Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 12 May 16
As a South African brand, Eskom is undoubtedly subject to more consumer wrath than any other. Naturally, most South Africans now take to social media platforms to vent when they find themselves without electricity on a cold Sunday morning. And the public utility has been ill equipped to manage the ongoing attacks – both online and offline – to its brand. Now, according to Pieter Pretorius, General Manager Strategic Marketing and Branding at Eskom, the company is on a drive to digitise its processes – and develop a proactive online strategy.
“Eskom has been a bit late to the party with regards to tech, social media, etc, but we do now have a social media team in place and a digital agency that monitors the mainstream channels,” he explains. “We also have a weekly ‘issues’ meeting in which we decide on [media] positions, and there are Monday morning meetings with the Exco – during which we decide on the approach in both the traditional news media and social channels…”
Pretorius says there is also an online ‘issues’ register, which they use to track the various news items and reputational threats.
“We also have a tool that allows us to measure our reputation on a quarterly basis, apart from the big annual survey that we do,” he adds. “We use all these integrated tools, and we will also soon be using a Microsoft CRM tool to allow us to have a better view of what’s going on. Within a year we hope to have this running – and then react far more quickly in real time.”
Another major project underway is the digitisation of 20-40 years’ worth of audiovisual material, which needs to be put into a centralised system, says Pretorius. In addition, Eskom is launching an app, designed to appeal to consumers who now conduct most of their payments (and lives) electronically.
“We’ve started with phase 1 of an app that will give Eskom customers notice of planned or unplanned outages, load shedding schedules, etc,” he says. “The profile of our consumers is changing…so many people want to use prepaid electricity, pay online, etc – and from that point of view we are moving in the right direction.”