Experts in the communication and digital space have educated students of the University of Ghana, Department of Communication studies, on how to use strategic communication to promote development in this digital era.
According to the experts, strategic communication in the context of decision-making or management hinges on the purposeful use of communication by an organisation to fulfill its mission. It can mean either communicating a concept, a process, or data that satisfies a long-term strategic goal of an organisation by allowing the facilitation of advanced planning, among others.
They added that in an era of digitalisation dominated by technological devices such as smartphones, Blockchain technology, robotics, video-streaming, e-books, social media, blogging, Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, websites, ATMs and many more, it is important for student communicators to be well-equipped with these new developments before joining the workforce.
These remarks were made at a public lecture as part of activities to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of the UG Communication Studies Department. The deliberations bordered on using strategic communication in communicating development beyond politics, under the theme: ‘Communicating Development beyond Politics; Can the Tenets of Strategic Communication Help in the Digital Era?’
President, Africa University College of Communications (AUCC), Kojo Yankah, remarked that Ghana and Africa as a whole are in a period of information disorder in the digital age which needs to be treated with care in order not to jeopardise the sanity of societies.
“In today’s world, it is very easy to create, modify, facilitate, and widely share different messages. The information environment is polluted in many ways. Even if the information itself is genuine, it might be used out of context and turned into a propaganda weapon”
“Misinformation is where false information is shared but no harm is meant. Disinformation is when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm. Malinformation is when genuine information is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere,” he said.
He mentioned that unfortunately, all these variants are common in the country where people share false information freely, sometimes to draw attention to an otherwise unknown or little-known media channel.
CEO of Strategic Communications Africa (Stratcomm Africa) Esther Cobbah reiterated that the development of any country in the 21st century is central to the use of strategic communication, adding that digital technology has the potential to pollute the environment but it can also be positively used to sanitise the environment, advance development depending on how well it is managed.
Madam Cobbah explained that communicating development in the digital era can be achieved only when strategic communication is at the helm of affairs, hence, urging government agencies, corporate bodies, and traditional authorities to communicate development with policies and programmes that specifically leads to the benefits of the targetted area/people.
She cited opinion leaders as one of the important groups in the communication circle that play an unimaginable role in communicating development strategically, and should not be undermined. Stating that if such people are not fed with the right information, they communicate what they think is right.
Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Kathleen Addy, on her part, bemoaned the neglect of her outfit over the years on matters of national discourse, especially in the introduction of new initiatives and policies by governments. She called for state actors to employ her office in strategic policy communication.
National Petroleum Authority CEO, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, on his part, emphasised that governments can use strategic communication to decentralise their developmental communications to emphasise infrastructural development in rural areas.