Practitioners in public relations (PR) have called on organizations to involve them in decision making, boardroom discussions and day to day running of their business entities.
They made this call during the first National Public Relations Symposium in Kampala recently. The symposium was organized by the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) under the theme, “Public Relations in shaping the future of organizations.”
Stephen Mwanga, the president of PRAU said that whereas public relations officers are always asked to speak on behalf of organizations' decisions made by top management, they are never part of the drafting of these decisions which poses a challenge for the profession.
“We want to deliver PR practitioners to the boardroom. We want to have legal recognition so that our practitioners are able to participate in top decision making meetings of their organizations so that when they go to communicate these decisions, they communicate them effectively because they know how they were processed,” Mwanga said.
He added that the success of organizations is heavily hinged on how well their public relations is handled and they are therefore convinced that this symposium sets a clear path of where the industry needs to focus to enable further professionalization of public relations practice in the country.
“The PR industry continues to grapple with copious challenges arising from especially the emergence of digital media. Some of these stretch from the evolution of misinformation to the emergence of fake news, to infiltration of the profession by masqueraders and to the lack of a legal regime.”
Mwanga also reiterated that the PR industry requires an all-encompassing approach to discuss solutions to some of these challenges and that the association is already in pursuit of statutory recognition to that effect.
“We are drafting the PR regulatory bill which is intended to streamline the PR practice and training in the country as well promote the profession because it is good to do business when you have legal backing. It will empower us more to deal with the challenges our practitioners face and also empower PR practitioners to speak with authority for their organizations,” Mwanga said.
Ramathan Ggoobi, the permanent secretary, ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and secretary to the Treasury who delivered the keynote address at the symposium called on organizations to be awake to the value public relations can deliver towards their overall objectives.
Ggoobi mentioned that the importance of cohesion and synergy of the PR functions heavily relies on inclusion of these functions at the highest level (in the boardroom), so that public relations is integrated into the decision making process and execution of organizations.
The knowledge packed event that had over 200 participants was lined up with several renowned panelists and a wide range of panel topics including, journalism and PR in a crisis, public relations in shaping the future of organizations, building the gaps between classroom knowledge and practices, social and governance agenda, among others.
The event was graced by the minister of ICT and National Guidance and PRAU patron, Dr Chris Baryomunsi who was the guest of honor and also attended by key players in the PR industry including; Yusuf Walusimbi, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, Julius Mucunguzi, Vianney Luggya, Hellen Nanteza, Sarah Kagingo, Jimmy Kiberu, among others.
The National PR Symposium is a concept birthed by the current PRAU governing council led by the current president, Stephen Mwanga and vice president Tina Wamala. The main purpose was to lay a platform onto which all communication professionals and key PR stakeholders in Uganda would meet to dialogue on pertinent issues relating to the communication trade in Uganda; aimed at strengthening the communication profession in Uganda.