By Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi
Nov 17, 2015.
A four-day intensive capacity building workshop for Chief Press Secretaries to governors of the country’s 17 southern states kicked off yesterday in Lagos, with particular emphasis on how to counter radical narratives. It was designed to, among other things, sharpen the participants’ skills.
Organised and funded by the United States government, the workshop is third in the series, coming after two earlier versions that were held in Kaduna and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the United States Consulate’s Public Affairs Officer, Mrs. Dehab Ghebreab, the workshop were organised in response to the federal government’s request for help in the area of training for government spokespersons, at both the federal and state levels.
“The U.S Mission in Nigeria continues to assist members of the news media and spokespersons at government agencies to enhance their skills to better serve the Nigerian people,” she said. “These types of workshops and U.S based training opportunities that we offer through the International Visitor Leadership Programme and other programmes, demonstrate our commitment to the deep partnership we have long enjoyed with Nigeria.”
Describing effective government press operations as “critical”, Ghebreab said each participant’s ability to deliver the federal government’s messages about counterterrorism, ending corruption and furthering economic development, was as important to the future of Nigeria as conveying state governors’ priorities to their respective citizens.
She reminded the participants about the importance of open and unfettered access to information and the “tremendous amount of responsibility” their jobs entail. Their roles, she noted, would eventually shape public knowledge and perceptions about the government.
Ghebreab said: “doing your job effectively, in a fast paced, technology-driven world requires cutting edge skills.”
Mr. Eduardo Cue, an expert in government communications in the news media, was on hand to anchor the workshop.
Cue began yesterday’s session with a detailed explanation on the roles of a government spokesperson. He harped on the need for the participants to cultivate a good, professional working relationship with journalists, in order to make it easy for messages to be passed across. Among several other tips, he advised them not to dissipate their energies on reacting to every negative publication that appears in a newspaper. “You have to pick your fights,” he said.
The nature of press releases was also discussed extensively with the active participation of the audience. Many chief press secretaries were sighted at the workshop, which ends on Thursday.