A Public Relations Campaign for Rwanda
(5 pages of text)
On February 5, 2012, the founder of McDonald Kinley Emerson, a consultancy in Toronto, Canada, was asked to give a talk about country branding. She decided to focus on the efforts of Racepoint, a U.S. marketing services agency, to reshape the image of Rwanda. As it attempted to shift perceptions of the country from war-torn and chaotic, Racepoint’s campaign attracted controversy amid allegations that wrongdoings were being glossed over in favour of a tourist- and business-friendly image. In August 2011, the publication of documents outlining the contractual agreement between Racepoint and the current Rwandan government sparked scrutiny of the government’s perceived remaking of the country’s image. Can a country overcome its reputation for genocide and violence? Should countries actively use public relations tactics to change or reinforce their reputations in the same way that corporations do?
This case is intended for MBA or undergraduate students with an interest in public relations, reputation management and strategic public relations communications. Its objectives are:
- To explore the Hexagon of Competitive Identity and/or the dimensions of nation branding personality.
- To learn how countries manage their public reputations, especially when there are opposing views about their rebuilding efforts.
- To illustrate the challenges — ethical and practical — faced by a public relations firm in carrying out its mandate.
Rwanda; United States, 2009
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