Today on Man Around Nairobi we feature Joel Chacha. Joel Chacha is an Account Director at Ogilvy Public Relations. Joel is an award-winning PR practitioner with extensive experience in developing and implementing successful communications and digital strategies for clients across the continent. Having seen the gaps in the industry first hand within the newsroom, Joel ventured into PR with the sole purpose of delivering results-oriented PR strategies and plans tailor made to suit the newsroom needs. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Broadcast Journalism from United States International University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Communication Studies concentrating in Strategic Corporate Communication from the same institution.
- Did you grow up in Nairobi?
Yes, I grew up in Nairobi, Kitale lane, off Dennis Pritt road – for the better part of my childhood. Then we moved to Mountain View in 1998 and in 2002 after my Dad retired from government I moved to Highrise bordering Kibera then later on to Uhuru Estate in Eastlands. I can confidently say that I qualify to vie for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat in future as I understand Nairobi residents’ frustrations from all walks of life. My parents always reiterate that they chose to raise me in the city because they saw it as a privilege, a rite of passage and a town that would challenge and shape me.
What was memorable about my childhood was being able to freely borrow something as little as sugar or salt from the neighbors, I doubt people still do that nowadays! The red phone booth at the entrance of Kitale Lane estate left behind fond memories for majority of the tenants who then had no access to cellular networks. The living room couches – where I redeemed all the coins that I used to gratify my break time needs at school. The entire estate feared the old man that lived in house number 10. We played marbles, hide-and-seek, musical chairs during birthday parties, tag, and chobo ua!
- What do you love about Nairobi?
The variety of tribes and races coming together to create the Nairobi culture – which is very rich and vibrant.
The arrival of new supermarket chains e.g. Carrefour and Game highlights Nairobi’s potential in the retail sector. Consumers don’t have to travel abroad to shop. You need it? Nairobi has it all!
Nairobi offers PR practitioners like myself an array of potential clientele. Its status as a regional business hub and a center for commercial enterprise means more business opportunities for me. Global brands such as IBM, Visa, Coca-Cola, Heineken, United Nation, Bosch, General Electrics, just to name a few are all based here. I mean where else in Africa would you get such companies?
- What would you change about Nairobi?
Crime in Nairobi is at an all-time high. I would reduce the crime rate to spur development. It is difficult to attract investors to a city that is perceived as being unsafe.
Corruption remains a blight on Nairobi and I would definitely get rid of all the corruption cartels that offer a conducive environment for corruption to thrive.
Lastly, to decongest the city I would introduce trams as the only transportation service operating within Nairobi’s central business district, this would drastically reduce traffic.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
It offers cut throat competition for client retention. The competitive environment in Nairobi provides me the opportunity for improving my performance, skills and abilities. During the pitching season, it inspires me to put greater effort that always result in onboarding new clients.
As PR practitioners, we pitch a lot for new businesses: some pitches are fruitful, but other unscrupulous company’s call for pitches to steal ideas and then engage a one-man show to activate your ideas. I think a clause should be introduced by PRSK to penalize such companies.
The public relations industry is very dynamic! It’s not like mathematics in the teaching fraternity where 1+1 will always be 2. The measurement for instance of how effective one is keeps changing. Gone are the days when clients were just keen on seeing the number of hits they received from tier one publication weighed against the advertising value equivalency (AVE). With the advent of the internet we now have a number of metrics used to gauge PR effectiveness, clients are keen on looking at the engagement, impressions, posts, mentions and reach. You need to keep reinventing yourself.
- If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting.
The people of Nairobi are always welcoming! Take advantage – free accommodation. LOL… The money you save from free accommodation use it for nightlife! And during the day as you nurse your hangover, you have nothing to worry about as Nairobi offers lovely climate with warm and cool atmosphere for most of the year.