It was outpouring of encomium at the on-going two-day The Sun Spokespersons’ Conference in Abuja as the Federal Government has promised to make the laudable programme an integral component of the necessary strategies to revive, strengthen, fully invigorate and reposition its information management machinery.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the promise while declaring the conference open, commended The Sun Publishing Limited for taking the initiative, noting that from the wealth of information from resource persons, stakeholders and other participants will emanate strategies, techniques and prospective for the managers of information.
Represented by Director, Public Communication and National Orientation, Mr. Emmanuel Agbegi, the minister said government would, as a strategy, step up the effective utilization of media mix in communicating with its various publics.
In his speech, former Governor of Abia State and Publisher of The Sun newspapers, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, noted that the conference would not have come at a better time than this “period of recession and economic challenges where citizens need all the information they can get especially as it regards government’s effort to get the country out of the problem.”
Kalu noted the imperativeness of reputation managers to bear in mind that they occupy a critical position that could make or mar the success or otherwise of their principals.
He, therefore, urged them in discharge of their duties, to be responsible, tactful and responsive because any careless comment or moves could jeopardise the stability and government effort, affecting the socio-economic development of the people.
“I am particularly happy that The Sun Spokespersons Conference is finally here. Beyond information dissemination, it tends to establish a platform for media advisers in government not only to improve on their trade but to rob minds together and network among one another”.
In a goodwill message, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, urged information managers to be proactive, warning that they cannot afford to be stale.
He noted that 24hours was too long to respond to many lies being concocted and circulated online every minute of the day.
“They are just concocting falsehood and releasing and releasing, then as a reputation manager, how are you going to cope. That is why this workshop is very important and I am glad that it is annual, because we need it.
“As spokesmen, as reputation managers, we need sessions like this from time to time. Because it is said that the frontier of knowledge never closes, that frontier remains open perpetually. We, that are reputation managers ,cannot afford to be stale. If you are stale, then you have failed abinitio.”
Also speaking, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Nandas, lauded the initiative, noting that what he saw at The Sun Awards earlier in the year indicated that the newspaper has come to stay.
He tasked spokespersons to always avail the media with facts, saying the days of killing stories were over.
Earlier, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspapers, Eric Osagie had in his opening remarks, said the decision to organise the conference was based on the growing trend of reputation mismanagement and the need to catch up with the fast pace of the world of information which poses serious challenge for reputation managers.
He stated that before this period, “that a lie not corrected within 24 hours becomes true. That was when the only source of correcting false information was the newspaper,” but stressed that the coming of the new media has made reputation management more challenging.
Osagie said: “With the new media, one hour may be a costly luxury. Before the new media hit us with new definition of reputation management, we had the luxury of keeping the editor waiting for 10 to 15 hours before he receives your press statement which attempts to correct an error in image and reputation of your principal.”
He charged practitioners to be proactive image makers and managers that are internet savvy and know how to deploy it effectively.
“As a reputation manager, you are expected to be a disaster fixer. It means that you have to specialise in online make overs, and go beyond going to hand over to your boss, newspaper cuttings and then relax and wait to send photographs and press statement. You must be very conversant with social media and have the knowledge of how to respond to them.
“At the end of this conference, we expect that you would move away from the traditional way of Director of Press who sits back to read and do press cuttings and become a proactive image maker who is very conversant with the workings of Internet. You must know how to use search engines to fish out negative reports about your principal,” The Sun MD enthused.