Kenya’s PR practitioners elect new officials to lobby for legislative recognition




Members of the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) have elected new officials for the position of President, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary in their recently concluded Annual General Meeting. The newly elected team will be joining other Council Members to advocate and lobby for the enactment of the Institute of Public Relations and Communications Management (IPRAC) Bill into law. 

During the Society’s AGM, Arik Karani from the Wikimedia Foundation was elected President taking over the mantle from Dr. Wilfred Marube, the CEO of the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency. Lafarge’s Viviene Atieno was elected Assistant Secretary, while Samuel Karanja from Hill + Knowlton Strategies was elected as Treasurer. 

(TOP: From left, Tony Timase; the incoming Assistant Secretary Viviene Atieno; PRSK President Arik Karani; and Secretary, Noella Mutanda, pose for a photo during the PRSK AGM at The Sarova Panafric). 

Speaking during the handover ceremony that was held in Nairobi, the outgoing President, Dr. Marube stated: “As I hand over the leadership to Mr. Karani, I am confident that he will steer the PRSK ship to greatness and finally deliver the long-awaited legislation.” 

While receiving the mantle, the current President, Arik Karani stated that the society has been at the forefront of enhancing professionalism, respect and standards in the PR and Communications industry in Kenya and that this journey will not stop. “It is my vision to push for the legislation of PRSK from a Society into an institution so that we can enhance the delivery of professional public relations services in Kenya. Our members are yearning for the passage of the Institute of Public Relations and Communication Management (IPRAC) Bill into law. Together with the Council, I will evaluate the best approaches to professionalize and standardize the industry,” stated Karani. 

In a statement from Dublin, Ireland, the President and CEO of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management (GA), the confederation of the world’s PR and communication associations, institutions and academics in the world, Justin Green, expressed his delight at the appointment of Karani terming it a “Gamechanger” in the PR and Communications landscape in Kenya and in Africa. “With Mr. Karani’s global network and vast experience, Kenya will be at the forefront of leading and shaping Africa’s PR and Communications narrative. He is a fierce, creative, and innovative leader,” he added. 

Green also urged the Kenyan law makers, and the Ministry of ICT, to support the enactment of the proposed Institute of Public Relations and Communication Management draft bill when it is tabled in Parliament. He pledged to work with Karani and PRSK to strengthen the communication industry in Kenya and Africa through innovative solutions. 

Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, the President of the Africa Public Relations Association (APRA) also issued a statement that said: “The African Public Relations Association (APRA) is most delighted with the election of Arik Karani as the President of PRSK. His vast knowledge and innovative experience will not only be valuable to Kenya, but indeed the entire African Public Relations fraternity. We wish him and other elected officials a most successful tenure and look forward to working them in advancing the cause of the profession on the continent.” 

The newly elected leaders will be joining other Council members, Patricia Odede (VP), Noella Mutanda (Secretary), Tim Kamuzu Banda (Council Member), Jesse Masaai (Council Member) and Paul Oyier (Council Member). It is expected that the leadership will support the current CEO, Sylvia Mwichuli, to roll out the certification Programme that will be offered in partnership with KASNEB. This will be the first milestone for the new crop of leadership.

In Kenya, PRSK, with more than 3000 members, was established in 1971 and serves as the umbrella professional body guiding PR practice in Kenya. The Society broadly seeks to advance excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management in Kenya and to ensure that the practice continues to thrive within the ethical framework defined by the profession. Within the East African Region, PRSK is a member of the East African Public Relations Association (EAPRA). PRSK is also a member of the Africa Public Relations Association (APRA), the continental body for all PR national associations in Africa.  At the global level, PRSK is a founder member of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management (GA) among other global bodies such as the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management is the confederation of the world’s major PR and communication management associations and institutions, representing over 320,000 practitioners and academics around the world. 

The Global Alliance relies on the efforts of communication professionals to tackle common problems with a global perspective. By partnering with regional, national and international bodies to increase professionalism in public relations and communication management, this Alliance works to enhance the collaborative professionalism of the industry among its constituents around the world.

 The African Public Relations Association (APRA) is the successor organisation to the Federation of African Public Relations Associations (FAPRA) that was inaugurated in 1975 in Nairobi, Kenya to foster unity via interaction and exchange of ideas amongst public relations practitioners in Africa as a whole. 

It’s primary purpose is to help in creating an enabling professional environment for accurate perception, goodwill and understanding of necessary and effective performance of Public Relations practice in Africa. As an association of professionals, we firmly believe in the promotion of African Unity even as we strive for the growth of our noble profession on the African continent and also the global frontier

The incoming PRSK President, Arik Karani, serves as the Lead Communication Specialist at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that hosts Wikipedia, Wikidata and other free knowledge projects. While shaping and leading community resilience and sustainability, and trust and safety communications, he works to enable spaces in which people can freely and equitably share in the sum of human knowledge in more than 300 languages. 

With over 16 years’ experience in corporate communications, Arik Karani has advised governments, civil society, NGOs, and the private sector on the fields of stakeholder engagement, digital strategy, disinformation and information technologies, foreign influence on social media, crisis communication, and strategic planning. 

Prior to joining the Wikimedia Foundation, he worked at the World Bank Group, leading communication efforts on trans-boundary waters in Africa. While at the World Bank Group, he identified and captured key information, lessons, best practices, case studies and industry insights; using them to produce insightful and captivating content for a variety of channels and audiences across Africa. This raised the profile, visibility and reputation of the multi-donor trust fund, Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) program.

He has previously worked with the Government of Kenya (Athi Water), managing communication programs for five development partners with a portfolio base of $380 Million. These partners include the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Badea, KfW and AFD. He has also had the opportunity to work with Child Fund, and Amref Health Africa.

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