By Gilbert Ekezie
The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and education. It works in over 100 countries across the world in the fields of art and culture, education and civil society.
Last year, the council reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall through online media, broadcasts and publications.
The British Council recognises the role of the media in educating, informing, entertaining and influencing public opinion in Nigeria, a trend that has risen over the years, courtesy of digital access.
It was against this backdrop that the British Council Nigeria recently went ahead to enhance the capacity of journalists in the country to help them stay abreast of the present, fast-paced digital era, by organising a one-day capacity-building workshop for about 85 Nigerian journalists drawn from print, electronic and online media organisations.
The session, which featured leaders in the field of journalism, branding and digital marketing, took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Speaking on personal branding for journalists, a marketing expert, Mr. Lampe Omoyele, described personal branding as the process of articulating and communicating one’s skills, attributes, personality, values and vision such that his sphere of influence and leadership increases.
He explained the power of personal branding in differentiation and how vital it was in the global space. Drawing from his experience of over 25 years in marketing, spanning fast-moving consumer goods, global brands and now advertising, Omoyele stressed the need for journalists to build perceptions based on experiences people have about them.
“Your personal brand is a reflection of your greatest strengths and growth opportunities. So, build your strengths and address your weakness,” he said.
A journalist with the BBC, London, Mr. Peter Okwoche, spoke on “Collaboration in the Media Space.” He reminded Nigerian journalists of the need to collaborate with their global counterparts.
Relaying his experience in international collaborations, the attendant benefits, opportunities and how to build relationships with international media houses, Okwoche explained that collaborative journalism was a common mode of journalism where multiple reporters or news organisations, without affiliation to a common parent organisation, report on and contribute items to a news story.
“The global village in which we now find ourselves has pushed us to start looking outside our borders, even when we are reporting so-called local stories. It is practiced by both professional and amateur reporters,” he said.
Managing director of Wild Fusion Limited, Mr. Abasiama Idaraesit, spoke on the influence of digital news reporting by journalists.
He also delved into the wide opportunities and tools available to journalists on the Internet, as well as the value of search engine optimisation to enable audiences discover good content.
Also, a communication specialist and media engagement advisor of Palladium, Mrs. Lauratu Umar Abdusalam, educated journalists on understanding the role of the media in managing sensitive content. She analysed content from a gender and conflict-sensitive perspective. And issues regarding gender inequality, conflicts and content were discussed.
On the British Council’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, the head of human resources, Mrs. Chinenye Ughelu, stressed the need for fair treatment, removal of barriers and redressing existing imbalances, so that groups, which continue to be disadvantaged, gain access to opportunities for full participation in the workplace and wider society.
“There is need to welcome people, allow and encourage them to participate,” she said.
Country director, British Council Nigeria, Mrs. Lucy Pearson, disclosed that the training was designed because of the huge role of the media in Nigeria: “As UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, British Council Nigeria constantly seeks different ways of creating opportunities by providing platforms where knowledge can be shared among key stakeholders.
“For us, this workshop is timely as we constantly seek to develop different sectors in the economy through capacity-building initiatives, and the media is one of such.”
Pearson also explained that the British Council makes a positive contribution to the countries where it works.
“We change lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust,” she said.
According to her, the British Council, which was founded in 1934 as a UK charity body governed by the Royal Charter, receives 15 per cent core funding from the UK government.
One of the participants from an online medium, Mr. Ikenna Asomba, commended the British Council for its useful contribution in the area of capacity building.
He said that the workshop would go a long way in giving journalists in-dept knowledge of their profession.
“We are grateful as Nigerian journalists for this gesture and believe that we would do more with the knowledge we gained today,” he said.