Are Communication Teams for State Officers slipping in Kenya?

Uhuru Kenyatta with students at State House Kenya _ (courtesy ;PSCU )

Social Media Management and Communication Teams Teams for State Officers in Kenya is a green concept.
With the advent of the application of social media platforms to drive state agenda,there has a been a shift in how Communication Teams for State Officers conduct their business.

After Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was sworn into office as Kenya’s fourth president,he set up a Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU) and appointed several directors each in charge of a specific aspect of Presidential Communication.

State Officers Communication Teams chose to concentrate on Facebook and Twitter as the main social media platforms,aside the websites of state institutions.

Let’s use the example of the President and the First Lady.The First Couple Handlers have various Facebook Pages:’State House Kenya,The President Of The Republic of Kenya,PSCU-Digital,PSCU-Diaspora,Uhuru Kenyatta,Office of the First Lady Of Kenya,Office of the Kenyan Government SpokesPerson and Government Of Kenya.On Twitter we have @UhuruKenyatta, @PresidentKE, @StateHouseKenya, @PSCU_Digital, @FirstLadyKenya, @SpokesPersonGOK

Some of the Presidential Handlers like Dennis Itumbi,Eric Ngeno and Munyori Buku (PSCU Directors) use their personal Facebook Accounts and Twitter Accounts to relay official presidential statements.

On July 29,on his Facebook Page:Uhuru Kenyatta posted:”Received instruments of the Jubilee Party which will bring together parties belonging to the Jubilee coalition and our allies. These included our party’s interim constitution, our nomination rules, our election rules and a members’ handbook. Our new organization will uphold democracy and the wish of Kenyans. Through our new party we will unite Kenyans and champion stronger integration of the East African Community. No longer shall we give Kenyans choices based on ethnicity, clanism or religion.”

This cliche approach of communication teams updating the daily presidential schedule with a statement of what the Head Of State did accompanied with an array of 10-20 photographs is an unamusing.Unfortunately,this was picked up by Governors,Senators,MPs,MCAs,County First Ladies,Comissioners ,Cabinet Secretaries,State Officers,Senior Professionals,CEOs among other Senior Citizens in private and public sector.

“Governance by social media” as Juliet Eliperin of The Washington Post calls it, is a structured way of the Politicians and Leaders connecting to the electorate and the citizens.

The valuable exposure of governance by social media is very crucial.When done willy-nilly it gets devalued.
A few weeks ago,between June 29 and July 1 there was a national media bruit that the PSCU had been disbanded.According to a statement by Nzioka Waita,the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the President,the PSCU Directors had been asked to stay away from State House awaiting further directions.Social media was in a frenzy ridiculing ‘the dismissal’ of the directors.

PSCU had fallen out with public confidence for ocassionally attacking opposition leaders and dissenting opinion by channeling out rebuttals that were incoherent and in bad taste.In an instance,they wrote a rebutted an Op-Ed that was carried by the New York Times on Luis Moreno Ocampo and DP Ruto and President Uhuru’s ICC Cases.Many a time,they engaged in a war of words with Opposition Communication Teams.PSCU Director Dennis Itumbi is ocassionally under fire for defending the government position on matters corruption and development even when he lacks facts in argument ocassionally resorting to ad hominem.

Ad hoc communication lacking in merit and structure has muzzled these communication teams.

If you have a peek at @POTUS, @BarackObama, @FLOTUS, @MichelleObama, @TheWhiteHouse on Twitter and President Obama,Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and The White House Pages on Facebook you will see a very endearing approach on digital political media communication.V-logs,Videos,Detailed Statement on varying issues with accompanying digital posters and very few accurate accompanying photographs that keeps you glued to the Page for hours on end.

Extend to YouTube,Google+,SnapChat,Instagram,Tumblr,Flickr and other platforms that the White House Digital Platforms Communication Team are managing and you will be the level of professionalism,competence and allurement of dissemination of messaging.It gets you.You want to keep digging into information and learn and enjoy,That’s what sets them apart.

POTUS Obama plays with a kid


Ocassionally ,Obama directly responds to comments.At one time,he made a comment on Humans Of New York Page.He signs off his own tweets at times.That is how elected leaders continue to connect with citizens.
In Kenya,you will rarely find a leader who manages his own social media account and directly responds to comments on statements.The dynamics of digital and social media are cognizant of the fact that a leader should keep in touch with social media users on a regular basis.

I am waiting for the day Mr Kenyatta will share a video of himself on the State House Lawns playing with pets with a caption detailing the welfare of pets in the country.Forget the endless PR stunts he pulls.

A paradigm shift in social media management and official communication by these teams is essential.

What do you think?


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