Renowned Malawi entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Thomson Mpinganjira, who is also FDH Financial Holdings Limited chief executive officer, has urged public relations professionals in the country to uphold ethics and integrity when conducting their professional work.
Mpinganjira made the remarks at the first Public Relations Society of Malawi (PRSM) Annual Lakeshore Conference held under the theme Enhancing the Role of PR in Digital Age: Implications for Practitioners, in Mangochi.
During his keynote, Mpinganjira stressed the importance of PR as a profession and the importance of telling the truth.
“The importance of PR cannot be over-emphasized and we need PR to take its rightful strategic seat because of its importance. From experience, most executives appreciate the value of PR but to take PR to the next level, authentic measurement is critical and thanks to digital technology, this is now possible,” Mpinganjira said
“Always tell the truth. And always tell it with empathy, that’s the best PR in the world,” he added
On the rise of fake news on social media, Mpinganjira said the greatest vice that has risen with social media for PR practitioners is fake news which he said has tarnished the image of individuals, institutions and the country.
“The menace has not spared the private sector and it affects the growth of businesses.Therefore, let me implore the PR practitioners to be honest and trustworthy to build people’s trust when dispelling false information,” he said.
“Fake news is the deliberate and sometimes well calculated spread of disinformation for various reasons. Sometimes it is out of sheer ignorance but mostly it is targeted to attack a particular person or institution or to ignite a particular action like a riot or cyberbullying or cause conflict and confusion,” said Mpinganjira.
“It must always be borne is mind that when you write something on social media, it creates a digital footprint/digital dossier/digital shadow for life. So imagine when something is fake? Damaging a person, a brand or your own country? Attacks on our country are common on social media and potential tourists and investors alike see those first to make an impression of Malawi,” he explained
He went further to tip PR practitioners on enhancing their professionalism.
“For other media practitioners, especially given social media, please subject your writing to what one of the great philosophers of all time Socrates called The Triple Filter – truth, goodness, and usefulness. Before you write, ask the three questions: Is this true? Is this good? Is this useful? With this approach, you would have elevated your profession and patriotically served your country,” said Mpinganjira.
He urged practitioners to ensure that PR strategies are proactive and have clear programs for all key stakeholders, not to only react to crises, to make PR initiatives measurable to demonstrate their value and to keep learning and adapting to the changing world.
“In addition to tracking PR initiatives with metrics, there is need for greater transparency. The advent of social media and increase in the number of communication channels means that secrets and deception can be easily exposed and swiftly punished. Therefore, greater transparency, then, is another key trend in public relations. Be ready to reconcile any contradictory business practices,” advised Mpinganjira.
Mpinganjira was during the conference awarded an Honorary Fellow Award by the society in honour of his role in supporting the PR profession in the country and for the socio-economic contributions he has made to Malawi.
“I am at loss for words. I have attended so many conferences over the years and have never been honoured like this,” reacted Mpinganjira
Speaking on behalf of the PRSM Awards Committee, Chairman for the committee and PRSM executive member and the awards committee chairperson Thom Khanje, said the Honorary Fellow award was introduced by PRSM to recognise an individual from within or outside the society.
“The award is in recognition of outstanding contribution and service to the Malawi’s PR industry and demonstration of “the values, ethos, spirit and principles that are valued in the PR profession in other public undertakings which Dr. Mpinganjira has demonstrated,” Khanje said.
Khanje, however, called on institutions to have public relations officers to save their corporate image and facilitate easy access to information.
The conference largely discussed effects of digital media and fake news on organisations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :