In the new constitutional dispensation and in a democracy like Kenya, citizens are now becoming more educated and are demanding rights to exercise control over institutions that once controlled them.
Government communication officers must demonstrate that the Government of the day is working towards the achievement of these goals as promised and stated in its manifesto and campaign platform. It must pass the test when called to account.
High demand for public information calls for strategic and quality advice from communication experts in the Government.
The challenge of handing the press increases with the expansion of democratic space. In Kenya’s experience, the on-going saga of alleged misappropriation of millions of shillings belonging to the National Hospital Insurance Fund is a powerfully illustrative example.
Poor coordination, inconsistencies and inaccuracies in providing information inevitably dents the image of an organization, sometimes beyond repair.
Role of communication experts
It is unfortunate that in some Government organizations, senior officers don’t even understand and appreciate the role of their communication experts and how best they can enlist their services in a bid to achieve the overall goal of the organization.
Most of these communication experts have all the skills, experience and depth of knowledge required to undertake sophisticated assignments that can improve the image of the Government.
They have a range of skills covering journalism, information science, international relations, communications, theatrical production and broadcasting. They are a link between the Government and private media houses and the general public.
They are well placed to explain to the media on government policy or position on critical issues. But some senior government officials don’t know or appreciate this fact.
If one wants to know the power of information and communication, it is useful to watch what our political elites are doing in their campaign strategies.
They have ushered in the political era of marketing, media and public communications. They are now surrounded by spin doctors in the form of communications directors.