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Using Social Media to Promote Government Development Agenda……..The Role of Government PROs

By Linda Owusu

 

Democracy is upheld when citizens are well informed about matters of the state. However, how individuals communicate information has changed drastically since social media was born. It is remarkable how people consume and interact on social media platforms.

 

As a consequence, Public Relations is also undergoing a massive transformation due to the emergence of diverse communication channels. Therefore, public relations officers will have to dance to the tunes of the new media, with its attendance wide range of channel to convey government programmes to the public. They can also adopt effective public relations plan to interpret government development programmes through social media to the public.

 

New media or social media as it is preferably called refers to internet-based operations that build on technology which enables users to interact and exchange content or information. The content on social media is easily accessible via many different forms of digital media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Social media is changing the overall media landscape and has allowed news to be accessed within seconds as events happen.

 

The demand to know what’s happening immediately makes it ideal for PROs to have multiple social media platforms to handle crucial government programmes. It allows the public to contribute to and control any story faster than any traditional news outlet. Social media can help PROs build an interactive relationship between their organisations and key shareholders since relationship building is a core function of Public Relations.

 

The most significant influence of social media is that everyone feels they have a voice. It has created a forum for any member of the public who has an opinion, which has led to a genuine wave of voice on social media. Posting a link to a story can reach a lot of people depending on your followers and how you encourage others to share the information. It isn’t only a good way to share memes and keep up what’s trending, is a powerful tool for the PROs to interact with the public. That is, it gives the government public relations officers the opportunity to pass on information to the public and seeks the public’s inputs especially on a new policy.

 

Social media can be used positively to promote government programmes. Therefore, government PROs can effectively use the social media to study their publics and listen to their reactions to new policies and table their communication through multiply platforms to address their concerns. 

 

Citizen engagement with policies and issues that matters most to them help build trust and humanise the government. It allows to be transparent for the public to trust the government more. PROs can leverage on social media to build a good rapport between the government and the people.

 

The question, however, is, how many government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have social media accounts. It is necessary for MDAs to have a platform to showcase the government’s achievements and regularly update the public on government agendas and programs to allow for investment opportunities and feedback from the public.

 

Public relationship officers should foster new relations and maintain prevailing ones by being active on social media, relay information and address public concerns. Studies have shown that social media sites can bring about reforms in public administration, enhance service delivery and the flow of information.

 

Social media requires consistency in communication to keep handling complaints and critical comments. This means that social media use and monitoring must become a daily role of government PROs.

 

As a platform that encompasses anything that uses the internet, government PROs should explore all the various platforms at their disposal to connect the government to the citizens.

 

The writer is a Level 400 student of the Department of Communication Studies, UCC, on attachment at the Information Services Department.

 

 

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