Media Relations in sub-Saharan Africa

Public relations is one of those arenas I’ve had my hands in for 25-plus years. Starting with Burson-Marsteller in London (at the time the world’s largest PR firm) and on through managing smaller regional operations, it’s a field that has changed as much as any in the communications industry. For more than a decade we’ve had the pleasure of working with Andy Burness and his team at Burness Communications. With clients like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, they have become national (and dare I say international) leaders in advancing social change for non-profits though public relations and advocacy communications.

I was on the Burness website earlier today checking-up on a client we share and came across some interesting information and images on the work the firm is doing in Africa. Through their office in Nairobi, Kenya, they’ve placed over 1,000 stories in African media in the last five years alone – all supporting health, ag and environmental advancements on the continent. Here’s the link. You’ll also see a link to Burness Africa images on Flickr:


We’re in the midst of design and production of the 2009 Annual Report and Proxy Statement for Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals – our fourth report for the New Jersey-based company. Today we completed a photo shoot in Toronto featuring a cancer patient. Despite some limitations of the location, the shoot was a great success. Our thanks to Evan Dion who we can thoroughly recommend if you ever need a photographer in Ontario.

Last year we did a similar shoot in Texas and used local photographer Darren Carroll who also turned out to be an excellent choice.

Alumni Magazine Readers – A National Survey

CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) revealed some of the core findings of an interesting new survey during the annual CASE District II conference in Philadelphia today. As an aside, the Conference was well attended (despite the snow) and well organized. It was good to see various clients winning 2010 Accolades Awards – congratulations to one and all.

Back to the survey – the CASE Members Magazine Readership Survey, launched in 2009, gives the first comprehensive national data on magazine readers’ habits, likes and dislikes. More than 120 institutions participated in the Web-based research with a total of more than 30,000 readers responding. All results been added to a national database.

In Philadelphia, Tracy Casteuble, Director of Research, CASE, presented the top-line results of the survey and various conclusions about what works – and what doesn’t – with alumni magazine readers. From what I’ve seen of the results so far, I suspect many of the conclusions will affirm our own beliefs built-up from seeing the results of surveys our clients have conducted. However, being able to peg our own smaller surveys against a large national database is significant. We’re looking forward to seeing the complete survey results – available to coincide with the March issue of Currents.

Content Management Systems in Higher Ed

Our friends at Systems Alliance provide technology consulting services to clients including University of Maryland University College, Johns Hopkins Institutions and Conde Nast. While Systems Alliance is perhaps best know for their content management system, SiteExecutive, they continue to be a valuable resource for understanding certain vertical markets. For us, higher education is a prime focus and if that’s an area of interest for you, I’d recommend a survey they conducted of college executives  – respondents identify accepted student websites and better web content for parents as useful tools for enhancing recruitment and enrollment: