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On PR Day, practitioners urge members to uphold ethics

By Sunday Aikulola
20 July 2022   |   2:45 am
Public Relations professionals, agency founders, heads of industry, and communications executives at the 2022 World PR Day (WPRD) cocktail reception in Lagos, last week, restated the need for members

Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, The Guardian Newspaper, Martins Oloja (left); Founder LSF PR, Bidemi Zakariyau; Founder BHM, Ayeni Adekunle; Managing Partner, glg Communications, Omawumi Ogbe; Co-founder of RED, Adebola Williams and Africa Regions Executive Head, Marketing Corporate Communications Standard Bank Group Nkiru Olumide Ojo during the World PR Day (WPRD) In Lagos. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN<br />

Public Relations professionals, agency founders, heads of industry, and communications executives at the 2022 World PR Day (WPRD) cocktail reception in Lagos, last week, restated the need for members to uphold ethical conduct to gain clients’ confidence.

Hosted by PR and reputation management company GLG Communications in partnership with Guardian Newspaper Limited, the practitioners identified technology as a great enabler in changing the nation’s PR narrative.

With the theme, “Trust, Truth, and Transparency”, they said PR professionals must imbibe integrity and accountability when relating with clients.

Organisers of the day, which was held for the second time this year, said the 2022 edition presented another opportunity for professionals to put forward a unified global agenda and propel one another to answer a call of duty, help stakeholders to communicate more responsibly and be more deliberate about using public relations to help organisations make positive contributions to the environment and society in which they operate.

Managing Partner at GLG Communications, Omawumi Ogbe, observed that the nation is making strides in public relations and communications, noting that the time is ripe to expand “our stories, establish ourselves as integral parts of the global landscape, and draw lessons from veterans and young voices in Nigeria’s PR community and Africa at large.”

She added that GLG Communications believes that positive disruption is essential in the industry to prevent others from disrupting the PR ecosystem negatively.

She disclosed, “since we set plans in motion, this initiative has been widely accepted and applauded by the PR and communications industry and other private and public leaders. We’re confident this event will bring a new vista to our industry.”

Convener, World PR Day and CEO BHM, Ayeni Adekunle, said: “We decided to begin to have tough, largely ignored conversations about PR last year, and we want to show once again how the practice has deeper connotations to how our world functions than it get credit for.”

He stated, “it is in our collective interests for the world to continue to understand the role of PR in shaping and inspiring not only businesses or governance across the globe but critical human actions that can make or mar generations to come.”

In his keynote remarks, Chairman NBA Section on Business Law, Ayuli Jemide, noted that PR practitioners are supposed to be bridge builders. He, however, argued that practitioners are building bridges that are not sustainable.

He identified three elements of PR, information, persuasion and integration. He suggested practitioners must uphold trust at all times, noting that this would make people be informed, persuaded and integrated. He said a few honest men are better than numbers.

The fireside conversation featured industry leaders such as the Managing Director and Editor-in-chief of The Guardian, Martins Oloja; Adekunle; Africa Regions Executive Head, Brand and Corporate Communications, Standard Bank Group, Nkiru Olumide Ojo; Founder and CEO, LSF PR Bidemi Zakariyau Akande and Group CEO of RED For Africa Adebola Williams.

Moderated by Ogbe, the practitioners explored and interrogated new trends in a rapidly changing PR landscape.

Compared with other professions like medicine or law, Ayeni observed that there is a high level of ignorance as regards PR by members of the public. He said, “we are not there yet, but we have come a long way.”

Reacting to issues around fake news, misinformation and disinformation, he said fake news is not new, noting that there is a need to develop the capacity of upcoming generations to address this ugly trend.

Oloja observed that technology has disrupted journalism and affected gatekeeping process, making everyone with a smartphone assume the position of an editor.

He said this development led to the concept of citizen journalism. He defined journalism as what someone is trying to hide while the rest is PR. He added that journalism has now become a multifaceted conversation.

Insisting that facts still remain sacred and transparency is sacrosanct, he suggested that stories should be verified through software. He said false stories scare away advertisers, adding that at The Guardian, “we chase facts, and we have the credibility.”

He said PR practitioners manage reputation while journalists damage reputation. He wondered how a reputation damager would effectively manage an organisation’s reputation. He stressed the need for building journalists’ capacity before they take PR jobs.

Akande advised clients to look for PR practitioners with a track record of success in terms of relationships and expertise. She also said practitioners must execute their work professionally, and “we must maintain our reputation.”

Williams stressed the need for PR practitioners to be good listeners. He also said PR must be used for good. He advised brands to engage the services of professionals, saying you “buy an umbrella before the rain starts and not when the rain has already started.”

He noted that organisations must show empathy, humility, courage and the heart of their brand.

Referring to a 2021 Trust Report, Nkiru Olumide-Ojo also insisted that PR professionals must imbibe trust at all times, noting that people tend to believe what organisations are saying than statements from government or non-governmental organisations.

In leveraging technology to communicate, she advised practitioners and communication experts to be clear about their strategy. She suggested the “pool and push strategy” when thinking digital.

Awards of excellence were also given to PR professionals featured in the PR Power List released on July 15, 2022.

Presented by GLG Communications, the PR Power List recognised 50 individuals leveraging public relations to make an impact and promote the profession in Nigeria. The list was divided into categories including icons, change makers, community impact, media icons and rising voices.

The Guardian and Arise TV were honoured as media icons of the year for their steadfast display of Trust, Truth and Transparency in line with the 2022 World PR Day theme.

Public relations and communications professionals worldwide celebrate World PR Day yearly on July 16. The day also honours Ivy Lee, one of the pioneers of PR practice, who was born on the same date 145 years ago.

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