Flow Communications

The Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture is one of the most important dialogue events on the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s busy calendar – and also one of the most significant for Flow. This year’s lecture was our 15th!

The speaker for this year’s Annual Lecture, the 19th and only the second to be held online, was Fatou Bensouda, until recently the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Hailing from the tiny West African nation of The Gambia, Bensouda is a highly respected jurist and an authoritative voice on issues of justice.

The topic of her address was The Rule of Law, International Criminal Justice and its Contribution to Sustainable Development (read the full transcript here). In it, Bensouda argued eloquently and passionately that there cannot be peace without justice, and in turn there cannot be justice without strong institutions such as the ICC.

Nmal 2021 fatou bensouda events platform
The events platform that Flow created, showing Fatou Bensouda and the live posts of the commentators.

Flow’s job – as always – was to provide the Annual Lecture with a wide variety of digital communications support, including social media, writing and editing, and managing the Annual Lecture content on the Foundation’s website. We also managed the special online platform, events.nelsonmandela.org, which we had originally built for last year’s Annual Lecture, presented then by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

For the event, we assembled a crack team of Flowstars – most of them seasoned veterans of the Annual Lecture – to ensure that the proceedings went off as smoothly as possible.

“Do you know how nerve-wracking it is to live-tweet the annual lecture?” asks social media manager Melanie-Ann Feris, who adds, “Nerve-wracking but also great fun, especially because it’s a team effort and we work so well together.”

A large part of Flow’s duties involved managing social media for the Foundation before, during and after the event, and much effort went into both preparation and on-day work, says Melanie-Ann.

“A lot of preparation went into the lecture weeks beforehand, even though this was an online event. There’s setting up of hashtags for tracking, developing all the design elements to go out on the various social media platforms, during and after the lecture, setting up and managing paid content, and deciding who exactly would be responsible for what.

“The days leading up to the actual event were a buzz of activity, as each team member made sure that they knew exactly what to do to ensure the lecture went off smoothly. This year, the Foundation also introduced some new elements: two Twitter Space events, one the day before and another after the event, that also needed live-tweeting.

“This year there was a core team of seven to manage content development, live posting and community management on the day. This included a designer, social media managers and paid specialists,” says Melanie-Ann.

Flow’s chief technology officer, Richard Frank, says the events platform, which included livestreaming the lecture, a panel of commentators and a social media wall, was upgraded and featured new functionality this year.

“The events platform has been steadily upgraded since last year’s Annual Lecture. The Foundation has now run 10 online events on events.nelsonmandela.org since last year’s lecture.

“This year, we introduced emoji reactions and the ‘ask a question’ functionality so audience members could pose questions to be answered by the commentators. The lecture was streamed simultaneously to the events platform, YouTube and Facebook,” says Richard.

In addition, various pieces of content for Foundation’s website – including a press release, a verbatim transcript of the lecture and a photo gallery – had to be finalised, approved and uploaded as soon as possible after the event. This was done almost immediately after the lecture concluded.

Flow nmal 2021 team
The Flow team, pleased after yet another successful Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.

And the result? We knocked it out of the park, far exceeding all our benchmarks: 43% more event registrations than planned, more than three times the expected users, more than eight times the projected views on all platforms, and nearly 12 times the anticipated social media reach.

The Foundation’s chief executive officer, Sello Hatang, was delighted with the outcome, calling Flow’s work “exceptional”.

“The Nelson Mandela Foundation sincerely appreciates the quality of your service, which was delivered with efficiency and excellence. We could not have been able to host the lecture without you. Our team could not be more satisfied with your work,” he wrote to Flow managing director Tiffany Turkington-Palmer.

For Tiffany, it was mission accomplished yet again for one of Flow’s oldest and most valued clients.

“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to work with the Nelson Mandela Foundation team on the 19th Annual Lecture. Flow has been partnering with the Foundation on a total of 15 annual lectures, and the event is a key one for all of us,” says Tiffany.

“This year’s results are testimony to the hard work of the team at the NMF, and we are really proud to have hosted another meaningful and thought-provoking event.”

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