Spokespersons of security and response agencies in Nigeria have been urged to ensure that they register and renew their membership of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) before they could practice as PR practitioners in the country.
The immediate past Director Defence Information (DDI), Major General Chris Olukolade (Rtd) who made the disclosure at a Regional Seminar on Media Engagement in Crisis Communication organised by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) in Port-Harcourt, said it is illegal to practice PR without certification of the regulatory body
General Olukolade who is a Fellow of NIPR and Chairman of its Enforcement Committee told participants at the Seminar that: “It is now illegal to practice Public Relations in Nigeria without certification as the Institute is undertaking membership certification and re-certification to weed out quackery in the profession.”
Speaking on “Strategies for Engaging the Media in Crisis Situation,” General Olukolade said, “crisis management would always involve dealing with threats before and during an incident. The turbulence surrounding crisis situation has made communication more vital for PR practitioners in times of crisis to sustain the reputation of the nation and establishment.”
“The belief that the mass media has power to make and break any organisation is still true, therefore knowing how to engage the media and understand how they operate is vital. Public Relations managers must be multi skilled and know how to manage relationship with public media.
Also speaking on “Online PR in Crisis Management, the Founder of PRNigeria News Release platform, Mr. Yushau A. Shuaib disclosed that online media has taken over from the traditional media as effective means of communication.
In a statistical presentation, Shuaib who listed the enormous advantage of social media for effective communications added that Nigeria has reached 46 percent internet penetration with 86 million users.
He said “As at June 2016, Nigeria has 86,219,965 Internet Users out of the estimated population of 186,987,563 which easily translated to 46.1 % Internet Penetration. The figure was relatively higher than 55,182,852 internet users of population of 168,240,403 as at December 2012 which was then 32.8% internet penetration.”
While making comparison between traditional media and social media, Shuaib said by far online media is ahead. He said “Unlike the old bureaucracy, stringent and costly requirements of setting up traditional media, the online media is direct, affordable, faster with large audience that have now forced professional communicators to work 24/7 including Saturday, Sunday and Holidays because any late or lack of response to sensitive issues can easily trigger crises or disaster.”
The Executive Secretary of the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd), said the Regional Seminar which is being sponsored by Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) is organised to improve the capacity of information officers on the latest tools in crisis communication.
“Given the success of the Seminar in Abuja, Bauchi and Port-Harcourt where over 200 officers have so far being trained and benefitted, with adequate funding the Centre hopes to organize the seminar in other regions – North-West, South-West and South-East.”