The Federal Government will benefit immensely from engaging well-trained public relations professionals to effectively manage its relationships with citizens, particularly youths and communicate policies to them to avoid misunderstandings.
Adekunle Dixon Odukoya, Senior Consultant, Strategy, with leading public relations and integrated communications consulting firm, Chain Reactions Africa (CRA), said this during a
recent appearance on TVC’s Business Nigeria.
Odukoya, who spoke on communication and reputation management trends in Nigeria’s PR industry, explained that deploying effective communication will help the government build bridges with the youth and regain lost trust.
Odukoya advised that the Federal Government should address the concerns of disenchanted youths rather than disregard them and use PR experts for the task. He explained that the era of the government talking to the citizens, including youth, through a single medium was gone and that multiple available platforms should be explored.
Odukoya said, “Communication is all about managing relationships, and you now have many youths that seem angry about many things. So, the first thing the government needs to do is to pay attention. Show that you are listening to them and begin to take actions that communicate that they are being heard. So how do we do that in Communication?
“We first aggregate public opinion because you can’t successfully take on a populist view without having a pulse on what people feel. In public relations, we regularly conduct online sentiment analysis or surveys amongst the citizenry to gauge what people are saying.
“You can’t have a true sense of what the public is saying if you only listen to radio stations; you can’t have a true sense of what the public feels if you only sit on Twitter. It’s a very toxic environment out there. But there’s some truth there.
So, we aggregate a lot of this through research. That research will give us insight. And the government has to take advantage and leverage those insights in formulating policies that will address the concerns of the youth.”
Odukoya further noted that effective deployment of communication by seasoned PR experts would help address the ignorance among youth.
He said, “There’s a lot of ignorance flying around, but that ignorance cannot be allowed to grow. It would be best if you found a way of bringing the youth back by providing information and educating them. What are those things causing them anger?
And when you communicate, you must be very careful about how you frame. Try as much as possible not to negate their claims. As PR practitioners, we should not be saying that Nigeria is not bad because, in that negation, we are also affirming their own negativity. We should be able to frame our messaging in affirmative ways that bring about optimism and reassurance of a better tomorrow.
“Lastly, are the channels through which we communicate with the youth. It should be what we call Transmedia.
What do I mean? Let’s rely on something other than the old ways of putting things in newspapers or putting things on news channels. The youth of today have developed an assortment of platforms. To communicate and build commonality, the government should take advantage of that multiplicity of media and not rely on things as they used to be.”
He concluded that the present administration must match policy implementation to leverage the positive perceptions garnered from the policy decisions taken so far in the early days, to enjoy a positive reputation down the line.