The next generation of PR pros: IPR, Ghana can aid you, but your future is in your hands

AAIA_wDGAAAAAQAAAAAAAAqwAAAAJDc1OTFkNDNkLWFjN2QtNGViYS04ZjA0LWE4YTJjYTEwNzMwZA

By: Michael Bruce

Last week I attended the Institute of Public Relations, Ghana’s 24th annual general meeting (AGM) in Kumasi, the first time an AGM by the Institute held outside the capital, Accra, a bold move that paid off.

During the two-day event, I met other practitioners from different industries – telecommunications, energy, banking, security, academia, among others.

It was a real opportunity to learn from peers and discuss the current state of the industry. That said; what got my attention most was the outreach programme with the PR students at the Christian Service University College.

It was great to see practitioners such as the President of IPR, Elaine Sam, Gayheart Mensah, Shirley Toni-Kum, Kwame Gyan and Ivy Naa Koshie Heward-Mills sharing top tips for success in a PR career and passing on their wisdom to the next generation of PR leaders.

While some practitioners urged the students to proactively identify ways to expand their expertise, others counselled them to become professionals who come forward with solutions that would help organizations to be profitable, transform lives and communities.

As a practitioner, I applaud IPR for organizing the outreach programme as part of the AGM. However, I believe that the next generation of PR leaders are emerging and the Institute needs to focus more on the industry’s future talent.

The next generation of PR pros are young, daring, passionate about the profession and aware of the digital revolution, but they need guidance; IPR needs to improve its access to young pros.

The Institute needs to do a lot more about improving the understanding of exactly what PR is among the students in the country. The PR profession is constantly evolving and those that don’t keep up with the pace will inevitably get left behind.

It’s important that IPR shows leadership to enable the students to make the choices that will support their future careers. In Kumasi, I met some of the students who wondered if they would even secure jobs after graduation.

Others are fighting to be accepted into an internship programme with organizations. But, I believe IPR and those of us in the industry can help by aiding the next generation of PR pros with a sense of direction.

Today, technology has changed the PR industry. There are so many different channels, and the challenge for we practitioners is how to reach audiences. But thankfully, the next generation of PR pros grew up in smartphone era – they are attached to their phones 24-hours. This is an opportunity for IPR to blog, tweet and post short videos about PR to interact with the students – there is value in engaging people on social media. I need not emphasize that social media now is a critical factor to any successful PR strategy.

Like the outreach, we had in Kumasi, workshops will also offer practitioners the opportunity to share insights on successful campaigns, industry trends and build a relationship with the students.

Also, there is a need to motivate and inspire students because sometimes they don’t have a plan in place after school. Having practitioners with experience speaking at universities to talk about their career moments’ will help the students to start their PR careers on a good note. It will also help the students to determine which area they want to pursue.

For my future pros, inasmuch as, IPR has a role to equip you to become better PR pros, the buck stops with you. Note that your university degree is not enough; you need critical skills that will prepare you for the real world.

The PR industry in Ghana needs megastars like you – your ideas and opinions. But to seat at the table, you need attributes such as;

•   Be willing to learn

•   Have good writing skills

•   Be a good storyteller

•   Understand the players in media organizations and how they make decisions

•   Understand how reporters and editors think and work

•   Embrace numbers

•   Detail oriented

•   Have thick skin

•   Be patient

•   Form relationships

•   Multitask and demonstrate results

Advertisements

Businesses must adopt effective communication and public relations – Cynthia Lumor

cynthia_lumorr
Cynthia Lumor

The Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana, Cynthia Lumor, has urged aspiring Executives and CEOs to see corporate communications and public relations as integral parts of a business,
According to her, they contribute positively to business success and sustainability by building internal and external goodwill for sustained competitive and business advantage.

Sharing insights during the breakout session of the 2017 Festival of Ideas organized by Legacy and Legacy in Accra, Mrs. Lumor stated that corporate communications and public relations should be part of a well-planned, well executed, cohesive integrated communications strategy seeking to link organizations with identified stakeholders.

“The decision by customers to patronize a company’s products and services, as well as investment, regulatory and policy decisions are hugely influenced by credibility and trust, which are built over time and influenced by stakeholder experience with a company’s actions and communications,” she said. She emphasized the need to develop an effective, well-thought out plan that fits within the goals of the organisation, with clear timelines and monitoring, metrics for measurement, and the flexibility for adjustment where necessary.

“Knowing your business, understanding the company’s vision, goals and strategy, as well as the broader industry and the needs and expectations of stakeholders is extremely important; that knowledge will drive the relevance and effectiveness of your communications and PR strategy,” Mrs. Lumor stated.

She advised communications practitioners to be proactive in the anticipation and identification of issues, to better implement mitigation plans before they turn into crises. Reiterating the importance of crisis management planning, she stated that a good crisis management plan includes comprehensive analyses and plans for possible and potential crises. “Treat it as a living document that needs to be examined frequently. Additionally, when there is a crisis elsewhere – in another company, another industry, another country, another region – consider if it could happen with your company and if you have an effective plan in place,” she said.

In the area of employee communications, Mrs Lumor said employees are every company’s best ambassadors, thus it is important to engage them effectively and frequently. “They must understand the company’s vision, goals and strategy and the part they play in achieving them. Factor them in the rollout plan of all your communications activities and the results will be phenomenal.”

Source: Edward Adjei Frimpong l thebftonline.com

IPR Ghana elections slated for October

1_10937371

The Institute of Public Relations (IPR), Ghana, has fixed Friday, October 20, 2017 for the election of officers for its council during its 24th Annual General Meeting slated for Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
Nominations for the various positions: president, vice-president, honorary secretary, deputy honorary secretary and treasurer opened on Monday, August 7, 2017, and will close on Monday, August 28, 2017 at 4 p.m.

Statement

In a statement signed by the Chairman of the IPR Electoral Committee, Mr Charles Nii Ayiku Ayiku, the institute explained that in accordance with Article VIII (2) of the IPR Constitution and Article V (2) (b &c) of its bye-laws, “Only members in good standing shall have the right to vote. This includes affiliate, associate and accredited members.”

The statement asked members desiring to offer themselves for election to any of the council offices to collect nomination forms from the secretariat or request soft copies to be emailed to them.

“Current officers are eligible to serve another term in office and thus are eligible for re-nomination except for the position of the honorary secretary where the current occupant has served the maximum two terms and cannot serve in the same office,” the statement added.

Source: Daily Graphic

Government PR must seek to mobilize all behind it’s vision – Gayheart Mensah

 

img_20161105_111939
Gayheart Edem Mensah

Public Relations (PR) Personality of the Year 2016, Gayheart Edem Mensah, has suggested that one of the key roles of Government PR is to mobilize Ghanaians behind the vision and major objectives of the government. That, he believes, is an area where the PR Machinery of successive governments have struggled to deliver on.

Speaking on YFM’s Ryse N Shyne programme, Gayheart, who is Vodafone Ghana’s External Affairs and Legal Director, called on the managers of the government’s PR to undertake to deepen Ghanaians’ understanding of government’s vision for the country, particularly for the key sectors which drive growth and development. That he believes is the surest way to obtain the support and contribution of the ordinary Ghanaian to the attainment of the country’s vision.

“I am persuaded that today, a huge chunk of the youth, workers and the middle class in Ghana know next to nothing about the vision of government beyond campaign promises. At best, what you will get from them, should they be asked about the government’s vision for the country, is likely to be diverse views.”

He said he was willing to be a member of a team from the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) to support the government in this effort at mobilising all behind the endeavours at attaining a commonly articulated vision for Ghana.
“That will be a source of motivation and empowerment for Ghanaians to contribute to the success of our country”.

The IPR Personality of the Year said he was looking to draw on his vast experience in PR practice across mainstream media, manufacturing, banking and finance, oil and gas, the telecommunications sector and academia in documenting practical PR approaches and solutions to serve as a guide to upcoming PR practitioners and students.

“I look forward to making insightful, informed and practical submissions to help the PR profession, organisations and government communication machinery to deliver value through the application of PR solutions.

On how PR practitioners can remain relevant to their organizations, Mr. Mensah said they need to acquire the relevant skills and competencies that are in demand in the changing world of the profession. “The knowledge of how to develop, implement and monitor various PR strategic interventions that contribute to achieving an organization’s objectives is critical. So is stakeholder mapping and analysis in order to better understand your organization’s publics and deploy effective and impactful channels and messages to reach them.”

Gayheart is a sought-after speaker on Public Relations themes and has, in the year under reference, shared ideas on various PR topics at the Philanthropy Forum, the Annual Conference of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) and forums of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP). Gayheart has also been a regular speaker at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), an adjunct lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA).

He is also a resource person for the IPR Accreditation Courses.

Aside his 13 years of practice as a journalist, Gayheart has practised Public Relations at senior management level across four different companies – Unilever Ghana (4 years), Barclays (5 years), Tullow Oil (3 years in Ghana and 2 years in London) and over 3 years at Vodafone Ghana.

The Institute of Public Relations (IPR) is the professional body for Public Relations practitioners in Ghana. It exists to provide a professional development, structure and the requisite recognition for the practice of Public Relations across the country. The IPR last year adjudged Gayheart the best PR Practitioner for the year.

Source: Ghanaweb.com

My experience on Social media and the changing nature of the PR Profession

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAwaAAAAJGFkNzRmYzI4LTc0ZmItNDM4Ny05OGFlLTE1NzBmZjZiNjI4OA

By Gifty Bingley

In 2010 I had to write a business case on why the organisation I was working with then, needed a social media presence. The approval process was quick and soon we had Facebook and Twitter accounts.  In addition to the company website, we had a Flickr account for our official photos. We would often embed the photos from our Flickr page into the news stories on our website. We also got training from the digital gurus in our London and New Delhi offices.

In those years, social media was still evolving and it was therefore not necessary for brands to have a presence. Fast forward to 2017 and if your brand has no presence on any social media platform then you probably don’t exist even for B2B. This includes Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest just to mention a few. This turf is where all the stakeholders are, including consumers. It is part of our everyday lives and transcends communities, nations and continents.

Social media has changed our jobs as PR professionals. The broader goal of positively managing the reputation of the organisations we work with remain the same, however the approach including the strategies, tactics and timing to reach out to the target group and wider stakeholders has significantly.

As professionals managing the online reputation of organisations, we have over the years improved on content – from the early days of using it to blast social pitches to consumers mainly for sales and marketing leads. Now we are finding innovative ways to be consistently engaging, relevant and exciting.

For starters, our ‘influencers’ have expanded to include both traditional and new media. On any single day, there are millions of conversations happening online about people, places, organisations, products and services just to mention a few.  And there are numbers to prove their reach, prominence, tone and net add-value just to mention a few.

Combined with traditional media, social media is powerful, we can reach thousands of people. It has amplified the impact of most successful campaigns, which have a mix of both traditional and social media strategies. As an example, our initial research for the Tigo Shelter for Education programme showed it would be impactful because we were contributing to education in the most profound way – providing infrastructure for teachers and children that were learning in makeshift structures. In documenting the journey towards the transformation of the schools, we created content to reach out to both traditional and online media and feedback was phenomenal. The brand scores showed considerable improvements especially on the emotional attributes.

Again, thanks to social media, working on low budget campaigns is now easy and fun. We have our own channels and our influencers include journalists, bloggers, employees and customers. These days even our own employees could be social media influencers – if they have established some credibility, have a large following and can persuade them. Can you imagine the cost of being able to reach hundreds of thousands of people across the world and the price tag on the rate cards prior to social media? Now we own our own channels and can plan content and engagement. And it’s easy to measure the impact. Low budget campaigns though require very thorough planning.

Again, reaching the audience has never been this quick. Prior to social media the only way we could reach the target audience and the wider stakeholders was through traditional media, which often took hours or days sometimes before the press release is published. With social media, we can provide real time updates as the event/activity is happening with photos and videos. It’s also easy to get feedback and measure the sentiments. I will add though that it has heightened customer demands and expectations, often putting us under pressure to respond to issues tactfully and swiftly, managing and guiding conversations positively.

It is the place where the news breaks or goes viral – thanks to the power of citizen journalism. As an example, I was with my team at the Ghana Institute of Public Relations lecture in April 2016 with our mobile phones on silent mode when our friend and blogger, Chris-Vincent Agyapong broke the news on Facebook that our employer had introduced an ‘unfriendly’ maternity leave policy for contract staff. In summary, the policy was that all women who went on maternity leave would have to apply for leave without pay and reapply for their position after maternity break.

Within an hour, the post had been shared a hundred times over with people putting their own spin on it. Some employees had been tagged, the brand was being butchered without our side of the story. This incident happened in the evening and reacting immediately was of essence as by morning all the traditional media would have picked it up without our input. We quickly developed a press line and humanized it with the CEO posting to the thread of conversation generated on the blogger’s page. The feedback after her post was much better and the following morning both traditional and social media carried the story with our response. Within 48 hours, the issue was resolved and we shared the feedback. On that fateful evening, time was our biggest enemy.

I previously worked in a newsroom for many years and I absolutely loved the buzz – always active with journalists working the beat. In PR, social media gives us the opportunity to build and develop a 24/hour news cycle and vary our content – albeit not as intense as the newsroom. Certainly, the brands we work for are bigger than just the end product or service they produce/offer. We could engage consumers on how our business is being socially responsible, celebrate and build the profile of some of our outstanding performers/employees, learning and development initiatives that would lead to specific results for consumers etc.

For both B2C and B2B, we can still vary our content and introducing emotional attributes like how the product was developed, the process, the problem that it solves, even the teams that worked on it and dynamics among them.  The key though is to link such posts to how consumers or stakeholders would benefit.

In conclusion, I would like to add that I am excited to see our CEO’s and business leaders gradually developing an active online presence. From my experience in the past, such digital engagements humanise our brands – creating thought-and-progressive leadership, transparency and trust among consumers and employees. These are important elements that strengthen public perception about businesses and adds to credibility. As PR professionals, what we need to do is to think through what is relevant and attention-seeking and support our business leaders.

The next generation of women in PR: Embrace change, distinguish yourself and go digital

AAEAAQAAAAAAAA3eAAAAJGQyNjcxYTY4LWVjOTEtNGQ5Ni05MjUxLTBmM2RlNTdjYjQyYwBy: 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.

PR Ghana Networking Event slated for 26th May

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-14 at 15.32.20
F Project will host a PR/Communications Industry networking and cocktail event on Friday, 26th May, 2017 at Villa Monticello Hotel, allowing industry professionals in Ghana, an opportunity to connect, engage and reflect on the role of communications in Africa’s development.
This event will be one of concurrent meetings around the world, as part of the 1st annual Africa Communications Week (ACW), which takes place between May 22 and May 26 2017. Countries such as Nigeria, India, Belgium, South Africa, and Kenya will have similar networking events to dialogue on the role of communications in Africa’s development

Powered by a virtual international team of multi-talented communications professionals who share a vision for transformative change in Africa through strategic communications and in partnership with the World Communication Forum Association, Africa Communications Week’s key objective is to encourage and engage communicators across the board to critically assess how the communication industry impacts Africa’s development.

ACW is open to all communicators with an expertise/interest in Africa, from African countries and across the globe. “Along with other fields such as economics, agriculture and technology, communications now has the opportunity to position itself and demonstrate its relevance as a real management discipline that contributes significantly to Africa’s socio-economic rise. And this is a collective effort that the industry should lead”, explains co-founder Annie Mutamba.

The Africa Communications Week is supported by an advisory board of seasoned communications professionals passionate about changing Africa’s narrative. They include:
  • Wynne Musabayana, Head of Communications, Africa Union
  • Yana Dubeykovskaya, President World Communication Forum Association
  • Moky Makura, Country Representative South Africa, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Mimi Kalinda, MD Africa Communication Group
  • Khalid Baddou, Head of Communication Africa, Western Union
  • Thierry Hot, Founder, Rebranding Africa Forum
  • Tidiane Dioh, Fonctionnaire International & Media specialist
ACW’s special report on the role of communications in Africa’s development will be published annually featuring the research and informed opinions of communication experts from over 40 countries.

ACW also promotes knowledge and professional development by hosting informative webinars and masterclasses as well as providing practical tools on how Africa focused communicators can begin to advance more realistic narratives about Africa.

“It’s time to critically assess our role and impact and take more deliberate actions to shaping Africa’s narrative,” says ACW co-founder Eniola Harrison.

Source: Cypress Entertainment