By Princerwill Ekwujuru
Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, is the Founder and Chairman of APO Group, in this exclusive chat, he speaks of his firms efforts at changing the African narrative, thereby instigating trade and investment for the African continent, reveals his journey to the media world
When you say APO Group is a ‘press release distribution’ service, what do you mean?
African Press Organization (APO) Group is the leading Pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service. We were founded in 2007, and today we distribute press releases for more than 300 clients – mainly multinational companies and international institutions. Our media network consists of more than 400,000 journalists who either work in Africa or report on Africa.
We also publish our clients’ press releases on more than 300 African news websites and on renowned financial news services like Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones Factiva, and LexisNexis to ensure we are reaching international audiences.
We also work with our clients in a Public Relations capacity, using our unique knowledge of the African media landscape to help them forge strong relationships with journalists. These connections are enabling our clients – which include Canon, Marriott, the NBA, and many others to build up their operations on the African continent.
This combination of press release distribution and PR activity helps us to shine a light on the ‘real’ Africa and creates a more positive perception of the continent for audiences around the world.
What has been your evolution in Africa, and how have you managed to establish APO Group as the leading player in our continent?
When I first founded the company, I was myself a Journalist working for online Gabonese media Gabonews. At the time it was very difficult for Journalists to access press releases or news about Africa all in one place. APO Group (or the African Press Organization as we were then) provided a feed of content that was easy to use and saved Journalists time.
Since then, we have recognized the importance of ‘local knowledge’. We have built a team that represents all of Africa, providing ‘on-the-ground’ experience and expertise to our clients regardless of where on the continent they want to target. This attention to detail has helped us build a network that covers all of the 54 countries – and gives us truly Pan African reach. I now own 100% of the leading pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, and that is something that makes me extremely proud.
Tell us more about your partnership with Getty Images?
One of APO Group’s main goals is to find new ways of challenging international perceptions and changing the narrative about Africa. Ultimately, it is about driving trade and investment, and helping to stimulate African economies as well. We have recently signed an exclusive agreement with Getty Images, the world leader in visual communications, that will make images – and press releases – about Africa instantly available to tens of thousands of media organizations all over the world.
Getty Images is perfectly placed to help us challenge any negative perceptions of Africa. It is one of the most instantly recognizable names in international media, with over one million clients in almost every country in the world. Our deal marks the first time Getty Images has opened up its unrivalled distribution platform to content from a press release distribution service. And what makes our partnership even more special, is that Getty Images subscribers will not only be able to access our clients’ images, but the accompanying press releases too.
For our clients, it means an incredible opportunity to reach further with their content than ever before. For Africa, it means the chance to break the cycle of negative news and show the world the bigger picture. I am so thankful to Getty Images for opening their network to Africa. They are using their unparalleled reach and reputation to elevate our continent on the world stage. If we can deliver positive images and stories to the rest of the world, we can stop the negative stereotypes of poverty and economical naivety.
Quite recently APO Group and the African Union of Broadcasting joined forces to deliver Africa-related content to global TV and Radio stations. What informed this partnership, and what do Africa and the world stand to gain from this?
The African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) is the professional body representing the national broadcasters from 52 African states. It is the only organization that unites these diverse media outlets, bringing cohesion to what is a fragmented media landscape.
Like Getty Images, the AUB has access to a vast network of prominent media organizations that can help us take our clients’ content further. Our deal means B-roll footage and soundbites produced or distributed by APO Group and related to sports and business news from the African continent will be made available to AUB members free of charge and with unrestricted news use.
And it’s not just AUB members in Africa which will have access to that African news content, but also members of their sister associations around the world, including the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU). If these renowned news services are carrying content produced or distributed by APO Group, it means we can say with sincerity that we can influence how the world sees Africa.
How do you break the language and cultural nuances that exist in Africa?
Sixteen African countries have two or more official languages, all with dedicated media representation, and that is a crucial factor when planning press release distribution or other PR activity in Africa. Your choice of language can directly affect your return on investment.
If you want the African media houses to spread your message, it is common courtesy to provide content in their working language or languages. Don’t expect them to spend time and money translating content provided in the wrong language. Understanding which languages are spoken in which areas is important to the success of any public relations activity in Africa.
For example, if you’re planning PR activity in East Africa, you’ll want to include the Swahili language, which is spoken by over 100 million people in the region. Another example, Luganda, is the major language of Uganda, spoken by over 16 million people and used by some of the most influential media houses in Uganda. Again, it is our amazing team that enables us to truly localize our services. We are multilingual and well connected. That allows us to cover all the nuances of African communications.