From internal coordination to external engagements, NREN communications and marketing play a vital role in helping NRENs grow and achieve sustainability. The wonderful work that NRENs do, amplified by vibrant communications has reaped significant benefits for some NRENs such as RENU. Through the webinar “Harnessing the potential of NREN communication”, the communications lead from RENU, Carolyn Tuhwezeine shared insights on the strategies, challenges and benefits that the NREN has experienced from their efforts.
The Research and Education Network for Uganda (RENU) has a communications team of six individuals, which has managed to effectively engage their major stakeholders through multiple channels and as a result has improved their services uptake in their country and gained significant social media and news coverage in the process. Boasting a strong social media presence on all major platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and website has enabled them to establish a strong relationship with their stakeholders, clear misconception about their services, increase brand recognition, gain more industry partnerships and boost trust for their company.
In her presentation, Caroline emphasized the importance of having strong support from internal management as a catalyst for having a strong communications department. She praised the support that she and her team have received from their CEO, Mr. Nicholas Mbonimpa, as a strong contributing factor to their success. She went on to clarify the role that NREN communication is supposed to play in an NREN sighting multiple strategies that the audience appreciated. She stated their guiding principle as “Whoever needs to know about RENU, must know about RENU”. Following this principle, they have left no stone unturned, establishing multiple communication channels including newspapers, radio, TV talk shows, documentaries and social media.
RENU’s communication journey has not been without its challenges so far. Media shyness, understaffing and financing were mentioned amongst the factors that have hindered progress. None the less, Caroline stressed that efforts made in overcoming these challenges have been worth while and a good investment.
The presenter closed the session with a word of encouragement to all 48 participants present, stressing the need to establish and support a communications and marketing team in all NRENs. Her presentation has been made available via the link: https://repository.ubuntunet.net/handle/10.20374/342 and can be used as a blueprint by any NREN in Africa and beyond. Details of accessing the recording or the webinar are as follows: https://ubuntunet.zoom.us/rec/share/Km78nXKT2WWWWNgJQWpRwLA4iAQZRxeZfE9FYUa_P8XM5l1db8-yAbRUdzkA_iLR.ODU5-VD-bOsAMIkY
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