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