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“There is no such thing as bad publicity ” P.T Barnum : A Case of The Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards

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We as a city have long been known as having a negative attitude towards our own initiatives. Narrating previous events and occurrences from the past decades would be a waste of data bundles, but recently the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards have had their boat rocked from all angles. From nominees dropping out of the event to organisers being blamed for treating the award ceremony as their personal entity and not for the industry, the awards have this year been hit hard by controversial issues.

Like most organisations, bad publicity is a scar that the Award ceremony would not want to have at this early stage. However when it is there and it is not erasable thus they have to deal with it and move on. The objective at the end of the day is to generate enough publicity whether good or bad. Once you attract big guns towards your cause know that you are a force to be reckoned with and the brand has grown.

There are many people that have been faced with negative publicity but have been able to rise from the ashes and create recognisable names and brands. A good example being Pokello Nare. Who today can throw the sex-tape stone without being ridiculed and being labeled a straight hater of progress and success? She has gone on to create an undeniably prestigious and elegant brand that has withstood all petty slander.

All the negative vibes (whether fact or speculation) can be used to steer the ship in the right direction. Imagine how many NEW people the Oskido “snub” attracted to the awards. A good and clever PR team would have simply rode on the wave and ensured that this new market is tapped into and converted into potential attendees of the event. Publicity whether good or bad is just an avenue of making sales especially if you are relatively unknown or still starting off.

Organisers of the event need to make the ceremony more open and involve the general public as stakeholders. A mobile voting/information van would have been ideal to engage people who are not active on social media and do not have access to the internet and the city centre.

Locals would know more about the Roil BAAs and the awards would have been the talk of the townships and other neglected/peripheral markets. Thus we would not need any “foreigner’s” endorsement for the awards to carry weight because they would be for the people by the people.

Having a concrete media buy-in is another way the Awards can and should be improved on. Calling a press conference and buying booze with the hope of getting a good story will only get you a once off ticket. Investing your time and resources in sharing your vision with the media is more ideal. The city needs a shared vision and that is what is lacking currently as we are all pulling in different directions hoping to get to the same destination.

The Roil BAA organisers need to put their house in order where they are at fault and demystify what is not factual. The awards are a good idea and do not deserve to be shot down without trying to rectify the errors that are easily fixed.

Take a leaf from the Nando’s advertisement book, those guys are nothing besides brilliant in turning any negative story to their advantage!