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SABC Pension Fund - Issues Management Campaign

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Company: SABC Pension Fund, Johannesburg, South Africa
Company Description: SABC Pension Fund is a Fund providing retirement benefits to employees of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It is managed by a Board of 10 Trustees and a Chief Executive Officer. It provides retirement benefits currently to 1800 pensioners, and 3,800 aspirant pensioners currently still employed. It has 5 full time employees. It has assets under management totalling R12 billion.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Issues Management

Nomination Title: CEO MEDIAtes In Time

Tell the story about this nominated campaign since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Legislated retirement reform, a large-scale move from a defined benefit based industry to defined contribution environment, differing expectations and financial acumen levels amongst stakeholders and compliance imperatives have thrust the South African retirement industry into turmoil. Broader socio-economic influencers within the Southern African context have further tainted perceptions that stakeholders of retirement funds members have of the industry.

Furthermore the past three years have seen the employer, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) mired in controversy linked to financial mismanagement, misappropriation and leadership. (Annexure A: Media Coverage). Fund members are concerned, not only with employment issues, but also with the safety and security of their retirement monies.

Despite this, the SABC Pension Fund remains one of the top performing funds in the multi-billion dollar South African retirement fund industry, yielding above average member benefits and pensioner payments increasing annually in excess of the inflation rate (on average 10% pa).

In 2014 when the employer issues began to surface, the entrant spearheaded the development of a structured reputation management and education strategy designed to monitor and sustain Fund reputation, stakeholder engagement and service levels. This strategy has incorporated both diagnostic and constituent research, planning and sustained intervention to all stakeholders and commenced at the end of 2014. 2017 has seen re-evaluation against core indicators. (Annexure B: Executive summary of Stakeholder Perceptions Research)
However recent events at the end of 2016 (notably a televised parliamentary enquiry and escalating controversy around the Board of the SABC (the employer) including the ultimate dismissal of the Chief Operating Officer) prompted immediate intervention aimed at boosting member confidence through the use of national media (radio, television and print media.) (Annexure A Media Coverage)

Two core initiatives were determined as immediate intervention to avert a reputational crisis involving social responsibility, due diligence and the national media.

While primary stakeholders addressed by this strategy are the 3,655 employees of the SABC (by no means a homogenous group, diversity in job function, skills levels, financial acumen indices, income grouping and socio-political affiliation is high,) intervention has included an industry development initiative so as to enhance Fund reputation as a concerned social citizen in the broader macro-environment.

Both issues management initiatives have been spearheaded by the entrant, the CEO of the Fund who was identified as the primary spokesperson in the national media campaign, the “face of the fund” in terms of governance, excellence and achievement.

The first initiative was to deploy the CEO on and in national media as the key spokesperson for the Fund on Fund performance in terms of best practices, financial reporting and the winning of several local and international awards to boost member confidence in a time of crisis; (Annexure C – Radio Interview SAFM); (Annexure D and E – Mail and Guardian Articles) (Annexure G – Television Interview on Pension Industry)

The second initiative was to both act and be perceived as a concerned corporate citizen in the eyes of the retirement industry and the broader membership base of retirement funds. The SABC Pension Fund thus engineered and co-sponsored a best practices industry study commissioned by the regional industry body, the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) into local and global best practices designed to create both a template and a toolkit for member funds to enhance practices in governance, stakeholder engagement, trustee development, investment practices and financial reporting. (Annexure F: Best Practices Research Brochure)

Results from the study were launched at the annual IRFA conference in Durban in August 2016, to 1,500 delegates drawn from retirement funds, service providers and organized labour - the CEO was actively involved in the research, oversight and planning committee together with representatives from IRFA and the Pensions Regulator, the Financial Services Board.

The study resulted in extensive? coverage on national radio and television, with the CEO leading these interviews both as spokesperson for the SABC Fund as well as the Industry (Annexure H: TV interview)

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of this nominated PR program since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

· Interest in Fund piqued as members were exposed to the CEO (and Fund) on television and in the media.
· Subsequently, 75% of pensioners were reached and communicated to at 13 events held countrywide, highest attendance ever.
· Results of the 2017 research survey (Appendix B) compared to 2014/5 survey as rated by members far exceeded expectation in terms of improvement:

The 2017 Rating of Formal Communication process showed that

-Average perception of communication efficacy increased by 5%
-Clarity of communication increased by 3%
-The perception of the Relevance to stakeholder needs of communication increased 7%

The 2017 Rating of Reputational Indices revealed the following increases:

-Positive Reputation of the Fund by 8%
-Social contribution reputation by 7%
-Governance reputation by 7%
-Fund Management reputation by 8%
-Industry Credibility reputation by 9%
-Expertise reputation by 8%