How PR plays ‘Politics’
In order to whitewash its inept handling of the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the Goodluck Jonathan administration awarded a N195 million ($1.2 million) contract to U.S. Public Relations and lobby firm, Levick, to help change “international and local media narrative” surrounding its efforts to rescue the girls, Washington DC based newspaper, The Hills reported on the 27th of June 2014. The outrage that greeted this news in the Nigerian media space was to say the least, overwhelming. Even the umbrella body of public relations practitioners in Nigeria, Public Relation Consultants of Nigeria (PRCAN), threatened to sue the government for its decision to hire a foreign PR firm. The Jonathan government is obviously ignorant of the Nigerian law which says that for anyone to practice public relations in Nigeria and on behalf of Nigeria, it has to be registered with the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).As at the time of writing this piece, Levick is not a member of NIPR. How sad! As we approach the 2015 elections, it is important for us to highlight the importance of public relations to politics and political participation.
PR plays a great role in politics, in ways more than one:
- The PR function of publicity is a great tool of gaining awareness for candidates and cause. Whether through mass media exposure, special events or targeted direct communication, making candidates’ names known to voters is a basic function of political PR. Candidates can’t win if voters don’t know their names.
- PR’s role in providing voters with enough information to develop an understanding of candidates’ position is another role of PR closely tied to politics. Knowing whose running is important, but once they have an awareness of who’s in the contest, understanding where each candidate stands on the issues becomes a priority.
- Due to modern-day public relations, another dimension comes into play, though- one that moves public relations beyond publicity and the use of one-way messages and toward two-way communication. At the highest level, this two-way approach allows for both persuasion of the public and modification of the politician with an eye to bringing both to that most valuable of outcomes- mutually beneficial relationships.
Name: Jerrywright Ukwu
Career type: Journalism
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