By Joe Imoagene
Many times, public office holders in Nigeria are perceived as incompetent and corrupt largely because of how they are projected and packaged in the media. In Nigeria’s media history, Governors, Ministers and the office of the President have been the hardest hit.
We have seen instances where some political office holders have performed in the actual sense but the lack of a coherent media strategy makes them look really bad in the media. In some cases, the politicians who are perceived to have performed are the ones who have been able to use the media effectively in communication.
The immediate past administration of President Jonathan scored many firsts through the Transformation Agenda of that Government. But a poorly executed media strategy was the bane of Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan’s first error began with the choice of his media team. As with most Nigerian politicians, the practice usually is to hire a practicing journalist to manage their media relations. But they forget that image making and perception building are bigger than just media relations. There is a limit to what journalists can do as image-makers. While they may have the media contacts, the strategy that creates perceptions, set media narratives is beyond mere journalism.
In Kogi State for instance, the public and media perception of the state governor, Idris Ichalla Wada is a far cry from the actual work he has done in that state. It is either one of two things; the state governor does not take his media management seriously or his handler(s) is too incompetent to set the right narratives and effectively project the work of their principal. If the state governor has a media aide, he or she may need to provide explanations as to why the governor has such a poorly managed media perception in spite of the good work he has done.
The difference between a Governor like Tunde Fashola of Lagos and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa-Ibom was purely a matter of media management. Fashola may not have outperformed some state governors, but he used media very well that Lagosians till tomorrow believe he is the best performing governor ever in Nigeria. But the facts on ground suggest otherwise, especially when you have visited Lagos and Akwa-Ibom.
From recent indications, the administration of Muhammadu Buhari seems to have begun on the same template approach to media management; hire a newspaper editor and leave the rest to fate. Since Femi Adesina assumed office, it has been one gaffe to another. And it will continue like this because journalists by profession are template-oriented. They are not public relations experts. They are trained to report and write news but public relations strategy is more about how the public responds and reacts to news and information.
It appears we are in an era of incompetent media handlers who end up ruining the image and public perception of their principals. Goodluck to them!
About Joe Imoagene:
Joe, a public affairs analyst, sent this in from Benin-City, Edo State.
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