Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communication specialist, Social Media expert, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps brands(Profits and Non-profits)with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa)
Nigeria has been in the news for various reasons. For most part it has been in the negative. From Boko Haram to Kidnapping of over Two Hundred Chibok Girls and now with outbreak of Ebola Virus which is now being contained.
In Public affairs, diplomacy, relations among others, there is need for adequate information management especially during crisis. To come out better in the eyes of every stakeholder, there must be proper information flow system managed by a trained professional who understands and is familiar with new trend in communication system. It is also important that the major Spokesperson understands the weight of responsibility which is placed on him/her. SpokeSpersons of organization must understand whatever they say can make or marr the organization. Hence they do not speak frivolously. They speak from an informed knowledge perspective.
Nigeria Army has a tradition of professionalism, excellence, strategy among others which has distinguished it around Africa Continent. Nigeria Army had been involved in different wars and peace keeping missions which had yielded several great results in the past five decades. Nigeria Army personnel were trained and enjoyed the best. Nigeria Army that we know does not speak unadvicedly. The Army is known for action and less talk. Nigeria Army personnel are held in high esteem. May be because of discipline and forth rightness it is known with.
This cherished image of the Nigeria Army started going down as soon as it became involved in Politics. When it first came into power in 1960, Nigeria Army was still at it best but gradually citizens began to see the other side of this great institution. But that is a discussion for another day and another platform. Our major concern here today is how a great organization’s SpokeSpersons can become a liability instead of a great blessing.
As we know, Nigeria security system has been on fire with the advent of dreaded Islamic sect – Boko Haram, which is bent on ‘Islamising’ Nigeria and to banish western education. Nigeria Army, being the sole institution charged with protection of Nigeria from external incursion as well as all form of terrorism has largely been seen as ‘ineffective’. This is not because it has not played a gallant role but is incapacitated by lack of modern day Military equipment. This is subject to discussion as Nigeria government always claim the opposite.
In term of proper information coordination, one is worried as a professional. The communication unit of the Nigeria Army, which we all know is equipped with thorough professionals, had not been able to effectively project proper information flow which can make the public to see this great institution as effective, efficient as well as highly prepared, ready for present day challenges of national security and information management.
The height of this happened two days ago. Nigeria Army SpokeSperson, A Major General, Olukolade, was quoted by that highly referred International Media channel-BBC, as having called the medium to claim that the over two hundred Missing School girls in Chibok Nigeria, which has generated lot of buzz internationally, have been rescued. What a great and cheery news! But since that information was relayed, people had taken to social media to ask for photo evidence. But before the close of work yesterday, Army Spokesperson, in person of Major General Chris Olukolade, came out to refute his earlier information and claimed he was misinformed. This has since given Nigeria government, Army as well as its citizenry a bad name. At the international level, no one will take seriously any information coming out of this clime. It will also be difficult for international media to trust any information coming from our so called or highly placed position holders.
When then can a brand/organization Spokesperson becomes a liability?
When he/she lacks the professional and ethical skills as a communicator: A professional communicators understands that communication requires a lot of professional and ethical skills which can make or easily damage the organization.
When he under estimates the value of the position he/she holds: each position is important but some are more sensitive than the other. A Spokesman cannnot speak based on hearsay. He always carries a sense of responsibility. He knows whatever he says has the potential of destroying the foundation of his entity.
He/she does not understands crisis time is critically important to the future of the organization: Crisis time is critically demanding and it will take a highly trained communication professional to wade through the water. Therefore, he must be on his toe in information gathering per second per seconds. The communicators also know it must cross check and counter crossed before he makes a pronouncement. Anything outside of this a calamity.
He does not know or undervalue the challenges of the social age: in this social age, transparency, accountability, fact finding and conversation reign supreme. People are conversing, checking and cross checking also. Information is no longer in the hand of the Spokesperson alone, it can be found everywhere. Further evidence will be needed to convince the public in this age.
He does not understands if trust is lost everything is gone: Trust is the foundation of everything today. Without trust, brand or personal reputation means nothing to the public. A professional communicator who will be an asset therefore works tirelessly to build trust for himself and the organization he represents. Interestingly, trust is a fragile entity which can be broken like egg. Therefore it must be cherished and valued as well as prioritized. Every action must be viewed from this standpoint if the Spokesperson will be a added value.
We conclude this piece with a quote ‘My father told me character is the foundation of good reputation and must be cherished than money’. Just to reiterate, our mission here is apolitical but a professional analysis of issues so others can learn.