By Stuart Bogere Oswald
TheMinister of ICT and National Guidance, Judith Nabakooba, has appealed to Public Relations practitioners to fight falsehoods and fake news in the country as they exercise their professional activities amid emergency of new media.
Nabakooba made the remarks at the handover and swearing ceremony of the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU) in Kampala on Friday.
The event saw Stephen Mwanga takeover PRAU leadership from Sarah Kagingo, who has served her full term 2018-2020.
She says that there is need to build a new body of knowledge that will guide the practice of Public Relations within the new normal.
“As government, we expect that PR practitioners to be active participants in the fight against fake news. PR practitioners should not just look on as the mainstream media continues to be a source of miss information and chaos,” said the Minister.
She said the growth of the new media especially online platforms has come with its challenges where everyone is publishing content, thus reaching out to public relations professional to help in fighting the misinformation that comes along.
“PR practitioners are expected to step in and complement their relatives in the media by emphasizing and promoting the truth, dispelling and correcting fake news,” Minister Nabakooba noted.
The Minister of Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, has for the last 10 years been the patron of PRAU.
Nabakooba said that the body has over this period been consistently well governed without hearing of any other emerging splinter or competing organization.
“This therefore is a sign of good leadership and satisfaction among the members. We are all happy with the achievements that PRAU has managed to register over the years as listed by the outgoing President,” explained the Minister.
She also thanked the members for their partnerships with government specifically with Uganda Police, UPDF and other agencies, before alerting the new leadership of the challenges ahead of them.
“For the new leadership and continuing members, there is a lot that you need to do taking this brand of PRAU forward.
I want to challenge you to think and open your horizons beyond the traditional understanding of what we have always understood public relations to be,” noted Nabakooba.
She said the world is currently faced with the COVID19 pandemic, something that has changed how relate and network on a daily as well as changing public perceptions about business and public work.
As such, she said that organizations should move quickly to prioritize saving lives, safety of their employees, keeping communities safe by emphasizing SOPs.
Nabakooba said: “Under the new normal, we expect that PR practitioners should be able to sit down with their clients and agree on how they intend to prioritise the safety of their employees and clients against COVID-19.”
She also said the practice of donating a few items to people in need as it has always been done, is still a good standard for PR practitioners. She however said that as a professional body, there is need to do more.