The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: How British PR Firm Helped Jubilee Win

THREE days before Uhuru Kenyatta takes his oath of office as the fourth President of Kenya, details are emerging of how two British public relations firms helped Team Uhuru to draw up a winning campaign strategy.

It is now generally agreed that the Uhuru campaign was far more professional than the Raila campaign. The Uhuruto brand was more both more visible and slicker than the Cord presence during the presidential election campaign.

The first unnamed PR company conducted the strategic market research in early 2012 that led to the choice of the dove as the symbol for The National Alliance and the slogan 'I Believe'.

In October Uhuru hired the London-based BTP Advisers to ensure that his campaign publicity pushed the right buttons with the Kenyan public. They focused on giving Uhuru and the TNA a more youthful and technocratic image than Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the ODM.

The services of the first PR firm were terminated in November.

BTP's senior management have close links to the Liberal democrats in the UK.

BTP Advisers, headed by Mark Pursey and Charles Anglin, were part of the team that launched of TNA including its elaborate and expensively assembled launch in May last year at the KICC. "Our political campaigns are designed to elect candidates, change laws and win hearts and minds," says the BTP website.

"We believe that modern campaigning is as much science as it is art. All campaigns should start with a thorough understanding of the needs and concerns of the audience they are addressing. Through robust opinion testing and message development we ensure that our clients know just who it is they are talking to, and what they need to say to get their message through," say BTP.

"Our media know-how means that we can help you navigate your way through the press, while our hands-on experience of ground campaigning from leaflet design to logistics ensures that your field operations reach the right audience," BTP state.

Ed Staite, a former adviser to British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, was appointed to handle the campaign in Kenya. Other BTP advisers who have now been in Kenya for over one year include Simon Waddington, Milan Starcevic, Charlie Tarr and Anuuret Rai.

The BTP local representative is Nana Gecaga. Several BTP representatives were among those invited to a party in March at the Carnivore where Uhuru thanked his campaign teams.

"I am happy to say I have provided media and skills training to the National Alliance Party in Kenya during this year," Staite told The Independent newspaper of London.

Team Uhuru media operative Moses Kuria provided logistical support to the BTP team including identifying meeting venues and introducing them to media and political players.

According to Pursey, they were contracted to offer strategic advice on the election campaign and providing international media relations support since there was enormous amount of international interest in the Kenyan election.

Pursey was the head of the UK Liberal Democrats' national media intelligence unit during the 2010 elections. The BTP media campaign also engaged in an elaborate campaign to monitor online media, especially social media with particular interest in Twitter as well as gathering information on the Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Their brief also involved deflecting negative reports arising from the ICC process on local and international media and playing up issues that favored Uhuru.

BTP Advisers used their local and international networks to present the ICC process as a machination of Western powers and to turn what was initially considered a disadvantage into an advantage for Uhuru.

Their influence was seen in the messaging where Uhuru's campaign team consistently asked foreign nations not to interfere with the elections and the running of the country's affairs.

Pursey and Anglin had frequent and regular contact with Team Uhuru to discuss responses on controversial issues. The firm also prepared briefs on how Team Uhuru should respond to issues. The firm also drafted commentaries and opinion pieces for possible publication locally.

Some articles were written with the assistance of Uhuru's lead counsel at the ICC, Stephen Kay, and were published in international media including The Independent newspaper. BTP has also worked on PR for the Rwandan government and for Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe.

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