Govt’s Reputation Crisis Self-inflicted, Says PR Expert, Okereke

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By Emmanuel Olorunda-Otaru

Former President of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Mr. Mike Okereke, has blamed the reputation crisis plaguing the current government and the country on faulty approach and strategy of defensive public relations.

According to the public relations guru, “We are planning without thinking through. What is the impact of the government policy on the environment? We need to get communication experts and media to advise the government, as politics is different from professionalism. If the government strategy is not done professionally, no amount of threat to the media will solve the problems-anybody fighting the media will fail.”

Okereke gave the admonition during the centennial birthday celebration and thanksgiving of his mother, Grace Wilson Okereke, who was born on October 20, 1920, in Port-Harcourt, last Tuesday in Lagos.

He said: “I was the past president of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, and African Public Relations Association. We had advised the government before that whatever we are doing, our reputation as a country matters a lot. The government should re-engineer its reputation management strategy. We cannot have any development, no matter how rich we are, without managing our reputation. With what is happening in the country at the moment is not right; you don’t use force to manage public relations. You don’t ban or begin to fight media houses to report good things about you.

“This is something that could have been done through public relations. Look at the problems of the country, survey it and map out strategy to know the current thinking about the country and strategise to address it.

“Get experts who will help to reposition the country. The government should now get to know that the world is competitive as well as how to reposition the country.”

According to him, “Investors are sensitive about where to invest their money, and at the moment, we don’t have such place.”

He equally advised the government to have a crisis management plans, adding: “We are not doing strategic planning, what we are doing is called defensive public relations-when things happen, and you start defending the country, and giving excuses.”