Top 6 Ugandan PR Scandals that rocked the month of July

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Ugandan things
Tags: , , , ,

Uganda’s PR fraternity witnessed extraordinary crises in July. These PR crises dominated traditional and social media. More PR agencies and organizations have taken up crisis management as a pivotal function of PR to build and save reputations. Different organization managed their crises head on. Be proactive. Bad PR can sink a company that has huge revenues. Below are insights into Ugandan PR crises that dominated the month of July.
1. NBS TV social media blunder
NBS TV apologized for an error on their Facebook wall. NBS posted “Police has asked terrorists to stay calm and continue with their plans of touring Rwenzori region; the area is safe and secure” instead of “Police has asked tourists to stay calm and continue with their plans of touring Rwenzori region, the area is safe and secure”. Though NBS apologized and issued a clarity statement which was a good move, they acted too fast. It had not actually gone viral. They could simply use the edit button as soon as they noticed the problem. NBS over reacted which still increased the level of damage to their brand. The gesture of taking it down is what counts. Everyone else who does social media prayed to the Social media gods that they would never make a similar mistake.

New Picture

2 Air Uganda Aviation crisis
On June 17th 2014, Uganda’s air transport industry managers Civil Aviation Authority withdrew Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Air Uganda over safety concerns sparking off an aviation crisis. Air Uganda suspended their operations and returned their leased aircraft.CAA permitted other Airlines to start picking up passengers from Entebbe and taking them to destinations they have not flown before. This was asign of good will from the regulator to affected Ugandan travellers.CAA never anticipated being engulfed in a PR crisis in the court of public opinion which damaged their reputation. Air Uganda had many loyal customers resulting from their brand goodwill, flexible and affordable services. The reaction from prominent politicians, the general public, and Business community was a total surprise to everyone. Air Uganda became the victim. Air Uganda was the little David against goliath (regulator) generating negative publicity. The CAA got out of negative publicity valley by doing more media interviews and public notices.CAA reassured the public that it conducts rigorous certification process to international air operators which, if fully complied with, would ensure safe operations.

3 Celebrity Nude pictures.
Many local musicians featured high on list of leaked nude pictures. These nude or semi nude pictures also went viral on social media and were a topic of discussion by Mary Luswata of scoop of scoop on Urban TV. Nude pictures also made it to front pages of tabloids. It is an effective Pr Stunt that worked for some celebrities to revive their careers in Europe but it has no place in the African culture. Musicians Margala and Brenda Nambi were the highlights of the month. Nude pictures generally pass as a PR crisis on African moral standards. Celebrities acted fast to defend or explain the pictures which was a good PR move.
4 Closure of Global Trust bank.
DFCU took over Global Trust Bank Operations after Bank of Uganda revoked its license as a financial institution and ordered the winding up of its affairs on July 25. It took everyone by surprise This was a dent on the reputation of Global Trust Bank. Bank of Uganda should be credited for taking action after it had a solution to deal with likely inconveniences that may have been faced by Global Trust Bank clients. Warning of closure one or months in advance could have caused more panic and attracted negative publicity for Bank of Uganda and Global Trust Bank.BOU moved fast to communicate heavily through all media which was good. Bank of Uganda reassures the public that it will continue to protect depositor’s interest and maintain the stability of the financial sector. Global Trust bank Shareholders have since issued a public notice refereeing to the incident as unfortunate since it was highly liquid, with Treasury bill holdings of shs 43 billion another Inter-bank Placements of ushs 5billion.
5 Rumours about crane Bank financial scandal.
Rumours spread online about USD 18million theft from Crane Bank by its senior employees. Crane Bank moved first to dismiss rumours as unfounded. Crises spread ten times faster now due to the Internet. Corporations must respond within hours. Crane Bank’s Managing Director A. Kalan failure to speak out on allegations that billions of shillings were lost under his management prolongs the crisis. The Bank assured its customers that their deposits are safe and that there was no fraud committed by Kalan, several opinion leaders have urged Kalan to break the silence on the matter to clear the doubt. It is a not worse since Bank of Uganda has not picked interest in the case. The Event affected the bank’s reputation and increases panic among customers. Customers want to know whether it will happen again or is it long term damage. In this day and age the public expects everything to happen faster. You need to respond as quickly as possible while ensuring your response is measured and the right one. What could have been a terrible PR disaster can rapidly resolved with the customer and proper steps.
6. KCCA closes Tuskys Bwaise branch over rotten meat
KCCA Health officials found spoilt meat and chicken inTuskys Bwaise Supermarket and closed it. Other five Tuskys stores in Uganda have since been cleared by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) following a health inspection that was triggered by the discovery of rotten meat on sale in one of its outlets. The closed store was to comply with KCCA’s health standards before being cleared to re-open. Tuskys Bwaise was allegedly found using a toxic chemical, sodium benzoate, to preserve the fresh meat, which was a health hazard to customers.

Disclaimer. This article strictly offers academic insight meant to create awareness about crisis communication management in Uganda. Therefore it should be used for educational purposes and not viewed as an attack on institutions or individuals. It offers a professional PR insight into Crisis management in Uganda which is still a young profession. I hope that Lessons shared can better the PR fraternity in Uganda. The writer assumes no responsibility for contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
Ivan N. Baliboola
PR practitioner and member of PRAU


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