high growth in applications development in the country, their benefits are yet to penetrate the economy due to lack of awareness and limited access among Kenyans.

He said poor consumer culture and inappropriateness of some of the innovations are barriers to their adoption, especially among the poor.

“Digital technologies can only impact the lives of individuals in the society if they offer appropriate solutions to problems and are easily available for use at affordable prices,” said Muli.

Posted on by Michael Ouma in News Leave a comment
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