Avert­ing cri­sis through ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Weekly Trust - - Views - Hasiya Haruna Wak­ili & Agu­rue An­thony

We are liv­ing wit­nesses to var­i­ous crises in the coun­try, es­pe­cially those trig­gered by eth­nore­li­gious con­flicts and so­cio-po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ments which could have been pre­vented.

Ac­cord­ing to a com­mu­ni­ca­tion scholar, Timothy Coombs, a cri­sis is the per­cep­tion of an un­pre­dictable event that threat­ens im­por­tant ex­pectan­cies of stake­hold­ers and can se­ri­ously im­pact on an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s per­for­mance and gen­er­ate a neg­a­tive out­come. There­fore, cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the col­lec­tion, pro­cess­ing, and dis­sem­i­na­tion of in­for­ma­tion that is re­quired to ad­dress cri­sis si­t­u­a­tions.

A cri­sis can oc­cur as a re­sult of an un­pre­dictable event or as an un­fore­see­able con­se­quence of some event what had been con­sid­ered a po­ten­tial risk.

Some nat­u­rally-in­duced dis­as­ters like the Tsunami flood that rav­aged homes and prop­er­ties in In­done­sia and Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in the United States were tack­led and man­aged by cri­sis man­agers and com­mu­ni­ca­tors.

Sim­i­larly, Nige­ria to some ex­tent has ex­pe­ri­enced and man­aged floods in many states. Through the Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (NEMA) and rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued to ad­dress the re­cur­rent heavy flooding, es­pe­cially in river­ine ar­eas of Kogi, Anam­bra, Rivers, Bayelsa among oth­ers.

A lot of re­lief ma­te­ri­als were sent to the af­fected states to cush­ion the ef­fect or dam­age caused by the flood. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment em­ployed the ser­vices of pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cers, me­dia ex­perts, in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers, etc, to sen­si­tize the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties within the states to move from flood-prone ar­eas to higher ground ar­eas in or­der to be safe.

The farm­ers and herders at­tacks has posed a threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity, a lot of peo­ple have also been dis­placed from their homes and liveli­hood. This also brought the at­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment to in­sti­tute com­mit­tees in­volv­ing pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cers, me­dia ex­perts, rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers, se­cu­rity agen­cies among oth­ers to bring the cri­sis to a halt.

Re­cently a com­mu­nal cri­sis erupted in Kaduna State that shocked the na­tion, a lot of peo­ple lost their lives, houses were burnt, even a com­mu­nity chief and his fol­low­ers were killed.

The gov­er­nor in a rapid re­sponse directed all rel­e­vant se­cu­rity agen­cies, me­dia ex­perts, pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cers, etc, to calm the sit­u­a­tion in or­der to avert any reprisal.

In ad­dress­ing cri­sis man­age­ment, pub­lic re­la­tions prac­ti­tion­ers played a vari­able key func­tion in cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the af­fected area which in­clude or­ga­niz­ing press brief­ings, pro­mot­ing and main­tain­ing good re­la­tions, ar­rang­ing me­dia tours and vis­i­ta­tions to af­fected com­mu­ni­ties, is­sues press re­lease and ar­ti­cles, en­gage in so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­i­ties and mon­i­tors me­dia con­tent on re­lated is­sues amongst oth­ers.

Like­wise, credit should be given to the role of me­dia in ad­dress­ing cri­sis man­age­ment which pro­motes the pub­lic aware­ness on the sub­ject mat­ter to the knowl­edge of the pub­lic, they shape pub­lic opin­ion on cri­sis man­age­ment through their medium and equally set agenda for fur­ther dis­cus­sion to ad­dress the mat­ter, thereby in­flu­enc­ing de­ci­sion mak­ers for rapid re­spond to rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers to cush­ion the cri­sis as well as sup­port for the mo­bi­liza­tion of re­sources and other re­lief ma­te­rial for the af­fected vic­tims.

It would be wise set­ting up a team of se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers of the pub­lic re­la­tion per­son­nel. They should be iden­ti­fied to serve as the or­ga­ni­za­tion or in­sti­tu­tion’s cri­sis man­age­ment team. Ide­ally, the or­ga­ni­za­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer will lead the team with the in­sti­tu­tions to pub­lic re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tive, se­cu­rity agen­cies and other rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers that man­age the cri­sis.

Also, the pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer will be in the lead of in­tel­li­gent gath­er­ing of re­ports which is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of both cri­sis pre­ven­tion and cri­sis re­sponse.

In con­clu­sion, ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion, so­ci­ety, Na­tion or even coun­try is vul­ner­a­ble to the cri­sis at any point in time, there­fore the need for ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cri­sis man­age­ment team should be very proac­tive to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion be­fore its get es­ca­lated or snow­ball into an unimag­in­able pro­por­tion.

In view of the above, there­fore, gov­ern­ment at all lev­els should de­vise and sus­tain cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies by train­ing its in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers on re­quired skills to man­age cri­sis through in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing, proac­tive ap­proaches, and in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment.

As a team­work, cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ef­fec­tive through syn­ergy and col­lab­o­ra­tion of rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers. Since cri­sis can hap­pen at any point in time, con­certed ef­forts should be made by or­ga­ni­za­tions in fund­ing, equip­ping and em­pow­er­ing in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cers and pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cers to think ahead and carry out re­search in or­der to avert un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances or cri­sis.

Hasiya and Agu­rue wrote from Abuja

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.