The shocking and painful death of Prof. Dora Akunyili, former Minister of information and communication on Saturday, 7th June, 2014, is a personal loss to me. She was a friend and a sister; but most importantly a true national reputation icon, who through her national service enhanced significantly the image of our country inside and outside. She was immensely passionate and honest in everything she did. Oh, death is so cruel! One day in July 2004, I dedicated my column in BusinessDay to analyze the personality of Dora, who at that time was the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). It was titled: “Dora Akunyili: A Public Relations Case Study.” That same day, my telephone rang, and behold, it was Dora Akunyili on the other end. I didn’t know how she got my telephone number since we didn’t have any personal relationship. “Is that Jossy?” she asked in a soft voice. “Yes, who am I speaking with?” I asked. “My name is Dora Akunyili. I am calling to thank you immensely for your article today. You have lifted my spirit today with every word you penned in that article. Daalu nwannem, daalu (thank you my brother, thank you!”) I was deeply touched by such action of a public officer who took out time to appreciate a kind word. As part of my heartfelt tribute to this unforgettable woman of our time, I wish to recall hereunder an excerpt from that article I wrote ten years ago: “We have said several times that Public Relations is not about telling lies to present a bad person, government, organisation, product or service in good light. Telling people that black is white; deceiving people into believing that something is good when actually it is not. “Public Relations helps governments, organisations and individuals to build a good image and reputation through good character, good behaviour, people-oriented policies and programmes, excellent products and services, sincerity of purpose, honesty, integrity and transparency. “Today, let’s use Dr. (Mrs) Dora Nkem Akunyili, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) as a case study in Public Relations. On Wednesday, July 14, 2004, she clocked 50 and the birthday anniversary was more of a national celebration and a time to pray for a woman who has shown in more ways than one that things can actually work in Nigeria. “She has shown that people who are sincerely committed to national service can actually make a difference in public life. And everyone sees what she is doing. Without fear or favour, without sentiment of tribe or religion, and without pandering to the sweet smell of money, she has done her job creditably. In Nigeria today, the fear of NAFDAC is the beginning of wisdom for producers of drugs, cosmetics, beverages, canned foods and even “Pure Water”. Does that medicine have a NAFDAC Number? What is the expiry date? Is that product fake or genuine? Almost all Nigerians now ask these questions before they buy or consume any of the products regulated by NAFDAC. Even the poor, thirsty man on the street would not buy a sachet of pure water unless he is sure it has NAFDAC certification. “Before the Iron Lady came on board, NAFDAC was almost moribund. Producers and importers of fake, adulterated or substandard drugs and food items had a field day— killing millions of innocent Nigerians and smiling daily to their blood money. Nobody dared the barons because they were regarded as deadly and untouchable. “But when Akunyili came, she dared the dangerous lions in their dens. Several times, they tried to kill her but the collective prayers of Nigerians saved her life. I have not seen any other Nigerian who is so genuinely loved by the public as Dr. Mrs Akunyili. I wonder how Nigeria would be if there were 50 other persons in executive positions in government who are like Dora Akunyili. “Some other person in NAFDAC could have just sat back to become a multi-billionaire by conniving with criminals at the expense of 140 million Nigerians. Such a person could buy pages of newspapers or airtime on radio and television to tell us that he is our messiah. He or she would pay for chieftaincy titles to glorify himself or herself. It is not so with our dear Dora! A Public Relations delight “You may be wondering where Public Relations comes in here. Oh, everything! Dr. Mrs Akunyili is a PR delight. Marketers of the old school say that a good product sells itself. This is quite true of our NAFDAC boss. She does not need anyone to lie that she is doing something positive. What she is doing is there for all to see! What she has achieved so far is not hidden. No gimmicks. No white-washing. No magic. No abracadabra! “As an analyst, I can place Akunyili’s success story on seven pillars: firstly, Dr. Mrs Akunyili, a consultant pharmacologist at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka was quite qualified for the job she was given. So it was not just a case of man-know-man. Secondly, she came to NAFDAC with a clear vision of what she wanted to do. With her experience as a pharmacologist, she knew what to do right from day one. Thirdly, she set a goal for herself and has been working assiduously to achieve that goal. Fourthly, she seems to be a team player, the manager who carries his subordinates along; who gives them a sense of belonging; who gives them their own tasks to perform and follows them up with supervision; who motivates staff, rewards excellence and honesty and disciplines erring staff. “Fifthly, she seems to be one who leads by example. No double standards. When she says “don’t take bribe,” she too abides by it. She does not recognize sacred cows. She is not corrupt. She is diligent and hardworking. Although she is cheerful, she is firm and decisive in her actions. She is sincere in her dealings. She is a no-nonsense personality. “Sixthly, she seems to be a good family woman — a wife and mother. I was told she is happily married to Dr. J.C Akunyili and their first daughter got married recently. Seventhly, and most importantly, she is godly. This is important for genuine success (The Bible calls it good success!) and divine protection. She does not need to pay the so-called prayer warriors and powerful men-of-God to receive divine protection. “I don’t think Mrs Akunyili is a saint, though. As a mortal, she cannot be perfect. In fact, she has never claimed to be perfect but if we put her and others on a scale, we can say without fear of contradiction that she is, indeed, good! Her tract record, her character and her achievements have earned her good image. Today, she has a good reputation she worked for. Criminals dread her. The godly honour her. Everyone respects her. Happy belated birthday, madam!” In the same vein, may I humbly say, adieu adorable Dora. May your very gentle soul rest in perfect peace, amen! Dr Jossy Nkwocha, PhD, KSC, a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) is the head of Corporate Communications / Special Adviser to the Managing Director, Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (IEPL), Port Harcourt. He was General Editor of Newswatch Magazine.
With your bio and sharing options ready to go, it’s time to start posting attractive photos that draw people in and compel them to follow you. Instagram has plenty of filters to help you enhance your photos. Do a little testing to find the right one that suits individual photos and gets the most audience response. Or, if you prefer to keep a consistent photo stream, choose a single filter to use on all of your shared photos. As a business, it can be tempting to post basic photos of your product. That’s not likely to draw Sharing behind-the-scenes photos—maybe a company event or a typical day in the office—is interesting and makes you more accessible to your audience. These personal glimpses help your followers feel connected to you on a different level than the usual business-customer relationship. Make the most of hashtags Hashtags are a huge contributor to the success of your Instagram efforts. They make it easy to track who is talking about you or participating in a specific campaign. Even better, when you share your photo to Facebook or Twitter, the hashtags show up there as well. Make sure the hashtags you choose are relevant to your business—do plenty of research to find out what hashtags your customers are using. Researching also ensures you’re not using something associated with someone else’s campaign. Take advantage of video posts Instagram is about visual content. That means you don’t have to focus solely on sharing photos. Video is fair game too. Have you taken advantage of Instagram’s option to create 15-second videos? Video showing reactions to your product, more behind-the-scenes content and funny promotions all help bring your brand to life on Instagram. Wrapping up The power of visual communication is hard to ignore. Take advantage of Instagram’s power by optimizing your Instagram presence and planning creative campaigns that show off your company’s personality. Tips for Writing the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter Moshood Isah Have you ever imagined why you feel you fit a particular portfolio perfectly but you are still not offered a particular job? As matter of fact, the job may end up with the person that least deserved the job. Well it is not magic but what we generally refer to as packaging. The way and manner a prospective applicants market himself goes a long way in helping him to find that dream job. Many applicants have sent their resumes to avalanche of organizations but were not even considered for aptitude test not to talk of interview. In the cause of my dilemma, I stumbled on an article on writing a perfect resume and cover letter otherwise known as application letter. The article analyzes over three million resumes and cover letters and determined what distinguishes a five-star resume or cover letter from those ones that have been trashed continuously. I found out that, a strong resume or cover letter is made up of strong component parts: how it describes past experience, how long it runs, what it includes, and what it leaves out. The key takeaways are to keep it short, keep it relevant, create sections like “objective,” “summary,” “work history,” and “training,” and, as explained by professionals, “present yourself as someone who is ready to step right in and help a company’s bottom line.” Apparently, even the way that a verb is conjugated can make a considerable difference in self-presentation. “It was found that words that made the jobseeker seem like an inexperienced work-in-progress, like ‘first,’ ‘need,’ ‘hard,’ or ‘develop,’ had a very negative effect on resume ratings,” wrote Jones over email. While “develop” was on the list of words that make it 79% less likely a resume or cover letter will get a five-star rating, “development” was included in a list of words that make it 70% more likely a resume or cover letter will get a five-star rating. It was also a bit surprising to find out that, keywords had an effect on perceived resume quality, but how strong the correlation between keywords and resume quality was. More so, to my utter amazement, I discovered that, areas we love so much in our CVs like Languages, personal interest, accomplishments, and hobbies were all listed as sections to avoid. In a nutshell, one final tip to strengthen a resume or cover letter included saying ‘thank you,’” and “display confidence that you will get the job done.” These are perhaps not surprising findings, but the last point is particularly relevant to those who may be new to the workforce or to a particular profession and do, in fact, consider themselves a “work-in-progress. Thus, “Even if you are relatively inexperienced, showing that you are confident and can help right now is key.”
Instagram engagement, they say, is 58 times higher per follower than Facebook. Hence, it is advisable that firms should not underestimate its marketing potential. Here is how to make your brand stand out on Instagram to gain more followers and bring better exposure to your business. Optimise the basics Research shows that people remember 20 per cent of what they read and 80 per cent of what they see. You’re probably already using your logo as your profile picture and your company name as your profile name everywhere from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn. It makes sense to add Instagram to that list. Consistency in social media helps people quickly recognise your content no matter where they are. Whether you already have an Instagram account or are just setting one up, make sure your basic settings are complete and provide as much relevant information as possible. In particular, pay attention to your Instagram bio. Provide a brief description of what your company does, and inject your company’s voice and personality. Include a link to your website so people can find you on the Internet as well. Share on other social profiles Chances are if you have a significant number of followers on other social networks, many of those same fans will be interested in following your Instagram account. Let them know how to find you and invite them to join you there. Share your Instagram updates to Facebook and Twitter (or wherever you have the most followers). Your website is also an ideal place to promote your Instagram account and encourage visitors to follow you. Put an Instagram badge in the website sidebarso people can click and follow in seconds.
THE Federal Government is to develop an E-government Master Plan that would enable it harmonize all the projects in order to have a strategic focus. Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, who disclosed this at the opening of 2014 Domain Name System(DNS) Forum in Abuja, observed that government embraced the E-Government initiative to increase public administration efficiency and help Nigerians have better access to government services and information. Johnson noted that Information Technology is being deployed in the running of government business to ensure transparency and efficiency in governance and public service delivery. The Minister stated that the Government Service Portal (GSP) and Government Contact Centre (GCC) has been established, adding that the portal provides a single window technology access by citizens and other stakeholders to government services being provided by various Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Represented by the Director of E-Government in the Ministry, Tope Fashedemi, the minister pointed out that the federal government has embarked on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which has helped it to save billions of Naira and helped to eliminate the Ghost Workers Syndrome” in the public service. She noted that the latest United Nations e-Government Development ranking indicated that Nigeria has improved by 21 points as it previously ranked 162 and now ranks 141 out of 193 countries rated in the recent UN Global e-Government Development Index for 2014. It also now ranks 97 in the e-Participation index, an improvement of 22 points up from 75 in 2012. Also speaking, the President, Africa Top Level Domains Organization, Dr. Paulos Nyirenda said that Africa has the lowest penetration for domain names, Internet access and content development. He said, “This is the reason Africa Top Level Domains Organization is very active in capacity because Africa is lagging behind than any other region in the world. We need to build our decision makers. Part of the problem with Africa is that they are not sustainable, Africa countries need to build better business plan, raise money to make them sustainable. We need to build capacity to run the business a little bit better”. Nyirenda observed that one of the major group to target in the expansion of Domain Name business in Africa are the youths, as the industry has the capacity to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in Africa. “We have trained a lot of Registry operators, we assist to develop policy and advise countries on procedures for hosting Domain Names. This will help revitalize the industry as we get more registrars and employ a few more people. The establishment knows that Internet is a major drive for socio-economic development”, he stated. In a keynote address, Sikiru Shehu, a member of the Executive Board of Directors of NiRA and Registrar, Council of Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, said that today’s increasingly digital world has elevated the Domain Name industry globally adding that a recent VeriSign report recent attacks targeting enterprise websites have created awareness on how critical the domain name system is for the reliability of internet services and the potentially catastrophic impact of a DNS outage. According to him, the domain name industry is becoming a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) of different countries and has brought about the need to look at ways of taking advantage of the new opportunities through investment and monetization. “As record numbers of Africans go online, African Businesses and governments are turning to Internet and the domain name industry to help them elevate their work to the next level. In this digital age, the domain name industry has become an important tool for communication, businesses and education. In her remarks, President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) Mrs. Mary Uduma noted that Domain Name business is an industry that has developed in other climes and stressed the need for Africa and Nigeria to make money out of Domain Name industry. She noted that the event was convened to create awareness and sensitize our people that there is money in Domain Name business if properly harnessed. “We are looking at the digital economy and how to create employment for our youths. When this industry is properly developed, we will not be talking of unemployment because they can work from their homes. Infrastructure is a key to increasing Internet penetration”, she stated
SUB-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria and the Middle East counterpacts are expected to record about 15.1 per cent growth rate in Internet penetration between now and 2018. This, according to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index report 2013 to 2018 will see additional 431million Internet users in the regions by the period. Already, Nigeria’s Internet user is estimated to be around 63 million, connected through the GSM platform. The VNI also informed that the global Internet Protocol traffic would increase nearly three-fold over the next four years due to more Internet users and devices, faster broadband speeds and more video viewing, among others. Cisco, a worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, said this at the conclusion of an annual study. Globally, the study predicted that Internet traffic would grow more than 20 per cent by 2018. While the MEA region is expected to see about 15.1 per cent Internet growth, the regions IP traffic within the same period will see five-fold growth and a 38-per cent CAGR. The Cisco report informed that with the FIFA World Cup 2014 gradually coming to an end, tens of millions of people were viewing games and/or highlights via the Internet. Explaining the report to journalists in Lagos, at the weekend, General Manager, English West Africa, Cisco, Dare Ogunlade disclosed that video streaming and IP broadcast of the World Cup are anticipated to generate 4.3 exabytes of Internet traffic, which is three times the amount of monthly traffic generated by (this year’s World Cup host city). “In addition, Internet traffic generated by the 60,000 people in a stadium and travelling to games is forecast to surpass the average busy-hour traffic from all 94 million smartphones in Brazil,” he stated. According to the report “to place the World Cup in context, global IP traffic is expected to reach 132 exabytes per month by 2018, which is the equivalent to 8.8 billion screens streaming the FIFA World Cup final game in Ultra-HD/4K at the same time.
Facebook began reducing brands’ organic reach late last year to indirectly force companies to pay to promote content to their own audiences. Besides, Google has stopped investing in Google+ after three years of the launch due to the social network’s poor user adoption rate. While Google+ has never been a prominent network for gaining major brand awareness or customer engagement, it gave brands an outlet to push content and improve SEO. Now with Google ceasing to encourage consumers to use its social platform, companies will have one less platform to deliver content to their target audiences. About 44 per cent of Twitter users have never sent a tweet. These users could be fake or just don’t want to tweet or interact with other individuals on Twitter. Whatever the reason may be, this phenomenon limits companies’ opportunities to build relationships with consumers or gain free advertising through retweets or replies. Although these social media changes and news are frustrating, there are ways to overcome them. Here’s how: Develop an integrated marketing program. Social media shouldn’t be your sole online marketing channel. It should be a part of your overall integrated digital marketing program. Balance your mix with activities such as email marketing, search engine marketing, or guest blogging. In addition to digital marketing, leverage traditional advertising approaches such as networking, tradeshows, seminars, and product demos. Select the channels that best support your business goals, and understand the role of each channel. Decide on the best mix you need to gain brand exposure and customer engagement. This better-rounded, integrated approach to digital and traditional marketing helps you avoid placing all your eggs in one basket and suffering severe setbacks when social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn make a sudden algorithm or product change. Use it as a product catalogue. Use social media to give consumers a convenient channel to learn more about your brand. According to eMarketer, 37 per cent of US shoppers use social media to research products or services that they’re considering buying. This means that consumers are going on companies’ Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn pages to learn about the benefits and features of their offerings and compare them with competing brands. This new, digitalized shopping behavior indicates that brands must be on social media regardless of the changes in social networks because consumers who are interested in purchasing your products or services will proactively visit your social media pages to learn about your offerings. Leverage it to remain in consumers’ evoke sets. Even though 44% of Twitter users have never sent a tweet or most LinkedIn users don’t interact with brands on LinkedIn, if your target audience is on a certain social channel, you should be too. Being present on the same social platforms as your audience helps you expose your brand to your prospects so that they will be more likely to include you in their evoke sets. Evoke set is defined as “a group of relevant brands that a prospective consumer is favorably familiar with when they are thinking about making a purchase. The goal of many marketing campaigns is to establish their business brand firmly among the evoked set of products considered by most target consumers when making a purchase decision.” For example, Urban Decay, an American cosmetics company displays images of their lip glosses, eyeliners, lip plumper, and bronzers on their Pinterest page. This tactic not only helps Urban Decay increase customers’ purchase intention, but also reminds consumers of their offerings so that when potential buyers want to buy a cosmetic product, they’ll be more likely to buy from Urban Decay. Social media challenges are daunting, but they’re surmountable. By utilizing the three tactics above, you can use social networks more purposefully and suitably based on their nature so that you can optimize their impact.
Facing censure at home and overseas for a perceived failure to protect civilians from violent Islamists, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has launched an international media offensive to try to turn the tide of public opinion in his favour, Reuters reports. But those efforts have backfired abroad, where many greet his defence with scepticism, and at home, where he was slated for hiring U.S. public relations (PR) firm Levick for $1.2 million, in what critics called a waste of money. Jonathan, and Nigeria as a whole, have suffered a worsening image problem since Boko Haram sect kidnapped more than 276 school girls from Chibok, Borno State on April 14. The attack overshadowed Nigeria becoming Africa’s biggest economy after a GDP rebasing in April, and its hosting of the World Economic Forum in May. Security is a major headache ahead of national elections in February that are likely to be the closest-fought since democracy returned in 1999. An opinion piece by Jonathan in the Washington Post last month – in which the president wrote “nothing is more important than bringing home Nigeria’s missing girls,” but added that he had to “remain quiet” for their safety – drew open scorn. Soon after, the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah published a satirical send-up of Jonathan’s op-ed. Her piece included lines such as: “Nothing is more important than stopping the machinations of Boko Haram, except maybe my desire to keep up appearances and show the international community that Nigeria was winning the war against the group.” Analyst Bismarck Rewane, CEO of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives, thinks the president’s timing was wrong. “That op-ed backfired partly because the negative narrative was still so strong,” he told Reuters. “But often the PR guys advising want the upfront fees and don’t care about the result.” Jonathan’s media team declined to comment on their PR strategy. A presidency source confirmed Levick’s contract but said such PR initiatives were standard practice for governments. “All over the world governments engage PR firms and lobbyists to achieve certain objectives within a particular time frame,” the source, who declined to be named, told Reuters. In this case those objectives involve reversing months of damaging publicity over the Chibok girls’ abduction, magnified by a #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign that drew in celebrities including Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie. In the past week Jonathan’s articulate and Washington-savvy Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has toured the world doing press interviews, for example with CNN’s Christine Amanpour. These often include earnest assertions that the Nigerian president is “doing his best” to get the girls back. Ultimately, the bad publicity is unlikely to doom Jonathan’s 2015 re-election chances. In Nigeria, patronage can produce a ballot win more reliably than perceived performance, analysts say, as was proved in last month’s governorship poll in southwestern Ekiti state.
We hear it from senior PR and marketing executives time and again: The most effective CSR programs are those that have solid buy-in from the rank-and file (as opposed to aligning the brand to a cause that’s close to the CEO, but no one else in the organization). With that in mind, here are some tips to get your employees to preach the company’s CSR mission, with a hat tip to Faith Welling, VP and director of corporate responsibility for ICF International. > Define your CSR mission. What is your CSR mission? Are your employees familiar with that mission? Write it down. Communicate it broadly and often. Introduce the CSR mission during employee orientation. Publish it on your website. > Identify your employees’ passions and skills. What are your employees passionate about? In what activities do they excel? There are many approaches to determine your staff’s priorities and concerns. Take a survey; ask employees about the issues or causes that motivate them—such as addressing poverty, equity in education, environmental protection, etc. Publish a CSR article in your company newsletter or blog and invite employee feedback. > Note the intersection of passion and mission. Where do employees’ passions and skills converge with your CSR mission? Perhaps there is an overlap in the areas of education or environment or health. > Ensure senior executive commitment. Your volunteer program needs executive buy-in to ensure the best chance for success. If the C-suite supports the program and frequently discusses the volunteers’ accomplishments, they send a message that the volunteers’ work is important to the firm and to the leadership. > Provide a framework. Organize your employees by interest. For example, you might form a group focused on sustainability and another focused on community service. Or perhaps the overwhelming interest is quite specific, such as helping elementary students in disadvantaged communities succeed in math and science. Bring together those with a common interest
1. Solutions. Without a doubt, the most overused word in news release headlines, copy and corporate boilerplate. Every company claim to have a “synergistic, cutting-edge, value-added, outside-the-box, industry-leading, innovative, disruptive, world class, revolutionary solution to (fill in the blank).” 2. Synergy. The word means the combined entity is greater than the sum of its parts. In the corporate world, it most often refers to mergers. I can’t remember many mergers where “synergy” would describe the merged company. 3. Bleeding edge/Cutting edge. How many companies or products truly can claim such a lofty position? It’s getting pretty crowded out there on the edge. 4. Value-added. Shouldn’t the value you bring to your clients be intrinsic? Why are you adding it? 5. outside the box. Where are all the boxes from which every company has escaped? 6. Industry-leading/Leader. Judging by the use of these phrases, every company distributing a news release today is a leader. How is the company judging leadership? Is it by, International, national, regional, local? More so, is leader judged by Technology, revenue, profit, number of employees, offices? If everybody is leading, who’s following? 7. Innovative. Even companies or products that win awards for innovation are rarely innovative. 8. Disruptive. Quick, name five disruptive products released in the past year. Sorry, time’s up. But judging from news releases, there are hundreds. Remember, disruption takes a long time. 9. World class. Most often found in corporate boilerplate, the phrase “world class” has no real meaning. Whom are you measuring against? And no one ever says American class or Canadian class. Don’t use it. 10. Revolutionary. One definition is “constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” Along with innovative and disruptive, it is highly unlikely your new product is truly revolutionary. It’s just the kind of hyperbole you should avoid.
Following the position of the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) against purported moves by the Federal Government to hire foreign publicists to remedy damage to its reputation from the Chibok Girls scandal, we have received many an interesting response. While the majority of respondents appreciate the position, there are many otherwise well-meaning citizens who imagine that PRCAN is needlessly heating up the polity. Thankfully, the Federal Government quickly appreciated the umbrage and denied the purported moves, though there is information that at least four of our ministries have engaged foreign agencies already. The issue however remains on the burner. There are those who feel that local agencies have not offered service to government in tackling the matter, forgetting the fact that it is Government itself that is reaching out to the international firms without doing the same to agencies based herein. One of the most amazing responses came from a journalist on a critical beat germane to the subject. First, she felt “everyone is free to choose which firm should work for it” and also that “the intention of the Federal Government is to make these foreign agencies use international cases as case studies to proffer solutions to the issue on ground.” She then mentioned PriceWaterhouse Coopers as a foreign firm offering services in Nigeria. Many of those responses have come to the PRCAN Exco and to me as President. It is important therefore to establish a proper understanding of the issues involved. I quote extensively from my response to my journalist colleague. Dear reader, let us reason together. Government not free to hire just anybody. We have heard some arguments that the FG is free to choose any body it likes. Even some of our members have voiced this unfortunate position. No, the FG is not free to hire anybody to do the job. Otherwise, they might as well hire civil servants from England because the English civil service is one of the oldest and the most competent in the world. I am sure that if they did that we all would scream. Too, they might as well hire foreign journalists and staff NTA and News Agency of Nigeria with them. They ostensibly have more exposure and can also take Nigeria’s message abroad. You get the absurdity of the position? Our position is logical and premised on at least three grounds. 1. Nigerian Law. We have a Law in Nigeria that specifies who is qualified to offer public relations counsel in our country. That Act of the National Assembly is the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Act 16 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It says no one can practise public relations in Nigeria without due qualifications and registration with NIPR. Bye Law 3 of the same Act then created PRCAN and states that no company can offer PR counsel without registering the corporate entity with NIPR and PRCAN. Get it? Note that those provisions are not exclusive to Nigeria. As a public relations person, I cannot just walk into South Africa or the US or UK and serve as public relations counsel. They would not allow it. I have to register with their relevant body. The example of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is interesting. It is so because something may be similar but not identical. In this case it is even wrong. PWC is an international firm but in Nigeria it is properly domiciled and registered to offer the services that it renders in financial and management consulting though it is currently overstepping its bounds to areas for which it has no registration. We will get to tackle in due course firms that are encroaching on public relations as we grow the brand equity and strength of PRCAN. Thankfully, the brand equity of PRCAN is growing daily and our voice is being heard. 2. Responsibility of government to its citizens. All over the world, countries prefer their citizens and firms floated by their citizens to outsiders. Only colonial mentality that dominates government in Nigeria means they prefer foreigners. When foreign governments give aid, they tie it to purchasing goods and services (including consulting) from companies based in their country. Therefore, PRCAN says Nigerian government owes a duty (what the insurers call afiduciary obligation) to patronise Nigerian firms before any other from anywhere in the world. Note how suddenly there is a whopping $800m available to be spent while the Ministry of Information hitherto had no money to produce basic information and communication materials to do its job. We learn to do by doing. You grow muscles by exercising them. When Government releases $800m for public relations and Nigerian agencies handle it, locally and internationally, they also become “international”. Go check: most of those so called “international” agencies earned that status by handling jobs of USAID, DFID etc in other countries but paid for by their home government or companies that came from their countries and established in other markets. Those firms would then be able to offer direct employment to the thousands of young people with qualifications in communication, social and management sciences that form the bedrock for entry into the profession. The firms pay taxes here and contribute in several other ways to the economy and society. 3. Fallacy of foreign focus. Many people have fallen for this angle of saying the job of the so-called foreign PR firms is to address foreign media and audiences. Wrong. The problem is at home. The primary audience to address is the key stakeholders being Nigerian citizens. Once the government addresses the stakeholders here, the foreign media would also report that all is well in Nigeria on the Chibok matter. Note that for the foreign media to report the matter,they all came here or used their correspondents based in Nigeria. So it is false to speak of addressing the foreign audiences. The matter is here in Nigeria. Above all, PRCAN reiterates the imperative of strategic management of Government communication at Federal but also at State and Local Government levels. It is necessary to do so because of the growing disconnect between government and the citizenry in our land. The climate of suspicion and distrust is such that even where government has performed creditably, citizens doubt the veracity of such information. Government machinery also has to go beyond the old concept of “Information dissemination” to modern “communication”. One involves a mere transmission, as in the way the Yoruba of Nigeria described radio initially asasoro ma gba esi (the object that speaks without taking responses) while the other actively involves listening, acting on that feedback and communicating based on insight. That is the standard in modern marketing communication. With its attributes of flexibility, cost effectiveness and credibility, public relations is a lodestar of the communication disciplines in this age of multiple channels and fragmented audiences. It is important to get this right as our laudable rebasing has drawn attention to Nigeria’s actual economic size and potential. PRCAN welcomes foreign direct investment. Our member firms keep company with the best organisations in Nigeria, many of them representing FDI, so we have nothing against foreign agencies. Our concern is with doing things right. Published in Brandish pullout in Vanguard Newspaper, June 12, 2014 https://brandish.com.ng/a-government-and-its-princely-bungle/