As the 2023 election campaigns get on the way, a public relations and communication practitioner has called for more public relations and communication experts to be engaged by the various political parties and candidates to ensure that the campaigns are built and delivered on key communication strategies instead of adoption of misinformation, fake news and lack of authenticity by untrained communicators, as already being noticed.
Victor Ikem said trained communication and public relations professionals should play a part in designing the communication strategies and messages to ensure that information that citizens are exposed to will help provide a clear and distinct choice and will enable the electorates to sufficiently assess various candidates on key merits, not based on false information.
He noted that communication is important for achieving national development and therefore must be allowed to be handled by trained professionals who are knowledgeable of the relevant ethics and guiding principles for public policy dialogue and issues creation
He noted that to guarantee that the 2023 campaign is not dominated by false narratives, fake news, and stories that lack authenticity, the various political parties should consider deploying communication professionals instead of individuals who are not grounded in communication principles and ethics.
Ikem who holds a Ph.D. in development Communication said that for the campaigns to be meaningful and for the electorate to have a clear understanding of the choices before them, emanating from the campaign messages, those who are trained in communication should be allowed to design the communication frameworks to aid the political parties.
“Many watchers have insisted on an issues-based campaign, this is important but can only be achieved with a well-organized communication architecture designed and implemented by trained Public Relations and communication practitioners who will be able to evaluate the issues in the public space, design the appropriate policy agenda, decide relevant communication channels and deploy these campaign agenda to influence public opinion
“Public relations and communication professionals have very important roles in this coming election. It is in the interest of the country that our political campaigns are not focused on expanding our fault lines as it pertains to ethnicity, religion, and region, but focused on policy discussions, arguments and debates that will foster national interaction, integration, and enrichment of our political process.
“The role of public relations is to mold public opinion and to advise political actors on which options are best in addressing issues of public interest. The many spokespersons will need to harmonize themselves under a cohesive campaign communication strategy and an agenda” Ikem noted
He also called on journalists to fact-check information before publishing saying that fake news and misinformation have become dangerous pollutants of the 21st-century information and communication ecosystem.
He advised journalists to work with the public relations team of the various political parties to verify news before making it public on the various news channels as one of the key disadvantages of fake news is that it reduces audience confidence in the news media and diminishes credibility of the source which impacts negatively on the value of communication in society.