By: Michael Bruce
Though there are no available statistics, let’s be honest, public relations is a profession dominated by women in Ghana. They are found at multinational and indigenous firms across the country.
Over the weekend, I had the honour of listening to women executives in the public relations industry at the inaugural ‘Women in PR Ghana’ seminarorganised in Accra by E’April Public Relations in partnership with the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana.
The event was such a huge success, thanks to the great line-up of speakers that were able to share their experiences and gave attendees an insight into the world of PR they may not find in university lecture halls.
Attendees were told that the PR industry is growing in size and scope — the work is even becoming more complex and challenging. As the future holds lots of opportunities, the enthusiastic participants were also counselled to adapt to the changing environment.
“PR is everything. It’s not necessarily what you’ve read in a textbook. Everybody likes working with people who can deliver,” Gifty Bingley, an award-winning communications and public relations leader with over 15-years of experience in telecommunications, government and broadcast media organisations, told the participants.
Engaging the participants on how to transition from any career into PR, Ms Bingley, said: “In aspiring to go into PR, do a SWOT analysis before transitioning into PR; get expert advice, look at various PR roles and requirements, look for things that will keep you busy, focus on your strengths and focus on the rest which you think are threats.”
Ms. Bingley, who landed her first PR job at the British High Commission in Ghana, advised the next generation of PR women to distinguish and differentiate themselves. “Do not leave your competence in question. When you get into the job market, ace it and kill it. PR pays well when you are able to show that you can deliver value for money.”
Speaking on digital PR, Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, a PR business leader for Ogilvy & Mather Ghana, an integrated communications agency, highlighted the need for women in PR to build a digital arsenal. “Digital is now PR; be creative and innovative and tell a story because people like stories.”
Based on her vast experience in communications, Ms Ofori-Dwumfuo explained that PR is about adapting, adding that PR people need to put extra value on the table through digital measurement.
“Digital is organic; it just happens. But you need to understand the risk and be open minded. You also must know the digital channel to help you define what you want to do I your PR activities. You need to know your reputation goals with online PR,” says Ms Ofori-Dwumfuo.
Urging the attendees to classify their online audience properly, she explained that engagement on digital platforms is queen and PR people cannot afford to lose that.
During a panel discussion moderated by a communications professional with Stratcomm Africa, Ms. Akosua Ogyiri Kwafo, panellists including the Sustainability and Community Affairs Manager, Voltic Ghana; Ms Joyce Ahiadorme, the Head of PR Department, Ghana Institute of Journalism, Ms Paulina Kuranchie; Head of Public Relations, Trust Hospital Ms. Afia Drah, and Ms Fati Shaibu, News Editor, e.TV Ghana also encouraged women in PR to demonstrate value by measuring their PR activities. They also urged them to build a better relationship with the media.
“It is my wish and that of the many other women in PR who have dedicated their time to see women achieve more in their career advancement and are able to balance their role as leaders and personal life the best way they can,” Ms. Faith Senam Ocloo, the Convener of the seminar told me on the margins of the event.
She continued: “We can achieve whatever we aim for if we work for it. As these speakers, panellists have made it as leaders in their various organisations, so can other young women in PR at entry-level make it to the top of the organisations.”
Ms Senam Ocloo, a PR fashion blogger and Founder of E’April Public Relations disclosed that the seminar would be an annual event which is aimed at gathering women in PR and Communications related profession to share their lessons, journey and inspire the young PR people in the industry.
If you missed the event, it was great to see young, passionate PR people who are highly interested in the industry. From women working in corporate Ghana with students who came to learn the rules of the profession.
The women who spoke had to learn all the lessons they taught the hard way when shaping the image of their organisation. It was certainly a successful event; attendees were absorbing information and networking with the professionals.
After an informative weekend like this, I believe the next generation of women in PR now knows that PR is not easy; patience is a must, embrace change, distinguish yourself and go digital.