Moderator Muntaha Al Ramahi with Dr Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, Sir Craig Oliver and Mike Kujawski. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
SHARJAH: International experts gathered at the International Government Communication Forum called for prompt and positive communication by governments. During a panel discussion on “Challenging the Lack of Capacity in an Era of Change Communication,” they also emphasised the need for experienced communication specialists to ensure the integrity of communication in a digital age.
Dr Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, Ministry of Media Spokesman and Director-General of the Centre for Government Communication in KSA, advocated the need of introducing specialized courses on government communication in schools and universities to keep communication officials ahead of the curve.
“When people reach out to government or other platforms and don’t get a quick response – or any response at all – they voice their frustration, and governments get defensive, he added. “This causes trust issues, and a lack of transparency,” he said.
He also highlighted crisis management as vital as having fire extinguishers in a building and added that governments should have “crisis control drills” so that they know what to do in case of an emergency.
He used New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a great example of what a good communicator looks like.
“In the recent attacks in New Zealand, and I hope nothing like that ever happens again, Jacinda Ardern was quick, emotional and direct. As a result, nobody blamed her for the attacks. Instead people admired her. Governments need to let go of bureaucracy and embrace change and a faster pace. People are compassionate, and governments need to reflect that in their communications.”
Sir Craig Oliver, Director of Politics and Communication for former British Prime Minister David Cameron, supported Dr Al-Maghlouth’s views.
“As a government, it’s important to act fast, know your story and send positive communications out to balance negative communication. It’s also important to know that people react emotionally before they act rationally, which is often the opposite of how governments act.”
Sir Oliver added that it was vital to hire people who understood that. “Great communication needs long-term, strategic thought, and good people.