1. How would you describe yourself and your career journey?
As an enthusiastic and personable communication professional with over a decade and half years’ experience in training, planning and implementing several successful communication strategies for development projects and corporate brands. My work experiences traverse different communication specializations and work settings. I have worked in corporate, academic, journalism, consulting/agency and development work spaces in and outside Ghana. Over the past seven years, in my engagement as Communication and Outreach Officer at the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), I have been primarily responsible for ensuring that Ghanaians become aware of and appreciate the benefits and impacts of the investments made towards improving Ghana’s power sector through the Ghana Power Compact Program. I have also contributed to the body of knowledge in the communication field as co-author of a research article on political communication in the book “Ghanaian Politics and Political Communication”. I am registered Accredited Member of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) Ghana, an institution I joined in 2014.
I describe my career as an exciting journey filled with several light bulb moments. The experiences gathered across the different communication fields have all shaped my sound understanding of the profession, its needs and benefits to different types of entities. They have also influenced my professional practice.
2. Walk us through a typical day in your life as a Public Relations practitioner.
You will admit that the PR professional’s work, in some ways, is akin to that of a medical doctor; we are always on call and are expected to prescribe communication solutions to different situations. You can seldomly predict when a “communication ailment” will break out. Therefore, one is practically working round the clock. So, for me, the day never seems to end. I try to keep abreast of whatever is happening in Ghana and around the globe. This helps me to identify and suggest strategies to the communication team (function) on how we can support in managing any risks associated with what is emerging. This means, I scavenge for news about the power sector, our partners and the implementing entities on the Compact Program, as well as about MiDA. I visit Facebook and Twitter and rely on the curated media monitoring services from Google Alerts. I share any relevant content with the staff and management via WhatsApp. I try to engage with the Project Managers to keep up with project milestones and pick out story opportunities as their projects progress. Many of these are informal meetings which are later formalized after briefing the Communication Team and identifying communication opportunities relevant to that project. I draft press releases, write stories for the quarterly newsletter (MiDA News) and collaborate with my colleague responsible for web communication on content design and messaging for our online platforms. When there is an event, I would usually lead in its planning, and team up with the Procurement Unit to identify service providers for support. Occasionally, I make presentations to the Board and attend Management Meetings.
So, a typical day involves Media Monitoring, some aspect of Internal Communication, and mostly writing – releases, stories, reports, memos, letters etc. and a review of any planned and or implemented communication activity.
3. What are some of the challenges you encounter at work daily? How do you deal with them?
PR professionals encounter several challenges. Some cut across the industry, while others may be peculiar to a sector or specific organization. There is still a general lack of understanding of the profession, which influences views on our significance and how we should perform our function. PR is still an afterthought for some and is required only for publicity purposes. I try to deal with the challenge by espousing our professional values in the best way I can. Within the organization, I take advantage of opportunities to sensitize my colleagues on how strategic PR/communication can better address an issue internal or external to the organization.
The emergence of new media technology is forcing professionals to acquire several new skills. We have a lot to learn and many skills to acquire to remain efficient. Keeping up with the ever-advancing technological trends presents its own challenges to which I am prey. I try to identify which skills best suit my work conditions and develop them. I also rely on others with the skills to provide services.
Again, Ghana’s pluralistic media environment, while good for democracy, also has its drawbacks for our profession. It is never easy keeping up, whether monitoring or facilitating information flow, with the over 40 broadcast media houses (in Accra alone). Each media house seeks exclusivity and deserves to be fairly treated per our ethical standards. The large media numbers also impact the communication budget. To address this challenge, I set up a media corps, who have supported MiDA throughout the years, in promoting the benefits of the Power Compact Program to Ghanaians. They have been the backbone of our success, and for this we at MiDA are grateful
4. What inspires your delivery as a practitioner?
Communication/ PR is about problem-solving, no matter the complexity. I am driven by the desire to find strategic solutions to problems. Success, for me, is knowing that the results we celebrate have been attained based on deliberate, researched, planned and programmed action. I always look forward to engaging with new problems; they offer opportunities to test new approaches or ideas.
5. What’s the one thing you would say has driven your success at work?
Perhaps the belief in respecting every human being, no matter their circumstances. Respecting views and offering the spaces for the views to be traded. As indicated earlier, I am a firm believer in participatory and consultative approaches. Demonstrating respect for all your stakeholders is a sure step to a successful campaign.
6. What next for your comms career?
I expect to grow in my communication career and acquire skills that keep me relevant in the profession over time. I have thought about exploring other communication fields; particularly that of family communication. I also hope that someday, I will be inspired to contribute to the body of PR knowledge in Ghana.