The Dean of the Faculty of Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing (FOPAM) at GIJ, Dr Mavis Essandoh, has called on the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to restructure and re-strategise their communication system to focus more on pre-crisis communication rather than post crisis communication.
She said although the organisations had some communication systems in place, it was not enough to tackle the number of disasters that occurred in the country.
Dr Essandoh made the call when she presented findings on a study on disaster during the Ghana Institute of Journalism’s third inter-faculty lecture in Accra last Friday.
It was on the topic; “Fighting ‘real’ fire? A case of two Ghanaian Crises Management Organisations.
The seminar was to, among others, give lecturers of the institution the opportunity to present their research work to seek input to improve the quality of the paper.
Objectives of study
Dr Essandoh said her research was undertaken following frequent newspaper reportage on fires and disasters across the country and the lack of research work on the issue.
She, therefore, said the study sought to find out how the two organisations defined and framed crises or disaster and what they considered to be crises situations
She said it was also aimed at identifying the communication techniques or strategies used by the two crisis management organisations in communicating with the public and how they managed fire and other disasters in the country.
Dr Essandoh said the study found out that the two organisations only had a few planned education programmes for the public before crises/disasters.
“They used face to face and reactive means to communicate during crises, and newspaper reports suggest that they did not provide reports on the causes of fire incidents and disasters after they had occurred,” she said.
She also indicated that in spite of logistics constraints, the organisations provided unsatisfactory information to the public whenever there was a fire outbreak.
“The study thus recommends the provision of more resources and support towards the work of the institutions to enable them to meet the needs of the Ghanaian populace,” she said.
She called for more public education to be done on fires and disasters, seeking the support of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
She also proposed that other studies must be conducted on the entire operations of the GNFS and NADMO as a disaster management organisation, as well as a studies on Public Relations practices at the GNFS and NADMO, among others.
The Deputy Rector of GIJ, Professor Eric Opoku Mensah, in his remarks said conceptualisation of research ideas came from this stimulating and engaging atmosphere for research discourse to get ideas about papers.
He said the presentation and engagement was crucial to build the confidence of lecturers to deliver a paper and also sharpen their research efforts.
In view of crisis communication, he urged the lecturers and participants at the seminar to, as PR Practitioners, prepare for crisis so that they would be able to dip into their arsenals and take the right tool to handle a crisis situation.