2021 has been a challenging and chaotic year for all of us as we continue to navigate through the effects of COVID-19. It is encouraging that we have made positive strides in our efforts to combat the pandemic, specifically with the national vaccination drive. As the fourth wave crashes around us, and as we anticipate the next, it is critical that more and more people are vaccinated. This remains the most essential imperative to ensure a rapid economic recovery for South Africa, and a return to a society where the intended efforts of economic inclusion are able to resume.
Our Aprio (‘A’) team which is, collectively, probably the most experienced communications team in South Africa, has continued to provide significant support, appropriate guidance, exemplary advisory services, considered content generation and innovative creative delivery to our clients over the last year.
Aprio Credence, our crisis and issue management division has had a busy couple of months with deliverables including:
- Supporting a financial services client through a criminal data breach, where Aprio Credence’s proprietary, battle-hardened cyber breach “playbook” served as an invaluable resource Providing ongoing advisory and reputation management support to a major alcohol industry player through the complex challenges of COVID-19 lockdowns and alcohol bans
- Successfully delivering more than 100 executive media training sessions in the “new normal” of remote, video conferencing-based learning sessions
- Implementing elements of Aprio Credence’s ARMOUR reputational risk and resilience programme – spanning vulnerability audits, policy, playbook and protocol development, crisis leadership training, and simulation stress-tests – for a range of JSE-listed and private companies.
Aprio Investor Relations (Aprio IR) has maintained its momentum and recently worked together with Aprio Strategic Communications to help position the rationale for the potential combination of two prominent and large-scale mining groups. Aprio IR’s deep capital markets experience helped identify certain risks that shifted our role from communications adviser to trusted partner. The Aprio IR team assisted a client to communicate a costly outcome that impacted multiple stakeholder groups, including employees, consumers and shareholders. The division’s valuable advice was integrated across multiple communication strategies and was instrumental in ensuring the company held the narrative and maintained a strong message. Although the message was difficult and the impact material, the company was lauded for its transparency and openness towards its shareholders and other stakeholders.
Aprio IR was also appointed in an advisory, messaging and media monitoring role by two large international lenders, who had significant exposure to a South African company heading towards business rescue. The lenders offered a debt-for-asset swap deal to the company. This saw the emergence of a vocal activist shareholder group, using social media to rally support and oppose a total asset strip. The debt-for-asset swap was the first of its kind in the South African context, which is more accustomed to the debt-for-equity route. Aprio IR’s extensive understanding of the South African market coupled with lateral thinking and analytical interpretation of media coverage ensured sound and proactive advice. The assignment brought to the fore how quickly and effectively even a small band of shareholders can organise themselves into a meaningful voice, that not only has to be acknowledged by company management but can also influence the share price.
Aprio Digital has had a busy couple of months, as the demand for digital communications increased during the pandemic. This included the development of a LinkedIn strategy to position Capital Appreciation’s leadership team, and the leaders of each of its underlying investments as tech-savvy thought leaders in the Fintech industry. We teamed up with the marketing experts at Synthesis, one of Capital Appreciation’s underlying investments, to align our strategy and co-create a fit-for-purpose marketing approach for Capital Appreciation.
The shift from traditional communications methods towards more digitally led channels is well underway and our clients are already seeing the benefits of some of our cross-channel efforts. We’ve helped a number of high-profile investment clients unpack and understand the online conversations that impact their reputation and the reputation of their investments, using the powerful insights provided by Brandwatch. The team continued to deliver high-quality digital magazines that present thought-leadership in a high impact, reader-friendly and long-form medium. Absa Evolve is now entering its 10th edition – the result of a four-year partnership with the Absa team that has seen the launch of several new digital products.
It is very pleasing that despite the remote working arrangement, the ‘A’ team has continued to deliver exceptionally well throughout the year. To the ‘A’ team, thank you for your hard work, commitment, and dedication not only to Aprio, but – more importantly – to our growing client base in South Africa and on the rest of the African continent. Your significant input and industry-leading work is being recognised and has made me exceptionally proud and privileged to be working alongside all of you.
Aprio Strategic Communications While working remotely, the ‘A’ team continued to deliver remarkably well throughout the year. To the ‘A’ team, thank you for your hard work, commitment, and dedication not only to Aprio, but – more importantly – to our growing client base in South Africa and on the rest of the African continent. Your significant input and industry-leading work is being recognised and has made me exceptionally proud and privileged to be working alongside all of you.
My deepest appreciation goes to all our clients for your continued support over 2021. While we expect 2022 to be yet another challenging and turbulent year for many of us, rest assured, the Aprio team is committed to continually providing the quality of service and expert advice, as well as our exciting and innovative digital communication products, for which we are becoming renowned.
I wish you and your families a restful and happy holiday season. I look forward to welcoming you back in the new year, re-energised and ready to take-on the challenges that lie ahead. I believe we are all in a stronger place and better positioned for an exciting year ahead,
Stay safe and healthy.