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Why African leaders need proactive PR


Badejo Okunsanya

Badejo Okunsanya

The Secretary General of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya has said only proactive engagement of Public Relations can provide African leaders with the wherewithal to tackle myriad of challenges confronting the continent.

He further said that when a look is taken at the issues of economic emancipation, infrastructural deficit, improved governance, citizens’ engagement among others issues confronting the continent, communication has a most significant role to play.

He also said that Africans must unite if it hope to build the continent and in uniting, communication will play a big role.

Badejo-Okusanya, who said this in Lagos last week at a press briefing to announce the activities for the 28th Edition of the APRA annual conference slated for Calabar between May 24 and 27 2016, stated that it is in recognizing that communication has an important role to play in tackling the continent’s challenges made APRA to pick, ‘Leapfrogging Africa: The role of communication’, as the theme for its 2016 conference.

According to him, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will Chair the opening ceremony while Alhaji Aliko Dangote will deliver the Keynote Address with some of the topics expected to be discussed at the conference to include: PR Function: The Role of The Trusted Advisor; PR & Ethics; Creating Value through Content Creation & Story Telling; Innovate or Die (Creativity in PR); Handling Public Affairs Briefs; Reputation Management for Country Branding: The Future of Tourism in Africa; Managing Employee Relations/Expectations; The Role of Communication in the Attainment of Sustainable Development Goals; How Not to Communicate During Crisis; New Trends in Corporate Media Relations; PR Campaigns that Shook The World as well as the Holmes Report as a case study.

After identifying some of the great strides of his administration, he however, stated that the impact of public relations is yet to be fully felt and appreciated across spectrums and in moving forward, one of its key desires is to deepen the practice in line with global standards. We are well aware of these numerous challenges and in spite of them; we intend to continue pursuing our noble goals

The CMC Connect boss also noted that the remarkable cultural diversity boasted by the African continent holds much promise for the effective engagement of the untapped creative potential that is inherent in the continent.

Speaking more specifically about the conference, he said that the annual conference is the largest gathering of public relations practitioners on the continent and it has repeatedly attracted participation from Europe, North America and as far as Asia.

“The annual conference has always provided us with the opportunity to review and measure the progress of practice vis a viz global practice. It has also helped in building a strong fraternity of public relations professionals on the continent. Over the years, we have had the privilege of hosting outstanding speakers both from within and outside the profession. Increasingly, the conferences have been sought after as a ‘must host’ for many countries who wish to use it as a platform for energizing practice.”

For him, the APRA Calabar 2016 conference will be uniquely different because it promises to be a perfect blend of business and pleasure as delegates will savour Calabar’s unique cuisine, experience its cultural heritage and visit an array of tourism destinations. “It will also strengthen the capacity building of members as this particular conference will feature plenary sessions, keynote addresses, workshops, sightseeing, films & musical shows, networking opportunities, exhibition and  a Calabar Night.”

To make this year’s conference a unique one, he said APRA Calabar 2016 will parade an array of renowned speakers, including His Excellency Erastus Mwencha, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Bart de Vries, the President of International Public Relations Association (IPRA), Maxim Behar, President International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) and five major PR networks namely; Weber Shandwick, Fleishman-Hilliard, Hill & Knowton, Grayling and Burson-Marsteller, Robyn de Villiers, Chairman and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Africa, just as a pre-conference session for consultants will also be held by the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) in collaboration with ICCO on May 24 2016, with ‘The Business of PR: Managing a Successful Consultancy’ as the sub-theme for that session.

On the activities of the association so far, Badejo-Okusanya said that its success has been varied, because while it was able to meet some of its goals, a number are left outstanding, revealing that a significant achievement of his administration is initiating the relationship with the African Union Commission, to the extent that its 2013 conference was staged as part of the 50th anniversary of the continental organisation.

“We have kept the flag of the association flying and maintained a reasonable level of visibility for it. We have also been able to bring in more national associations to join us in our quest. Our challenges as expected include the very limited resources to prosecute our aims. Traveling across Africa to preach the gospel of public relations has also presented its own obstacles especially flight connections and entry visa requirements. We would also like our practice to be more engaging across the various sectors of Africa.”

On hand to endorse the conference at the briefing were the President of Public Relations Consultant of Nigeria (PRCAN), John Ehiguese; the Vice-Chairman of the local organizing committee of APRA and the Chairperson of NIPR, Cross Rivers, Mrs. MargretObot; the representative of NIPR President, Kunle Ogedenge and the representative of the Cross Rivers State in Lagos, Ms Kate Henshaw, who unveiled the APRA Calabar 2016 identity at the press parley.

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