Public relations professionals play critical role in promoting Malawi as investment destination
Public relations professionals have been challenged to reclaim control of the narrative and begin telling a new story about Malawi in order to attract much-needed foreign capital.
Malawi: Public relations professionals have been challenged to reclaim control of the narrative and begin telling a new story about Malawi in order to attract much-needed foreign capital.
Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengere stated this in his keynote address on Thursday at the opening session of the Public Relations Society of Malawi 2022 Lake Conference, which was held at Club Makokola in Mangochi.
According to Kwengere, storytelling as a public relations tool is critical in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), as marketing is no longer about the things you make, but about the stories, you tell.
"As a country, we need to tell our story and start leveraging it to rise above the noise in attracting talent, innovation, and investment. Attracting foreign capital is a necessity rather than a choice," Kwengere said.
He went on to say that it is past time for Malawi to realise that only countries with a high standard of living and significant potential in various business sectors make it onto the investor's radar.
Kwengere acknowledged that all countries are vulnerable to shocks, but was quick to point out that countries with a high level of investment (both public and private) suffer less.
He stated that Malawi is one of the countries that suffer the most from shocks (Russian invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19) due to a lack of investment, corruption, and disparities in governance and accountability.
"We need to start working closely with our media friends to change some of these damaging narratives that have harmed our country's reputation. Investors must be assured that if they come to Malawi, they will find that quality of life. We may be facing challenges, but there are some good things happening that we normally do not discuss," Kwengere said.
He observed that establishing a new operation in another country takes time and a lot of resources, and these decisions are not made on the spur of the moment, but existing perceptions and stereotypes can influence such decisions.
"We need people like you to help us shape a narrative that will increase investor confidence and, eventually, attract foreign capital,” he said.
Kwengere said the increase in the number of countries making systematic efforts to attract FDI has resulted in a much broader range of options for investors, which has heightened cross-country competition for investment capital.
"We have to step up our game." We must be mindful of how much we are letting go of Malawi in the digital space, and this applies not only to you as public relations professionals, but to every Malawian," he said.
"So, as public relations professionals, let us do our part to change those perceptions and begin positioning Malawi as a preferred destination for investors."
He stated that, in addition to other tactics, PR efforts such as the placement of favourable reviews and articles in the public media about our country's key features will help significantly in the creation of favourable investor perceptions and the enhancement of the country's reputation and image.
Speaking at the same event, Public Relations Society of Malawi (PRSM) President Benson Linje stated that the conference provided an excellent opportunity for practitioners to reconsider their role in promoting Malawi's global reputation and competitiveness.
"At a time when Malawi is looking to break into new markets or expand its global reach in order to attract more foreign investments, we should be wary of the image or reputation that precedes us," he said.
Linje was optimistic that the presentations from the invested speaker would be critical in keeping public relations practitioners up to date on key issues surrounding reputation management.
The 2022 PRSM Lake Conference will take place from Thursday to Saturday and will focus on Malawi's global reputation and competitiveness, as well as the role of public relations.