May 08, 2018 News
“The media must be seen as our friend and not our foe.” This was the assertion of Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr. Karen Cummings, as she addressed a communication consultation forum at the Marriott Hotel yesterday.
According to the Minister, “It cannot be over emphasised that the media plays a critical role in the dissemination of information to large audiences.” For this very reason, she stressed that “establishing a mutually beneficial media relationship is crucial to the success of our communication activities.”
Minister Cummings made it clear yesterday before an audience of health workers that “we must be accommodating to the media and be prepared to share information we believe is essential for the public to know.”
She however noted that although it is important to establish healthy relationships with the media, “we must also be responsible and understand that communicating with the media must not be done in an indiscriminate manner.”
Supporting this notion was the Ministry’s Programme Head for Public Relations and Health Promotion, Mr. Terrence Esseboom, who added, “we should see the media as a friend…too often people see the media as a foe and are always afraid.”
Minister Cummings in her continued effort to qualify the importance of forging good media relationships underscored the importance of accurate messaging. This is light of her conviction that “accurate messaging makes for clear and concise communication” thus the need for careful attention to be paid to details at all times.
“We need to ensure that that our messages are devoid of mistakes of any kind; sloppy writing and poor command of the English Language must not be tolerated,” Minister Cummings warned.
Such shortcomings should be prevented at all times, the Minister emphasized, even as she revealed that “apart from being a blemish on the Ministry’s image and demonstrating a serious breach of professionalism, poor message construction can also have far reaching effects, as it could mislead recipients and result in adverse and harmful outcomes.”
She highlighted too that the ability to communicate is essential to the success of any undertaking and can be deemed an important factor in the achievement of its objectives. But according to the Public Health Minister, “communication does not just happen; it must be organised, developed and built.”
She moreover challenged health officials gathered yesterday to “let your collective efforts build the best and most effective communication strategy that will serve us well.”
The Minister was speaking at a ‘Development of the National Communication Strategic Plan’ consultation which is being held in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation.
The forum which is slated to continue today, will see efforts being made at defining and prioritising the focus areas of a new Communication Strategic Plan for the Public Health Ministry. Added to this, keen attention will be given to crafting key messages and discussing the ideal communication channels as well as the need for collaboration in ensuring that the right messages are disseminated to the public at the right time.
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