Monday, 05 December 2011 00:00 By Kabir Alabi Garba
CONSCIOUS of the misconception that has, over the years, been attached to the practice of Public Relations, participants rose from this year’s All Africa Public Relations Conference in Mombasa, Kenya, with a renewed commitment to foster ethical responsibility and professionalism among practitioners in the continent.
Organised by the Africa Public Relations Associations (APRA), the conference held at the Mombasa Continental Resort, Shanzu Beach, Mombasa, Kenya, drew participants from more than 15 countries, both in Africa and the world.
Countries represented included Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Botswana, Rwanda, The Gambia, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America.
With Public Relations and Communication Management in a Regulated Environment: The Opportunities , as theme, the conference through paper presentations and engaging interaction as well as shared insights , sought to highlight opportunities brought about by the 21st Century dynamics in the context of business regulation.
The opening ceremony on Thursday, November 24, 2011 had, among other dignitaries, two Ministers of Information in attendance.
They were Minister of Information and Communications, Kenya, Mr. Samuel Phogisio and Mr. Labaran Maku, Minister of Information, Nigeria.
However, Mr. Maku was represented by the President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mallam Ahmed Abdullahi Mohammed.
After exhaustive deliberations and engaging discussions on the various presentations by internationally acclaimed facilitators, it was resolved that APRA should create an environment of ethical responsibility and professionalism; open up channels of open, honest and free-flowing communication while leading by example.
Participants were specifically charged to expand knowledge to other areas of the profession. They were tasked to be proactive about suggesting strategies and recommendations to emerging continental developmental issues. Not only that, it was asserted that public relations associations/societies should be committed to behaviors consistent with the codes of ethics in addition to investing in training and retraining of public relations professionals. Here, emphasis was placed on the need to fast-track the establishment of a continental accreditation system.
Other resolutions reached at the conference include the need to creatively employ social media to enhance professionalism and communication management; organisational leaders should ensure that public relations professionals are engaged strategically at management level to enable them perform effectively. The argument was that when they are fully involved, everybody benefits and crisis reduced to the minimum.
It was also argued that professional self-regulation would require a greater deal of self discipline and honesty, public relations practitioners were therefore urged to know the limits and make this an asset. They would also need to cultivate the support of key stakeholders early in any programme campaign .
The consensus was that the practice of Public Relations would become more ethical when it was channeled towards the cause of public interest, promoting concerns of the vulnerable and minority groups in the society e.g. the disabled, the women and children.(This article was edited for space purposes only)