White PR firm hire queried

2011-10-08 14:51

The Black Business Council (BBC) – formed last month when black business broke away from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) after feeling sidelined by white business – is using a white company to handle its public relations.

Channel?MPR is run by Angelo Coppola and has been conducting media relations for organised black business since the latter held the summit that resulted in the breaking away from Busa.

The council’s?main goal is to come up with strategies aimed at ensuring that black business becomes empowered and work towards making headway in sectors that have been historically?dominated by white companies.

The council’s spokesperson Sandile Zungu this week defended the appointment of the new public relations company.

He said organised black business had initially requested Masake Communications to handle most of the work related to organising the watershed Black Business Summit that took place last month.

“Prior to the summit we requested Masake to organise the event for us and then the company brought in Channel?MPR as a sub-contractor,” said Zungu.

“Masake is a company that put together the whole summit – from the logistics to drafting of invititaions.”

Zungu said having the company handling the media relations was not inconsistent with the objectives of the council as it was?pushing for the empowerment of black organisations.

“You are raising an interesting issue and we cannot be defensive about it,” he said.

Zungu however, said the criticism was misplaced, adding that the public relations company had been doing a good job for the organisation.

He said there was no procurement done for the event management contract, adding that the contract between the council and Masake was temporary.

Zungu explained that once the council was operating ­­full-time, it would looking for companies that would offer communications and organise events permanently.

Zungu said the council opted to continue using Masake and the public relations company after the summit for the sake of continuity and did not want to cause disruption to the council’s media strategy.

Coppola said: “I know it sounds ironic but I am sub-contracted to Masake Events Management and I have been doing media relations for Masake for two years.”

Masake chief executive Sharmayne Venkatsamy said the events management firm was roped in by the black business summit organisers to execute the summit under very tight deadlines.

“We were given only a few weeks to work on the summit and we brought in Coppola as a communications consultant because our company does not do media relations and that is his area of speciality,” she said.

Venkatsamy said Masake has a number of public relations firms on its database.

Given the demands of the brief, the public relations company’s proposition was most suitable.

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