By Celestine Okorie, Correspondent South Africa
One year on from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, APO Group, the leading Pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, continues to work on many fronts in the battle against the virus.
In March 2020, at a time of great uncertainty for Africa, APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, and his team quickly realized that the company’s PR tools and media network could help in delivering potentially life-saving information to people all over the continent.
APO Group launched its Coronavirus Initiative for Africa at the beginning of April, donating resources and expertise to support African governments, institutions and official organizations in the fight against COVID-19.
A major part of the initiative was to offer pro bono access to APO Group’s press release distribution service for governments and health organizations operating across Africa. To date, more than 11,000 COVID-19-related press releases have been distributed – giving public organizations greater reach and allowing them to connect with people via credible, secure media channels as they deliver critical information relating to the pandemic.
It has been a truly Pan-African approach with countries all over the continent benefitting from the initiative. Since March 2020, APO Group has distributed, free of charge:
722 press releases for the South African government
192 for the Gabonese Ministry of Health
127 for the Angolan Ministry of Health
230 for the Ugandan Ministry of Health
190 for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health
236 for the Egyptian Ministry of Health
602 for the Kenyan Ministry of Health
507 for the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
During the last year, APO Group also established three hugely impactful relationships with global organizations at the heart of the COVID-19 response: The World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and UNESCO.
A pro bono partnership was arranged with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa. In this unique collaboration, APO Group worked with WHO Africa on a number of initiatives, including the coordination of a series of high-profile online press conferences, held every two weeks, where senior health officials were able to connect with media and public audiences all over the world.
APO Group established a similar pro bono agreement with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, boosting the visibility of their media briefings, and providing Africans with vital information about the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
APO Group also made a significant contribution to the WHO ‘Safe Hands Challenge’, by introducing several famous faces and prominent people to the cause, including supermodel and philanthropist, Naomi Campbell, President of the Basketball Africa League, Amadou Gallo Fall, and the CEO of Euronews, Michael Peters.
In June 2020, APO Group joined the UNESCO Global Education Coalition for COVID-19 Response, an international coalition of organizations donating resources and logistical support to help the more than 1.2 billion children around the world affected by school and university closures during the pandemic. Other organizations in the Coalition include Facebook, IBM, Google and Microsoft.
For both WHO Africa and UNESCO, APO Group’s most important contribution was in opening up their network of multinational clients and partners to facilitate new collaborations and potential support in the fight against the pandemic.
“We knew that many of our multinational clients and partners wanted to get involved in the crucial work being done by WHO and UNESCO,” said APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard. “So, we started making introductions and coordinating meetings. These are some of the biggest companies operating in Africa, and the meetings enabled WHO and UNESCO to discuss financial, technical and logistical initiatives with senior executives across a broad range of industries. In these unprecedented circumstances, it was extremely encouraging to see so many prominent organizations pulling together to help Africa navigate a way through this crisis.”
Some of the connections made by Nicolas and the APO Group team to WHO Africa and UNESCO include:
National Basketball Association (NBA)
APO Group also introduced UNESCO to new potential media partners, including Euronews, Channel TV (Nigeria) and LUSA News Agency (Portugal).
In another initiative, APO Group partnered with Opera, a leading African mobile browser and news platform, to fight disinformation and boost the prominence of truthful news related to the spread of COVID-19 across Africa. All APO Group content has been integrated into the Opera News platform used by 200 million users worldwide.
“These initiatives, among many others, demonstrate the importance of good communication and collaboration in times of crisis,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard. “We are in the privileged position of being able to keep people connected and updated with practical, credible information that they know they can trust. Most of all, I am extremely proud of the hard work done by my colleagues throughout this difficult year. The entire APO Group staff mobilized immediately, realizing the important role we had to play. We contributed to the fight against the virus in the best way we could, and I’m delighted we were able to make a difference.”