Experts seek shift in information management value chain
Public relations experts have stressed the need for a paradigm shift in information management to cope with the new normal. Speaking at the Lagos State University (LASU) 14th virtual public lecture, which has as theme, ‘COVID-19: The place of public relations in the new normal’, the stakeholders said it was imperative for communicators to share credible information on social platforms and other traditional media.
The Dean, School of Communication, LASU, Prof. Rotimi Olatunji, in his paper, titled: ‘Public relations and the emerging trends in the workplace post COVID-19’, advised that no organisation should wait for crisis before acting, saying, most times, it is better to be proactive and play out different scenarios of a crisis so as to have a full grasp of how to tackle such, if it happens.
He warned that messages must be accurate and compact not to create discomfort for the end users. According to him, “when crafting messages, be accurate, factual, empathetic and always respect people’s sensibility. There is a need for paradigm shift in value chain. The pandemic will definitely change the way we react to things. For the new normal, we must learn from the experience gained.”
For post COVID-19, he said, “information must be treated as a commodity. We must move to a knowledge-based community. We must plan for the future. We have to plan so that next time, we won’t be caught unawares.”
In his presentation, a professor at the Department of political science, LASU, Odion Akhaine, who spoke on ‘Responsible Information Management’, said since the Spanish flu, no pandemic had turned the world into such high panic.
While saying that no data would turn into information if not processed, he asked both public relations officers and the end users to be wary of information overload, which could be counter productive.
“This pandemic came with a lot of infodemic, because, sometimes, the information are not real and so much misinformation. Even, World Health Organisation (WHO) had to recant the information it dished out, twice. There is so much information overload and very difficult to pick the real one that has all the facts,” he said.
Furthermore, Prof. Akhaine frowned at the way social media had turned out so much fake news and misinformation. He noted that it is difficult to censor and monitor those who make use of the new media, but advised that people could check out for same information, news and stories in the traditional media to confirm its authenticity.
“In journalism, opinions are free, but facts are sacred. As practitioners, we must be guided by facts, which are sacred. We must always think right, in all we do,” he said.
Chairman, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Lagos State chapter, Mr. Segun Mcmedal, who spoke on ‘The role of professional public relations practitioners in solving COVID-19’ 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 crisis breaks out, information comes from everywhere, and sometimes, one does not 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,” he said, adding, “the job of public relations officers should be recognised.”
Mcmedal stated that research was vital to providing credible information, which would form the fulcrum of data analysis for contents, saying that a public relations officer must be conversant with media managers, content creators as well as writers to make his job seamless.
His words, “information managers are everywhere working behind the scene. As they do their job, they should put human face into their messages so as to create hope, add facts to figures, share statistics and data. They should collaborate with other organisations.”