Mr. Stephen Kirogo, CBS, Chairperson Public Service Commission,
Ms Jane Gitau, Chairperson PRSK,
Ms Eunice Muthamia, Ag. Director Public Communications
Entire PRSK Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure this morning to address members of the Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK) at this summit whose theme is “The Evolution of Public Relations: Safeguarding the future of a Practice.” It is doubly joyous for me to address this gathering in my capacity as a Principal Secretary and a former Chairperson of this society. I feel very much at home in the presence of my professional colleagues.
I am also proud to note the progressive steps to transform PRSK into a formidable professional society taken by the Society’s leadership and members from where we started more than a decade ago. It is gratifying to note that the Society has been growing from strength to strength in membership an activities.
Within a few weeks of my appointment to this docket, I officiated over the launch of the first PRSK strategic plan and would like to encourage you that the ongoing engagements on the proposed draft bill are noteworthy pointers to a society taking a leap of faith by seeking to secure and maintain legislatively grounded practice guidelines.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are all aware, these are steps that will position the PR practice and its practitioners in the league of true professionals. Any professional practice worth its salt enjoys legislative regulations and is guided by strict adherence to operating standards. As PR professionals, we are now at the crossroads and there can be no turning back because upholding of professional ethics and values cannot be understated.
It is therefore important for me to mention that the Government of Kenya is keen to see the transformation of PR practice in both the private and public sectors. This practice holds a crucial key to entrenching the constitutional spirit of national values and principles of governance.
Under Article 10 of the constitution, the national values and principles of governance include:
- patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people;
- human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised;
- good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability; and
- sustainable development.
These are crucial principles and values that were envisioned to anchor and saturate the value of a Kenyan brand in the psyche of all Kenyans. Efforts to entrench these values as part of a national development agenda, in my view, will always remain under the ambit of PR professionals both from the Public and the private sector. We will need to develop strategies, tools and even outline mediums to inculcate this very important Article 10.
Let us, therefore, strive to join hands and espouse the value of PR as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
We also note that, in the public sector, “The Big Four” Agenda will remain heavily reliant on PR practitioners as the government seeks to rally support from all stakeholders. The basic awareness effort has been well delivered thus far but a lot more needs to be done. The Government has made tremendous progress in the implementation of strategic programs and policies under the Economic Transformation Agenda by strengthening the resilience of our economy through laying a solid foundation for Kenya’s industrialisation as envisaged in the Vision 2030.
To accelerate industrialization, the country aims to address the remaining bottlenecks that continue to hold our economy from achieving its full potential by focusing on “The Big Four” Plan over the next five years.
It is important for me to note that, a focus on the “The Big Four” provides a wide opportunity for PR practice involvement due to the critical targets to be achieved. For example, efforts to support value addition and raise the manufacturing sector’s share of GDP to 15 percent by 2022 in a bid to accelerate economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty requires extensive stakeholder mapping and engagement. The Government has therefore embraced PR fundamentals such as relationship building, trustworthiness and effective communication on multiple channels as a delivery mechanism.
It is my challenge to you that we can no longer behave like it is business as usual and we expect the Public Communication Officers (PCOs), who are charged with the responsibility of steering government PR, to play their critical part.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, allow me to comment on the theme for this year’s Summit. The evolution of PR practice is happening at a fast rate within Government. The President, his Deputy and all Cabinet Secretaries have adopted an all-inclusive government approach to deliver. You may have noticed the unity of purpose espoused by the President, His Deputy President, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries among other leaders in raising confidence and encouraging students and teachers during the ongoing this year’s national examinations.
A function traditionally reserved for execution by the Ministry of Education, has seen all Government officers join hands to ensure a smooth delivery with commendable consistency in messaging.
I also wish to inform you that budgetary allocation for mass media skills development, among other crucial efforts, have been increased to more than Ksh.350 million this financial year. These are funds earmarked to ensure the upskilling of our dedicated PCOs to enable them to improve on delivery. Further empowerment including infrastructural resourcing, local and international exposure will continue to be undertaken.
To this end, I am optimistic that PCOs, among other PRSK members, will individually seek to play a bigger role in shaping national discourses particularly on social media platforms and take note of the evolution of communication which has regrettably seen the emergence of negative opinion shapers on digital platforms.
We cannot afford to be bystanders as others continue to shape public opinion and, sadly, set the agenda on matters they hardly even comprehend.
Finally, I highly acknowledge PRSK’s Council for exhibiting renewed vigour and energy towards advancing the value of the PR practice in Kenya. The Council has performed well, and I also laud their inclusive approach where they engage many including the Fellows who can give wise counsel gained over many years of experience. I have no doubt that projects initiated by the Society will provide a foundation to entrench the value of the practice.
With those few remarks, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my honour and privilege to declare the PRSK 2018 Summit officially open.