Flow Communications

Cherished global icon Desmond Tutu used his 7 October birthday in 2020 to shine a light on one of the world’s most pressing challenges – climate change – and Flow Communications was there to help magnify the message.

What an honour it was to support the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’s production of the first-ever online-only Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture, on the night of the archbishop’s 89th birthday. 

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Some of Flow's artwork to promote the lecture.

While we cannot grab all that glory, we do get a warm feeling from being involved in an event that made “the Arch” proud – never mind the way it made headlines and trended on social media around the world.

“The lecture reached over eight million people across the world via social media alone. We are thrilled to report that our content appeared 95 590 738 times across a screen online. This is a phenomenal result,” says Flow’s CEO, Tara Turkington.

When social media is measured, the term “reach” refers to the number of individuals who came across the content produced.

An hour-long Twitter chat held on 6 October, ahead of the lecture, by itself reached seven million people. Almost 3 500 (3 424) engagements were recorded in that hour.

“We enlisted five influencers to help us to publicise the lecture and its important messages. They were unbelievably generous, all offering their services pro bono. Thank you so much to Ulrich Janse van Vuuren, Di Brown, Ryan Enslin, Yusuf Abramjee, Catherine Constantinides and Akhona Xotyeni. Without you, far fewer people would have been exposed to the lecture,” says Turkington.

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Social media coverage of the lecture reached millions of people.
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Some of Flow's artwork to promote the lecture.

On the traditional media side of things, the stats of which we will be counting up over the next week or so, Flow’s head of public relations, Caroline Smith, says the response “was absolutely wonderful – everybody loved the Arch, and it was great to see that played out in the media coverage and attention”.

This was also the first time the lecture, in its 10th year, was an online-only event. The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation used Flow’s new interactive webinar application, first used at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July, to present the lecture. We tailored the app to the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’s specific requirements.

Almost 1 500 (1 477) people used the app to watch the lecture, this year delivered by three incredible women: Christiana Figueres, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, and young African environmental activists, Ayakha Melithafa and Vanessa Nakate.

Romaney Pinnock, interim COO of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, wrote us a message we will treasure forever: “Team Flow!... You took our breath away day after day that we worked with you. Thank you for your dedication, your passion, your beautiful energies and your hard work. You made this peace lecture a phenomenal success and we will be forever grateful.”

Melithafa is a South African teenager who was spurred into action during the Western Cape’s severe 2017/18 water crisis. Ugandan Nakate founded the Rise Up Movement that works to promote changes in legislation to protect the environment in several world regions. All three called for urgent action on climate change.

Nakate said the world community has two choices when it comes to climate change – life or death. Urging people and nations to work together to help each other mitigate against and adapt to climate change, she said: “Choose life for the people, choose life for the ecosystems, choose life for the planet. If we are united, if we work together, if we demand climate justice, we will be able to transform the world and make it a better place.”

The curated platform or webinar app created by Flow featured six commentators, all people working to ensure humanity survives the negative effects of climate change. These people posted comments and held public conversations that added depth to viewers’ lecture experience. Extra information, speaker biographies, news articles and social media highlights were also posted to the platform.

The evening closed with messages from Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore; former United Nations high commissioner for refugees Mary Robinson; Zimbabwean philanthropist and entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa and his wife, Tsitsi Masiyiwa; and Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, his Ethiopian Episcopal Church colleague, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, and Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, first deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa.

Gore gave one of the more quotable quotes of the evening, declaring that “the will to act is itself a renewable resource”. We hope that our ability to help the Tutu Foundation spread the word on how important it is to take action against climate change, like moving to renewable energy, spurs many more people to do something. However insignificant it feels, it’s exactly as the Arch said so long ago: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

If you missed the lecture, you can watch it here on Youtube: 

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The Daily Maverick's coverage of the 10th Annual Tutu Peace Lecture, which received global media coverage.
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