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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

Survey Findings:
Businesses and
media interaction in
Rwanda
Collins Mwai Surveys

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

1.0 Introduction:
Does the Rwanda media adequately cover local businesses and corporations? Do local
businesses issues, developments, concerns and tribulations make it to the local headlines?
Is it adequate? What could improve coverage?

With the exemption of the finance sector, Rwandan enterprises do not receive as much
unpaid media coverage as their counterparts in the East African region.
Developments in the local private sector ranging from mergers, acquisitions, new
products, have minimal unpaid media coverage.

Is it that local media outlets do not find the content newsworthy? Is it that they do not
adequate understanding of local businesses and have limited skills in to feature them? Is it
for lack of demand from their audiences?

Collins Mwai Surveys, a local research consultancy


Collins Mwai Surveys, a local research consultancy conducted a survey
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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

2.0 Summary
This is the first edition of public published research findings on the media-corporate
relationship by Collins Mwai surveys but not the first study on the topic.

Previous studies have been private studies for specific firms on a range of aspects
including customer satisfaction, stakeholder appraisal, Members’ appraisal, Market
Research, perception surveys among others.
The findings from the study would be useful to businesses and corporations operating in
Rwanda looking to increase their media coverage, balance between paid and unpaid
coverage or simply looking to understand trends on their media coverage over time.
Though the study was done on a businesses’/ corporates’ perspective, it could benefit
some non-governmental organizations and development partners working in Rwanda

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

3.0 Research objectives


3.1 General objectives

The overall objective of the study was to gain an understanding of the relationship
between the private sector entities and the local media. This will give insights to the
reasons for the kind of coverage of local businesses across the local media; print, online,
radio and television.

3.2 Specific Objectives

 Document the perceived openness of the local private sector players in regards to
availing information to the media

 Map out existing avenues of media, corporate interaction.

 Review major challenges in the media-corporate interactions in the country

 Identify potential avenues to establish closer partnerships between media and local
corporates

4.0 Assumptions
From both general and specific objectives of the study that gave rise to the findings
contained in this report, there is an underlying assumption that the media has the
responsibility to report and cover the business environment and even influence it.
This assumption is also reinforced by the assumed primary role of the media which is, in
part, to inform and educate the general public about what is going on in their
communities and nation.
The other hypothesis is “influence theory” in regards to the media which assumes the
media shapes policies, agenda, approaches and directives of governments and businesses.
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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

5.0 Methodology:
5.1 Questionnaire

To collect quality quantitative data, a questionnaire was developed and administered to the
sampled population. The questionnaires were disseminated electronically to over 200
Rwandan journalists.

Initial studies and previous studies had shown that studies have between 65 to 70 per cent
response rate.

The survey had had about 74 per cent response rate.

The sampled population comprised journalists from print, online, radio and television outlets
as well as former experienced members of profession. A similar questionnaire was applied
considering that audience was a general one.

5.2 Document analysis

This involved reviewing and analyzing existing literature, studies and data on media coverage,
media development assessment, sector landscape reports and research reports.

5.3 Content Analysis

This involved reviewing and analyzing media content in local media outlets i.e newspapers,
magazines, online platforms, radio and television stations.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

A template was developed as a guideline to identifying aspects of consideration in the analysis


the content on the various platforms. This gave valuable insights such as frequency of local
businesses coverage, comprehension of subject, follow-ups, quality of analysis and trends
among others. The content analysis was done in October and November 2017.

5.4 Informant interviews

Informant interviews are can be defined as organized conversations with people who can be
considered to have specialized knowledge about the topic under research.

Though questionnaires, provide valid and reliable data about the research topic, they may not
always be able to objectively provide sufficient insights. To have better understanding there is
need for selected experts’ inputs.
In this case, it was experienced media professionals, especially those who have been in the
industry over a long period of time to see its evolution as well as those who have worked in
other markets. 16 informant interviews were conducted in the period of the study.

5.5 Quality Control measure

Quality and reliable information was expected from this survey and a number of
quality control measures were deployed.
This included basing the study on scientific methodology in all aspects including
data gathering and interpretation, triangulation for data validity and verification,
data cleaning exercise among others.

5.6 Ethics
All sources involved in the study were guaranteed anonymity.
There is no plagiarism of any sort in the study or its findings.
Consent from all respondents to use their feedback for the study was requested
and granted.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.0 Findings
6.1 General media openness.

Coverage of enterprises or businesses depends on the openness and approachability of the


subject.
In the case of Rwandan businesses and establishments, 45.5% of the interviewees feel that
local private sector entities can do better to build ties with journalists to increase their
coverage.
27.3 % of respondents are of the opinion that businesses fear local media and treat them with
suspicion.

18.2 % feel that the business only relates well to the press when they need coverage or when
they are running specific campaigns.

Only 9.1 per cent of respondents find the business to be open for coverage.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.2 Business systems and mechanisms in addressing media requests


and interviews

The quality of interaction of between the two entities largely depends on the existence of
systems and mechanisms outlining clear channels of interactions.
A significant majority of local journalists 63.8 % say that corporations and businesses deal with
media queries and requests as they deem as per the situation. These they say often leads to
instances of ignoring media queries and poor interaction.
36.4 % of respondents note that a majority of local businesses also lack systematic laid out
approaches of dealing with media interactions. This most attributed to lack of an
understanding of the importance of media relations and media engagement.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.3 Attempts by business to influence coverage in local media using


incentives, gifts and bribes.

On whether business often try to get coverage from local media using gifts and bribes, 30 % of
journalists say that a few businesses have made attempts to influence from time to time.

Another 30 % of the respondents’ note that offers of bribes or incentives depends on the kind
of coverage the businesses are seeking. Finer investigations showed that bribes and incentives
are common when businesses are attempting to promote advertorial-like content on their
latest products and services.
20 % of the respondents say that bribes and incentives are common while another 20 %
denied the existence of such practices.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.4 What gets in the way of interactions between media and businesses in
Rwanda?

In regards to the main hindrances to ideal relations between the two entities 36.4 % of
respondents feel that there is a general lack of adequate understanding of on how the media
works by a large section of corporates.

Another 36.4 % of respondents say that businesses lack clear and systematic approaches
outlining media interactions and dealing with media queries.

27.3 per cent of respondents felt that there is lacking professionalism among media relations
and communications officers.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.5 Does lacking media relations and interactions affect the reputation
and image of brands (among the general public)

On whether Rwandan brands image have suffered for failing to work closely with the media,
54.5 per cent of interviewed journalists say that it is an opportunity that has not been well
exploited over the years. 27.3 per cent of respondents feel that brands lack of close relations
with the media sector has hindered their chance to become popular among the general public.

9.1 per cent of respondents are of the opinion that the status quo has not led brands to suffer
in any way while another 9.1 per cent say that it is likely to hurt local brands in the long run.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.6 What would improve relations and quality of interactions between


media and private sector?

According to the findings, 27.3 % of respondents say that increased openness and timely
responses to media queries would greatly improve relations between the two sectors. 18.2 %
of the respondents say that qualified public relations managers/officers would greatly improve
relations and quality of interactions.

9.1 % of the interviewees feel that the relations can be improved by having less bureaucracies
in handling media queries and questions and having clear outlined channels of interactions.

A majority of 45.5 % of interviewed journalists say that all the above three measures would
serve to improve relations and quality of interactions between the media and Rwandan based
businesses.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.7 Advertisements influence on objectivity

54.5 % of the interviewed journalists say that it is very possible and practical to keep a fine line
between advertisements and journalistic content when media covers businesses who
advertise with them.

27.3 % of the respondents say that advertisements by businesses definitely get in the way of
objective reporting and journalistic content when the advertisers are covered by media.

9.1 % of the respondents say that journalists are the first to break the professional relationship
between the two sectors when advertisements are involved while another 9.1 % of
respondents say that both parties are to blame for unprofessionalism when advertisements
are involved.
Unprofessionalism in this case refers to instances when the media cannot report objectively
when covering specific firms that advertise with them.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

6.8 Role of agencies and advertising firms as a go between media and


Rwandan based businesses

With a local businesses increasingly outsourcing media relations and related services to
communication agencies, 40 % of the interviewed journalists say that it has greatly improved
the quality and outcome of relations between businesses and media.

30% of the subjects say that there has not been much change as a result employing services of
communication agencies while another 30 % say that they are not sure of the impact of
embracing agencies.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

7.0 Conclusion and Recommendations


7.1 Conclusions:
As evident from the findings, the local media perceives that Rwandan based businesses
generally lack openness in regards to coverage. Top reasons include lack of an understanding
or interest in tapping into an opportunity of using the media to increase the penetration of
their brands.
Local firms were found to be missing out on an opportunity to increase their brands’
penetration by failing to boost the quality of their relationship with local media beyond
advertisements.

From the responses there is also a general shortcoming in regards to having a clearly set
approach of dealing with media requests and interactions.
This in turn creates instances whereby media queries and requests are not given adequate
attention by the firms.

For instance, journalists interviewed explained that in most instances they have to reach Chief
Executive Officers for comments as they are the only ones authorized to speak on behalf of
their firms even on technical matters.

There is also a general lack of understanding or ignorance of how the media works hence the
wanting interactions. For instance, journalists said that there is little regard of aspects such as
deadlines, low quality responses to queries among others.

Bribery and related attempts to influence coverage happens but is not very common among
private sector members.

Firms that work with communication agencies to handle their media requests are not
necessarily guaranteed to have better quality interactions with the media.
The difference factor is created depending on the quality of the firms and its approach in
creating avenues of interactions with journalists.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

7.2 Recommendations:
The below recommendations are derived from the survey findings with an aim to show windows and
opportunities to increase the quality of interactions and relations between the local businesses and
the local media.

 It is clear that the level of interaction between the two entities is somewhat wanting. To
improve it, firms should make attempts to understand the media landscape and operations to
get increased and quality coverage. This will eliminate the suspicion between the two parties
as well as enable distinguishing between professional and non-professional media outlets.
 Business should have laid out and systematic approaches of dealing with media inquiries and
interactions. This should among other aspects include spokesperson (other than CEO),
turnaround time, media briefs and media packages. The approach could also outline avenues
for interaction that may not necessarily lead to content or coverage. For instance, firms could
identify weaknesses within media coverage of certain topics and offer training in the aspect.
 In the event firms are outsourcing to communication agencies to handle their communications,
the terms of reference should provide timely, insightful and quality interactions between the
firm and media. For instance, the TORs should include media activation, media landscape
assessment, media engagement strategy among others.
 Communication officers/Managers of the various business ought to do more than just waiting
for media queries and sending out press releases. Their tasks and responsibilities can include
aspects such studying media landscape, finding out opportunities of cooperation with specific
media outlets for a win-win partnership, finding windows for coverage such as commentating
on sector developments among others.
 Firms should look out for windows of featuring in local media beyond product launches
through aspects such as sector development commentating. Realization that advertising solely
on local media is not a sufficient outreach method.
 Have clear terms during of reference during enforcement of advertising contracts to avoid
instances of misunderstanding or over expectation in regards to coverage.

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

8.0 References
 Maynard A. Public and private sector interactions: an economic perspective

 Battaglia, M. Encyclopedia of survey research methods.

 Pax press (2017) Media and policy making in Rwanda

 Bernard, H. R. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches,

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Businesses and media interaction in Rwanda

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