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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

E’April Public Relations to organise first Women in Public Relations Ghana seminar

WIPR Ghana Seminar

E’April Public Relations, an Accra-based PR Agency in partnership with the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), Ghana will organise a one (1) day Women in Public Relations Ghana seminar.

The seminar which is premised on the theme “Empowering Today’s PR Woman”, will be the first of its kind in country. It will seek to provide an avenue for women in Public Relations, Communications and the media industry to discuss and deliberate on issues around the profession.

Speaking on the upcoming seminar, Founder of the event, Ms. Faith Senam Ocloo, indicated that the seminar will be an annual event which will be aimed at creating a platform for top PR Women professionals to educate, equip and empower young PR professionals and students in their chosen fields.

“Women in PR Ghana Seminar is dedicated towards mentoring the next generation of young PR and communication professionals who are confident of the skills they have acquired and well equipped to deliver when and wherever they find themselves”, she said.

Ms. Ocloo intimated that the Public Relations profession around the world is evidently dominated by women, with women inclusive at every level except for the very top which is typically reserved for men.

“The Women in PR Ghana Seminar will work towards bridging the gap and mentoring the younger generation to be ready and able to take up leadership roles in their various organizations” Ms Ocloo added

The Women in PR Ghana seminar will have renowned PR Women speaking on topics such as choosing a career in PR, pitching and building media relationship, social media for today’s PR woman, rising up the corporate ladder among others. It will also involve panel discussions on issues concerning the profession and personal branding.

The Women in PR Ghana seminar is scheduled to take place on Saturday 1st July, 2017 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the World Trade Center and will gather several PR students and professionals across various industries and organizations.

For further information and enquires, email at womeninprghana@gmail.com and follow Women in PR Ghana on all social media pages.

A rewarding career in Corporate Communication

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By: Gifty Bingley

Over the past few months, I have taken up some speaking engagements at the Ghana Institute of Journalism about a career in Communications. Outside the office hours, I am also mentoring two young ladies that have just started their careers in Internal Communication and Public Affairs. We meet once a month to talk through some of their projects and what the next steps should be. I have also volunteered as a communications consultant for some start-ups.

A career in Corporate Communications is very rewarding and fulfilling – no two campaigns or projects are the same and you often get to think and execute outside the proverbial box. The objectives, strategy and tactics are always different and depending on the target audience, product/service, budget … you can switch it up or down.

It is also exciting because it offers various specialized roles including Internal/Employee Communication and Engagements, Public Relations – this could include government relations, policy formulation and analysis or both, Corporate Social Responsibility/Social Investment and more recently Social Media/Digital engagements.

Often I find myself and members of the team in different roles other than our job titles and this varies from project to project.

Together as a team/department our single most important focus is to build a great reputation that drives a positive business climate for the organisation.

The bottom line for every business is to deliver value for shareholders. How do we deliver such value if there is no deliberate plan to building a great reputation for the business among various stakeholders?

This is summed up by the famous American Business leader, John Rockefeller, that “next to doing the right thing the most important thing is to let people know that you are doing the right thing.”

Employees need to know that you are doing the right thing, customers need to know and so do other stakeholders including the communities where we operate, regulators, government, shareholders, potential employees, etc.

And there are various ways of keeping these people informed, right from newsletters to press conferences, op-ed, roadshows, town-halls through to social media channels. Increasingly we need to think through our plans and develop compelling content.

It is not an easy job though especially for people who like to sit still. With the range of content, contacts and relations that we need to build including media, events and speaking engagements for senior executives, it is impossible to sit still unless you have an agency on a monthly retainer. Even then my suggestion is that you still go ahead to engage so that you can effectively add-on and support the agency.

Again, you would struggle if you are not open to learning new ways of communicating and measuring success. I will be honest here, what I used to practice in 2010 is far different from now, so much has changed including some of the tools and channels that I used to work with. It is constantly evolving. Like it or not, digital and social media has completely changed our relationship with the public and how we communicate with them and vice versa. The emphasis is ‘engagement’ rather than the ‘filter down theory’.

Like every job though, you need to work hard and consistently put in your very best to be successful. You would certainly love your role if you are passionate, very creative and resourceful, dedicated and committed and most importantly have integrity.

I transitioned from broadcast journalism to this field and it’s been very exciting. I have learnt a lot by reading, learning on the job – from line managers and colleagues. I often ask a lot of questions and I am not afraid to ask for help from colleagues and mentors. I also have a small group of friends who share ideas, discuss various strategies and tactics and I would certainly recommend joining bigger networks such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, UK and the  Institute of Public Relations, Ghana – the continuous professional development programmes have been amazing.

More and more business leaders in Ghana appreciate the value that we add to the business strategy and I certainly think it’s a great time to be a part of this profession.

 

Burson-Marsteller Africa CEO to head training workshop in Ghana

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Robyn De Villiers, will be in Ghana to facilitate a training workshop entitled Corporate Branding and Reputation Management.

The half day training program will take place on Wednesday, 26th of April, 2017, and will cover key areas in Corporate Branding and Reputation Management, such as the process involved in Discovering, Defining and Implementing a Corporate Brand.

The training program aims to bring corporate organisations and individuals to a common understanding of the significant impact of effective communications and the benefits derived from managing public relations well.

With 25-plus years’ experience in the field of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Robyn founded a network of in country communications consultancies which provides local and international clients with market relevant communications services in over 50 African countries.

The Burson-Marsteller Africa network, of which Infocus Burson-Marsteller, Ghana, is a partner, is recognized locally and globally as the premier communications network on the continent and in 2016, Robyn was recognized by the Holmes Report, the PR industry’s most highly regarded trade publication globally, with an EMEA SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

A respected communications practitioner, Robyn is called upon by business associations and local and international communications associations to address, and facilitate training for, communications professionals, public relations and corporate communications students and corporate audiences on a range of topics including reputation management, issue and risk management and crisis communications management.

Commenting on her upcoming visit to Ghana, Mrs De Villiers said, “It is a privilege to visit Accra again and to be able to highlight the importance of effective corporate branding and reputation management to communications executives and organisations in Accra.  Globally it is accepted that CEOs are responsible for managing the reputations of their organizations and protecting the value of their corporate brands.  In my experience, this message is beginning to hit home in countries across Africa and I value the opportunity to   share my understanding of this increasingly important area of overall business success during my visit.”

Alberta Akosa, General Manager of Infocus Burson-Marsteller said, “Infocus Burson-Marsteller is honored with the presence of Mrs. De Villiers, an internationally recognized thought leader in corporate communications to facilitate the training, we extend invitationsto Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Senior Executives and Marketing Managers to participate as the Ghanaian market is growing increasingly competitive and customers are gradually evolving. Corporate branding and reputation management form part of organizational DNA and cannot be over looked.”

– Source: Citifmonline.com