Between the 23rd to 25th of March, Public Relations professionals moved up the hill of the popular Kwahu mountains. Looking at the beautiful mountain with a serene and greener atmosphere, I find myself at the magnificent Rock City Hotel, arguably the biggest hotel in Africa, located inside Kwahu in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
My colleague Bridget Mensah, PR Manager, and I were representing Global Media Alliance at the 2023 National PR & Communication Summit and Annual General Meeting organised by the Institute of Public Relations (IPR Ghana).
As first-timers, we were excited to attend the IPR AGM & Summit. This is the industry’s biggest gathering. A big platform for networking and sharing ideas. Themed ‘Staying Credible Through Rough Patches’, the President of IPR Ghana, Mawuko Afadzinu, encouraged practitioners to stay professional and be truthful in the delivery of their work. “We are in the credibility business. We are in a business that is built on relationships and trust. So, we need to take charge and guard that.”
Key highlights & quotes from day one
1st panel session: Staying Credible Through Rough Patches – Moderated by Dzifa Bampoh, Head of Communications at Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo)
“We are in the perception-building era. To build trust and credibility, you have to ensure that the way people perceive you, the way you engage people, and the way you can address the room, will bring confidence to your organisation” – Moliehi Molekoa, Managing Director of Magna Carta.
“PR practitioners need to realise that the issue of trust and credibility is very important because if you stay untrue, in the long run, the spinning will catch up with you. We are not in the business of spin doctrine.” – Dr. Ken Ashigbey, CEO of Ghana Telecoms Chamber.
“As practitioners, our growth depends on us. If you’re in an organisation and no one sees you as improving yourself, you will always be there and stuck. Bring value to the organisation and respect will be accorded to you.” – Brigadier-General Eric Aggrey Quarshie, Director-General of Public Affairs, Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
2nd panel session: PR in the Boardroom. C-Suite Insights – Moderated by Kwame Gyan, Deputy Director – Consumer and Corporate Affairs Division at National Communications Authority
“For an organisation to have an effective PR paradigm, leadership should not see the PR person as a peripheral operator.” – Amb. Kabral Blay Amihere, Board Chair of GRIDCo.
“Thrive beyond being a PR professional to be an expert in your working industry to be considered a strategic partner.” – Mawuko Afadzinu, President of IPR Ghana.
“It is important for a CEO of an organisation to understand the work of the PR department. It enhances smooth working relationship and expectation.” – Dr. Afua Asabea Asare – Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA).
The excellence speech
Before the last panel session for day one, Mr. Joel Nettey, CEO of Innova DDB – Ghana and the first African to become the World President of the International Advertising Association (IAA) gave a powerful speech about excellence. And takeaways from that speech were “Almost doesn’t count” and “I never lose. It is either I win or I learn”.
3rd panel session: Becoming the Difference by Raising the Bar of Excellence – Moderated by Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo – Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Hollard Insurance.
“If you are not afraid enough, then you are not pushing hard enough.” – Dr. Ken Ashigbey, CEO of Ghana Telecoms Chamber.
“Don’t be afraid to try. Fear limits your vision to achieving excellence.” – Joel Nettey, CEO – Innova DDB.
“If you want to show excellence… it’s about impact.” – Prof. Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, Vice Chancellor of the University of Media, Arts, and Communication
Recognition of Brigadier-General Aggrey Quarshie
The day couldn’t have ended without saluting the feat chalked by Brigadier-General Eric Aggrey Quarshie. He is the first communications specialist to rise to the status of a Brigadier-General in the Ghana Military. He is also the first Director-General of the Public Affairs Unit of the Ghana Military.
Key highlights of day two
The second day was the meat of the summit. It was the day for the AGM, where key decisions were taken for the future of the IPR. It kicked off with a message from IPR President Mawuko Afadzinu. The day featured key activities – Delivery of the IPR Annual Report 2022, the financial statement for 2022, the accreditation ceremony, and panel sessions, among others. IPR Treasurer Afia Drah and Vice President Henry Nii Dottey took members through the Financial Statement and Annual Report respectively. These two items were approved by members.
The Annual Report captured some key activities embarked on by the association – Professional Development Seminars, Accreditation Programme Review, Industrial Stakeholder Engagements, and Industry Collaborations, among others. It was exciting to see World Public Relations Day (WPRD 2022) featured in the report. It was a very good collaborative initiative by Global Media Alliance and the IPR. For 2023, WPRD comes live in July. Await the big announcement.
Next was the accreditation ceremony. It witnessed 55 accredited members being inducted into the association. Big congratulations to all the new accredited members. Giving an overview, Gayheart Mensah, who oversees Professional Development, Education & Accreditation at IPR, said the increase in the number of members getting accredited is a result of the hard work and seriousness attached to the programme by the members.
Mr. Mensah indicated that the association is reviewing the accreditation curriculum programme to meet new industry demands. “We have looked at the two-course programme. Next year, we are going to have a three-course programme. We have decided to move away from the course-based accreditation to a profile-based accreditation to equip the PR practitioner with all the relevant skills to function effectively and bring value in the management room and to the organization.”
Women going places
Madam Esther Cobbah, a PR Legend and Chief Executive Officer at Strategic Communications Africa, gave a short message to practitioners on how they can be essential advisors to organisations. Let me bring you six nuggets from Madam Esther’s message to PR professionals.
- “Be a strategic partner. An organisation with a strategic goal can’t do without someone who is a strategic partner.”
- “Try to do new things. Don’t get bored. Don’t do the same thing over and over again.”
- “Always provide a business case for PR intervention.”
- “Better learn more about your organisation’s industry so you can stay ahead of them and provide strategic advice.”
- “Be cost-conscious. Let your organisation know how much money you’ve saved them with PR.”
- “Excellence always pays.”
Madam Esther Cobbah and Georgina Asare Fiagbenu, Senior Manager for Corporate Communications at MTN Ghana, shared their experiences and their road path to the top.
1st panel session: Women going places: Paths to Professional Excellence and Personal Fulfilment – Moderated by Beatrice Baiden – Public Relations Manager of Gaming Commission
“There are structures. The choices you make is what will help you navigate around the structures to succeed.” – Esther Cobbah
“You have to appreciate the value of learning from people who are better than you. That made me better.” – Georgina Asare Fiagbenu
2nd panel session: Change or Perish: New Age PR
“Recognise that the world has changed significantly. This is the environment of rapidity in which we live. You have to get used to it and know that the only survival route is transparency.” – Yaw Nsarkoh, Executive Vice President of Unilever.
“Allow technology to make your life better. Technology is not competing with us, but rather enabling us” – Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Hollard Ghana.
“It is important for us to keep up with the time. Change is constant. Technology is here to make us better and more efficient” – Moliehi Molekoa, Managing Director of Magna Carta.
Paul Asare Ansah, Former Director-General of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), made a presentation on ‘Breaking the Cycle of Distrust in Public Sector PR: How to Win Back Credence, Understanding and Acceptance”.
According to Asare Ansah, the fundamental challenge in the practice of public relations in the public sector is distrust. He urged practitioners to adopt ethical values in the delivery of their work when engaging the general public to win the trust of the people they serve.
After everything was said and done, it was time for some enjoyment – when good food meets good music. It was the IPR Dinner Ball. Guess who stole the show? Koku Anyidoho, the former Presidential Spokesman for the late President Prof. Evans Atta Mills. He serenaded us with his vocals on this song Jamaica Farewell “Down the way when the nights are gay” (sing along). With a live band and great DJing, members put on their dancing shoes and were on their feet till late.
Everything has an end
#IPR2023AGMSUMMIT officially came to an end on Saturday, March 25. With smiles and good exchanges, we all departed Rock City Hotel and got to our various homes safely. “From Rock City to Gold Coast City,” a member said on our WhatsApp page.
I had a good time…I guess you did too!
Those who couldn’t make it, please join us next year.
>>>The writer is the Assistant Head of Public Relations at Global Media Alliance, an integrated communications and entertainment company. He has over 10 years of professional experience in Public Relations, Media and Journalism. He is also an ecosystem enabler for creative arts and sustainability. LinkedIn: Ekow Quandzie, Twitter: @whyalwaysekow