REPORT ON THE 3-DAY TRAINING WORKSHOP WITH THE THEME
MEDIA, PUBLICITY AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IN THE MODERN AGE
TUESDAY MAY 24 – THURSDAY MAY 26, 2022
The Premium Times Academy went into a partnership with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for the training of her media and public relations officers drawn from all the states of the federation and the headquarters in Bwari, Abuja. The partnership also covered the conduct of a survey and an audit of the social media status of the Board. The latter pre-assessment process began in February 2022.
The 3-day training workshop with the theme “Media, Publicity and Public Relations in the Modern Age,” was conducted by Premium Times Academy (the training arm of Premium Times Services Limited) from Tuesday May 24 to Thursday May 26, 2022 at the Boardroom of JAMB headquarters, Bwari, FCT.
The training followed a roadmap that was carefully designed and segmented in phases by the Academy in liaison with JAMB.
The first phase of the partnership comprised the Pre-Assessment Process. It entailed professional experts’ evaluation or audit of the status quo at the Board with regard to modern information processing and dissemination strategies. It also covered an overview of relevant media tools and facilities already in place and the frequency of their utilization by officials. This is a very vital process needed to properly guide the training faculty, facilitators and the client with regard to closing observed gaps and weak links. It also entailed suggestions on where updates are needed and areas of strength.
THE THREE-DAY INTENSIVE TRAINING WORKSHOP
The pre-assessment phase of the project keyed into the fulcrum of the exercise which was the three-day intensive training workshop. The three-day intensive training took place between Tuesday May 24 and Thursday May 26, 2022.
Participants in the training workshop included all target beneficiaries who were physically present. They were JAMB personnel drawn from the Board’s headquarters and the 36 states of the federation. The training took place in the Boardroom at the JAMB Headquarters in Bwari, FCT.
A total of 50 Public Relations and Information personnel of JAMB successfully took part in the training. The event got underway with registration of participants which lasted between 8.00AM and 8.45AM at the venue. The singing of the National Anthem at 9.00AM signaled the commencement of the programme followed by the opening supplications, introduction of officials, instructors, facilitators and the participants. See Appendix I-III
DAY ONE – Opening
After the National Anthem, prayers and general introduction, Assistant Managing Editor and Head of Special Projects, Premium Times, Mr. Nosike Ogbuenyi took the stage as moderator of the training. He was assisted by Mr. Willie Obase, Head of Administration, Premium Times. Mr. Mr. Ogbuenyi made introductory remarks about the organizers of the training – Premium Times Academy, the training arm of Premium Times Services Limited. He said the Academy engages in the training of journalists, officials, information and public relations officers etc on public relations, image management, strategic communications, media publicity, the traditional media and the new media.
He disclosed that Premium Times Academy, which was established five years ago as a subsidiary of Premium Times Services Limited has been undertaking similar training programmes for different organisations and agencies. The initiative is in tandem with the philosophy of Premium Times to keep faith with the operation, rules and ethics of the media and public relations profession.
In the welcome address which dwelt on the importance of the training, the Head, Public Affairs and Protocol, JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin said today’s fast pace world is an age of communication and every second millions of information units are exchanged globally. He said the medium through which content is carried plays a vital role in the way it is perceived.
Quoting Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor in English Literature and a philosopher, who once proclaimed: ‘the medium is the message’ and Kevin Seccia, a twitter user, who once twitted, ’I heard thunder and opened my phone’s weather app instead of sitting up and turning my head slightly to look out the window’, Benjamin said the two statements show that “people are becoming more voracious, insatiable, omnivorous – and all they consume is content (information, entertainment, instruction, diversion, etc.)”.
“The age of ‘we talk, you listen’ style of organisation communication is gone; the dialogue with stakeholders is the only way forward, because the emergence of new media has changed the way consumers form opinions and make decisions. Therefore, we need to build trust, relationships and loyalty through genuine, dedicated, proactive, and value-driven engagements with our stakeholders through the prevailing platforms,” Benjamin remarked.
He said that because contemporary media has changed the dynamics of influence and put power in the hand of the ordinary people, it has become imperative for Public Relation Officers (PROs) to update and engage in conversation through various new channels and tools. Hence the need for this workshop which is aimed at building and maintaining the positive image of JAMB in the face of smear campaigns and misrepresentation of the activities of the Board.
The fact that Public Relations (PR) officers are often the first contact for individuals or organisations seeking to reach out in an informed way, equally makes it important for them to appropriately address inquiries from the media and other parties as well as track media coverage and promote industry trends.
With the rapid changes in media and publicity, JAMB is taking steps to change dance steps to avoid the risk of dancing out of tune, he stressed adding that nowadays, the exclusivity enjoyed by mainstream media has come to a halt. “The journalistic endeavours by non-professionals, also known as ‘citizen journalism,’ heralded the influx of use-generated contents which seem to compete with contents from the mainstream media – in terms of speed, ease, accessibility and availability of use. Suffice to say that digital distribution is the evolution traditional distribution and at the end of that distribution chain is compelling content, Benjamin stated in the welcome address.”
The Board has provided the needed opportunity for all the trainees to have enough news items given the services they render to the public, he said adding that the training would enhance streamlined flow of reports from the states. With the post training awakening, the situation in which many (PROs) might be waiting for news instead of producing relevant news would change for better.
Benjamin summed up the essence of the training by stating that “the workshop has come so timely to update us with the requisite tools to keep us abreast with 21st century PR strategies. With rapid changes in the media world you skill up or be phased out.” (Please refer to Appendix IV)
DAY ONE PAPER 1/FLAG-OFF
ONGOING REFORMS AND THE ROLE OF THE PR UNIT/
FLAG-OFF OF TRAINING
The three-day training was symbolically flagged off on Tuesday May 24 at 9am by the Registrar of JAMB, Professor Is’haq Oloyede who was ably represented by the Director of Legal Services of the Board, Dr. Abdulwahab Oyedokun.
The Registrar’s official flag-off presentation which focused on “Ongoing Reforms and the Role of the PR Unit,” set the tone for the training. Other senior officers of JAMB who attended the opening session include the Director, General Service, Mr. Garba Koko; Director of Quality Assurance, Mrs. Mabel Agbabeku; Director of Audit, Mr. Patrick Obilor and the representative of the Director of Special Duties, Mrs. Lami Dara.
The Registrar presented a panoramic view of major activities and highpoints of JAMB’s chronicle beginning from its establishment in 1977 till date. The presentation outlined the vision of JAMB “to be a first-class examining body with a reputation for maintaining high standards, employing cutting-edge methods, international best practices and state-of-the-art tools in the business of testing”.
Among primary objectives of JAMB highlighted were ensuring uniform standard in the conduct of matriculation examinations; appointing examiners, moderators, invigilators and other persons with respect to matriculation examinations; and placing suitably-qualified candidates (admissions) into universities, monotechnics, polytechnics, colleges of education in the country in conjunction with the institutions taking into account vacancies available in each institution among others.
Oloyede said the mandate of JAMB is guided by the founding ideals of the Board as a coordinating and clearing body; Equity, fairness, inclusiveness, transparency and accountability in the conduct of Matriculation Examinations and Admissions process as well as compliance with international best practices in the conduct of Matriculation Examinations into tertiary institutions, taking into consideration the Nigerian environment.
On ongoing reforms, Oloyede listed some solutions put in place by the Board to curb the spate of examination malpractice such as identification, standardising and accreditation of suitable CBT centres; CBT Centres’ network monitoring and tests; creation of candidate’s profile during registration through text messages to eliminate claims of errors in name; capturing of candidates’ biometrics; embossment of photograph on all documents ; use of CCTV and application of detective ICT to screen candidates; biometric verification and adequate supervision and application of sanctions.
Other reforms are automating registration services online; eliminating the use of scratch card and replacing it with virtual application; expanding payment options; institutionalising a culture of transparency and accountability; fostering ethical standard through proper supervision and monitoring; ensuring transparency in the mode of placement (admissions) of suitably-qualified candidates into the limited vacancies; non-recognition of illegitimate A/Level results for admission; Training and Certification of JAMB Test Development Staff as Certified Teachers and introduction of a Weekly Bulletin among others. (See full presentation in Appendix V)
PAPER II: UNDERSTANDING THE CHANGING MEDIA AND AUDIENCE ECOSYSTEM – THE OLD VS THE NEW
The second paper of the opening day, “Understanding The Changing Media and Audience Ecosystem – The Old Vs The New”, was delivered by Prof Abiodun Adeniyi, veteran journalist, consultant and head of the department of Mass Communication, Baze University, Abuja.
The presenter defined the new media as a form of mass communication such as using the internet, while on the other hand traditional media includes newspapers, television, radio, etc.
From being dependent on ‘Traditional or Old Media’, we’ve shifted to the use of ‘New Media’. Whereas the traditional forms like print, films, TV, and radio constitute Old Media, New Media primarily includes computer technology, the Internet and smart phones. (Appendix VI)
PAPER III, “MEDIA MANAGEMENT: WINNING THE SUPPORT OF REPORTERS/EDITORS”
The third presentation was made by the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer of Premium Times, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed. At the foundational level, he underscored the need for Information and Public Relations Officers to build professional, interactive, and attractive websites which should be constantly updated through diverse publicity techniques such as press releases, speeches, photos, videos, links to new stories as well set up accounts on social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin etc which should be linked to the organisation’s websites.
He stressed the need for effective and professional management of these platforms adopting key strategies like building attractive and professional newsletters through which messages can be taken directly to journalists and key stakeholders in their emails.
The facilitator also harped on the imperative of information managers visiting influential media around them to introduce key officials and programmes. Related to this approach is the building of sustained contacts/friendship with reporters and editors as well as their newsroom based on mutual respect among other strategies.(Appendix VII)
PAPER IV – Corporate Communication in the Social Media Age –
The facilitator, Prof. Abiodun Adeniyi defined corporate communication as a set of activities involved in managing and orchestrating all internal and external communications aimed at creating favourable point of view among stakeholders on which the company depends. He said it constitutes the messages issued by a corporate organisation, body, or institute to its audiences, such as employees, media, channel partners and the general public. Organisations aim to communicate the same message to all its stakeholders, to transmit coherence, credibility and ethics.
He demonstrated how corporate communication helps organisations explain their mission, combine their many visions and values into a cohesive message to stakeholders. The concept of corporate communication could be seen as an integrative communication structure linking stakeholders to the organisation. It enables people to exchange necessary information and it helps to set members of the organisation apart from non-members, he explained in the presentation.
PAPER V – HOW TO WRITE INCISIVE & IRRESISTIBLE PRESS RELEASES AND REBUTTALS
Mr. Abiodun Oladunjoye in the presentation outlined the key components of a good press release, importance of the headline and things to note or ask for before a press release is prepared. The facilitator explained the attributes of a good press release to attract attention of editors; the details a standard press release should contain in the top paragraph and the five ways to get journalists to further improve your press release or story. He equally lectured the participants on the attributes of a bad/poor press release which put off editors. He gave the recipe for avoiding such. Also covered were the techniques for writing good rebuttals.
He taught the participants how a good PRO should follow an inverted pyramid format/style, with information appearing in order of importance so that editors can easily identify key facts to use. Under this arrangement, the key information will be at the top while the pyramid declines to a point at the bottom with the least important news.
The facilitator elucidated how a good PR answers questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. The sentences and paragraphs in a PR should be short so that they can be quickly reviewed by an assignment/sub-editor or a reporter on a beat (place of regular coverage like the State House, Ministry or Department or Business). The PR should contain no jargons, abbreviations and unexplained details or clichés, he explained to the participants.(Appendix VIII)
PAPER VI – THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN MEDIA MANAGEMENT
In this presentation, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed began by defining power as the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. With 51.1% of the Nigerian population having access to internet, mass influence through spread of information to more people at a very low cost through internet comes with the ability to persuade via different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Linked In and others.
A good PRO should know his audience or constituent constituents and devise ways of connecting with them seamlessly. In this vein, he should discern suitable relationship to have with the people who connect to his page. He should also know the type of content that will be important to them. He should be able to know much time he should spend updating his page.
In developing his social media posting plan, the PRO should keep his handles active by being conversational, personal, and authentic. (Appendix IX)
PAPER VII – NEW TRENDS IN NEWSLETTER PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
A very practical presentation was made on this topic by made by Mr. Akin Oyewobi, a digital expert. He defined newsletter is a printed or electronic report containing news concerning the activities of a business or an organization that is sent to its members, customers, employees or other subscribers. The facilitator explained how newsletter platforms are essential since they allow people to beautifully design a newsletter email and deliver the email to their subscribers with features such as: A/B testing; Smart content; Templates and customizability and Analytics.
On what a good newsletter entails, the facilitator listed them as including the following: Text, Image, Videos, Audios and Call to Action (CTA). (Appendix X)
PAPER VIII – How to Produce Infographics and Quote Cards
The facilitator, Mr Richard Akinwunmi taught and subsequently guided the participants on the processes for designing an infographic. The presentation focused a lot on practical with most of the participants performing the tasks during the workshop. They were able to learn how to input infographics to their content and how these can help them to communicate better with their audience.
The infographics guided them on what they would you like their readers to gain from seeing them. Through the process they were able to be focused on what they would want their targets to react through the aid of the infographics as well as the kind of value a particular infographic would add to their studies or lives.
In the practical, the participants were made to begin the production by setting attainable goals for their infographic designs. That was because if they were not sure of what the results would be, they might have difficulty putting it all together into a cohesive infographic design conveying the message. (Appendix XI)
PAPER IX – HOW TO HANDLE BAD PRESS, POOR PUBLICITY AND PR CRISIS
This was presented by Major General Chris Olukolade (rtd), a former Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Army. The presentation focused on how to handle negative publicity, that is all that concerns uncomplimentary sentiments or information about an organisation or a brand that’s publicised by the media or other sources. Such negative could adversely affect the organisation’s image and portray it in inelegant way before the public.
The facilitator also explained how positive sentiments and information about an organisation can be harnessed and publicised by the media or other sources. It positively affects the organisation’s image and often boosts confidence in it and the services it is rendering.
Information managers should be able to draw up conceivable crisis communication scenario and come up with an appropriate management strategy. It is helpful for any effective information management strategy to be proactive in conception and implementation. In other words, a good PRO should not wait until crisis ensues before thinking of what to do. He should be prepared. (Appendix XII)
PAPER X – JAMB Social Media Audit Report Presentation – Mr Richard Akinwunmi & Mr Akin Oyewobi (Appendix XIII).
FEEDBACK AND PRACTICAL EVALUATION SESSION (Appendix XIV)
For the trainees, the gains and new knowledge about contemporary media, publicity and public relations were numerous. The takeaways by the participants from the training are numerous especially with regard to the theme of the training programme. Firstly, they gained deeper understanding of the media as any form of communication that delivers information. This is with regard to the two broad categories of media – (a) the old media which comprises newspapers, magazines, journals and periodicals as well as the radio and the television and (b) the new media made up of all related modern means of communication such as the computer and the internet.
Participants were also acquainted with the main goal of the media which is to inform or communicate with the appropriate or larger number of people, all at once. Locally and globally, the public relies on the media to learn about diverse social, political, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious events and happenings generally.
In the past, the media was mostly limited to newspapers, magazines and other printed publications. Technology helped to advance the media and expand the options for people to get their daily news and information, first on the radio and then on television.
Today, many millions of people rely on the computer and internet to get their news on per minutes or seconds basis and online media outlets have become very popular all over the world. Participants were made to understand in practical terms that fast-paced information dissemination or publicity is now the order of the day using modern digital technologies such as the internet.
The new media has become so important that almost every newspaper or magazine is now adapting by doing an online version. Through this, the boundary between digital media and traditional media has been narrowed. As information and public relations officers, the participants were taught how they could be practitioners of the new media who are conversant with the use of digital technology (e.g. social media and the use of the internet).
The information managers learnt and should continue to update on many strategies for getting the best from reporters and editors such as via creating a good list of media contacts; updating it as regularly as possible and getting to know journalists and how they work; understand beat associations (education, health, politics, charity); know journalists interested in key issues, court them; understand media deadlines; be kind enough to respond quickly and accurately to queries from the media and provide factsheets, photographs, profiles, and other relevant materials to journalists as regularly as possible.
Equally, a good PRO should be friendly with reporters while not forgetting that they are basically storytellers who could deal a blow from any reckless utterance or action by a tactless information officer. To guard against blunder, a good PRO should always stick to his well reasoned message and avoid disclosing official secrets or what is not ripe for publicity.
He must ensure his press releases are well written, providing fresh information and accompanied by photos, audio and videos as necessary. He should boring reporters/newsrooms with too many press releases. He should create newsworthy events and identify specific reporters interested in such subjects while remaining visible and in contact with the media.
The training appraised publicity as not just communication about a brand, an activity, an organisation, an offering, or a business but the movement of information to the public via media coverage, outlets and other mass media sources.
In other words, positive publicity was discussed as not just a process but a result of a good public relations strategy where the practitioner or purveyor succeeds in providing information to media and other third-party outlets like bloggers, podcasters, etc.
The PROs came to practical grip with their duties as officers entrusted with the job to generate and manage publicity for the Board and its brand by persuading the news media to report about the same in the most positive way possible.
The participants got acquainted with the fact that as publicity officers, it is their responsibility to identify newsworthy aspects of the Board’s activities like speeches, interviews, comments, statements or official engagements of officials and process the same as possible news and publicity reportage materials.
They were equally taught that their jobs require them to put in appropriate efforts and use multiple ways to generate news stories about the Board.
Among such ways of generating news stories and publicity are press releases or statements (short, compelling stories written in a specific format to inform local media outlets about the Board’s newsworthy events).
Also as public relations specialists, they were sensitised on ways of developing media personnel relations to increase their organisation’s media coverage.
With regard to digital media, the participants learnt that it is important that organisations such as JAMB use digital public relations strategies to get the attention of the target audience and media outlets. Digital activities like tweets, posts, images, etc., often result in getting followers, media, and public attention.
In discharging their responsibilities, the PROs are to remain focused on the main objective of publicity which is to garner public exposure, awareness, and attention to channelise information about the Board and build its goodwill, stimulate interest, or change public opinion.
Besides this, publicity initiative should aim at communicating JAMB’s values, mission, and vision through trustable channels like news outlets, blogs, and opinion leaders. This will help the Board as an organisation to build its brand image organically.
In discharging this function, the PROs are expected to be able to manage crisis situations. Sometimes, the Board may be a victim of misunderstanding or misinformation among the target audience. The desired publicity during such periods should aim at removing such misunderstanding and maintaining the goodwill of the organisation.
When the desired information reaches the target audience organically namely candidates, parents, institutions and the public, it should automatically stimulate their interest.
Equally, certain information that can’t be effectively and convincingly communicated through conventional advertisements can be propagated through news publicity.
The preferred publicity approach should add credibility to the overall communication message and give the target audience a reason to believe and talk positively about the message and the brand.
Depending upon the sentiments of the target audience, publicity can be categorised into positive and negative publicity.
Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics. This management function involves helping organizations to adjust to their environment. The function is easier when the message you are sending is supported by action – that is your organization is walking the talk. There is need for proper understanding of PR as a management function. The role of the practitioner is broad not just managing crisis, blunders etc but in engendering trust, healthy relations, good perception and image, credibility and productivity. The ideal PRO should not allow his role to be narrowed to that of a dishonest spin doctor and cover up specialist who can’t be trusted or relied upon.
The sheer complexity of PR requires its practitioners to be well rounded in several fields of study particularly those that are media related. For that reason, participants were counselled on the imperative of regular training and updating on aspects of learning that relate to their job.
Participants were also enlightened on the need for caution and diligence while discharging their duties bearing in mind that there is a thin line between public relations (PR) and publicity. Whereas, the former (PR) is controlled internally, the latter (publicity) is not controlled and is contributed by external parties.