The Dakar-based African Press Organisation announced yesterday the appointment of its Executive Director. Eloïne Barry gives an exclusive interview to Afrik-News.com and shares with us her vision on the APO leadership and ambition. She is Franco-Guinean born in Lyon, France, where she was raised up and studied Translations and International Relations followed by a Communication Master. Prior to joining the APO she was Head of Media Relations for EMEA at PR Newswire, global leader in news distribution, targeting and monitoring for 5 years. Interview.
Why choosing the African Press Organisation?
Eloïne Barry : I have had the chance to work closely with Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, APO Secretary General during my time at PR Newswire. This collaboration helped me realise that Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard and I shared the same vision on issues related to our continent of origin.
The African Press Organisation provides free services to African journalists, innovative communications products to Public authorities and supports African and International institutions in their strategic communications towards the implementation of Development goals.
With a media database of 25,000 contacts and a distribution capacity of nearly 20.000 Africa-related press releases per year, it has become a recognized Global Leader in the Dissemination of Africa-related News. It contributes to bridging the digital divide between the media of the North and the South by helping African journalists to easily have access to virtual press conferences in real time, do their researches, including using the internal search engine, and through strategic partnership with the world’s leaders in news and information delivery.
Donald Kaberuka the President of the African Development Bank Group said that the distribution of economic information related to Africa participates in the development of the African continent. Then the APO is a crucial actor in the development of the whole African continent and I want to be part of it.
What will be your missions as Executive Director of the African Press Organisation?
It will be a challenging, varied and pivotal position. Reporting into Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, APO General Secretary, I will act as the link between APO strategy and operations, managing all activities, coordinating project and service development. This is a key role that will help ensure all quality of services is aligned with APO’s strategy and core vision.
What is the APO today?
The APO has grown to become the global leader in news distribution, PR and Communication strategies in Africa. We currently issue an average of 20,000 news releases related to Africa per year. In 2009 and 2010 the APO signed an agreement with the global leaders in News Distribution: PR Newswire, LexisNexis and Comtex. We have also just signed another contract with another major player in the news industry: DowJones Factiva.
The APO has signed some important content partnership agreements too with Pan African portals such as StarAfrica (Orange’s African Portal), A24 Media, which is Africa’s first digital content site, Afrik.com, Afribiz, Codewit News and iMoteur.com.
The APO has now become PR Newswire preferred supplier in news delivery in Africa. This demonstrates the ability of the APO to provide the best level of delivery and the most comprehensive distribution to the African media landscape.
We organised nearly 50 virtual press conferences and webcasts since 2008, particularly on behalf of different specialised agencies of the United Nations (UN, IFAD, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, ITU, …), but also the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, International Monetary Fund, or the European Commission.
Through a full range of customised media relations tools and new technology, we have managed to attract very prestigious clients and to make a significant and lasting contribution to various issues such as health, hunger, climate changes and governance.
Which direction will the APO take in the future?
We first need to carry on working on establishing our leadership in Africa-related news distribution by exploring new partnerships that would allow us to distribute the content of our clients through mobile technology in Africa.
We also want to focus and add resources to our highly demanded services: the virtual press conference and webcast, which to us are the future of PR.
We off course have some projects of development that need to remain confidential for the time being but our goal and ambition is to become irreplaceable in anything PR or communication-related in Africa and also to carry on offering services that meet our client’s needs. This can range from distributing news releases, organising events and collating information.
The development of the African Press Organisation will very much be guided by two major factors. First one being the Economic growth currently showed in Africa with 13 African countries hedging on between 6% and 11% growth in the next year, and second one being the Internet expansion of the continent.
At the moment more and more big corporations consider the African continent as an asset for their development. The need for communication and PR in Africa is growing and PR and Communications Managers realise that traditional PR agencies based in Europe and in the US do not have the necessary knowledge of the continent and the right network to provide effective campaigns. We have also noticed that African journalists were not responsive to Western PR Agencies.
The APO has its headquarters in Dakar, we employ African staff, provide free services to African journalists, we get the support of major African organisations such as Panapress, AllAfrica, the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The APO’s credibility is undeniable.
Is the APO hiring then?
We are indeed hiring new staff and must increase our resources help and support our growth. We do have some vacancies to fill. The profiles we look for are candidates with knowledge of both French and English, with a significant experience in PR or Communication of African origin, to become Project Managers, Media Relations Executives and Sales Executives.