Public relation experts have unanimously agreed that research, data analysis and credible source of information were key to information management as well as public relations activities.
They said this at the Lagos State University (LASU) 14th virtual public lecture, with the title “COVID-19: THE PLACE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE NEW NORMAL”.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor ( Academics), Prof. Elias Wahab, stood in for the Vice-Chancellor, Professor ‘Lanre Fagbohun, SAN, NPOM.
In his keynote address, he appreciated the immense contributions of the Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations (CIPPR) to the paradigm shift in the image of the university, a departure from the past, “Through a combination of activities, such as the official bulletin, the social media engagements, WhatsApp messages.
“Others include; the LASU- INFO magazine, CIPPR Weekly, on LASU Radio, CIPPR media parley & awards, training for students’ union executives, students and many other activities, the unit has done well by repositioning LASU.
“It equally did well with the current rating of the university as 2nd in Nigeria, 11th in Africa and 501 in the world. We want to say thank you, for what you have done”, the Vice-Chancellor said.
The Vice-Chancellor was elated that the rebranding of the Institution, has made it the preferred university of choice, with the way applicants apply to get admitted for various degree programmes.
Also speaking, Mr Segun Mcmedal, Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations( NIPR), Lagos said that with the break out of the pandemic, it was an opportunity for the government to reach out to communication experts to find solutions.
“When a crisis breaks out, information comes from everywhere and sometimes, one doesn’t know who to trust.
“This pandemic is unprecedented, but, the most trusted source of information are the federal government, government agencies, NCDC, Governors, Commissioners, International agencies etc”, he emphasised.
“The job of public relations officers should be recognised, he added.
Mcmedal averred that research was fundamental to providing credible information, which would form the fulcrum of data analysis for contents.
“A public relations officer must be conversant with media managers, content creators as well as writers to make his job seamless.
“Finally, I urge information and public relations officers, to always ensure that whatever they send to the media houses were credible and laced with facts,” he said.
Prof. Rotimi Olatunji, Dean, School of Communication, LASU advised that no organisation should wait for a crisis, before acting.
Olatunji said that it was better to be proactive and play out different scenarios of a crisis, to have a full grasp of how to tackle such, if it happens.
He warned that messages must be accurate and be compact, in order not to create discomfort for the end-users.
“When crafting messages, be accurate, factual, empathetic and always respect people’s sensibility.
“I salute Lagos State Government and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on the Covid19.
“There is a need for a paradigm shift in the value chain” The pandemic will change the way we react to things.
“For the new normal, we must learn from the experience gained”, he said.
Prof. Odion Akhaine asserted that, since the Spanish flu, no pandemic had turned the World into such high panic.
He informed that no data would turn into information, if not processed.
“Both public relations officers and the end-users, to be wary of information overload, which he said could be counterproductive
“I frown at the way social media had turned out, with so much fake news and misinformation.
“It is difficult to censor and monitor those who make use of the new media, but, advised that people could check out, for the same information, news, stories in the traditional media, to confirm its authenticity,” Akhaine said.