PIA head urges info. officers to be catalysts of change towards national development
Philippine Information Agency (PIA) director general Jose Mari Oquiñena urged government information officers to be catalyst of change towards national development.
“Public information officers should not only be disseminators of information, but also catalysts of change towards national development,” Oquiñena told government information officers who attended the Skills Enhancement Seminar and Climate Change Forum held June 18-20, in Baguio City.
Oqui?ena also reminded the participants not just to inform but also to form and “help empower the nation through leadership, stewardship, and innovation.”
He also added that “information officers must seek the truth and think of the responsibility to their fellowmen; one should stand up not only for himself, but for others, for his community, and for his country as a whole.”
The event gathered public information officers (PIOs) from national government agencies (NGAs)-NCR regional offices, as well as PIOs from Metro Manila’s local government units (LGUs) with the aim of re-strengthening their skills in press release writing, media relations, and crisis communication--- skills necessary to be effective communicators of relevant and timely information to the public.
Information officers from Regions 1, 2, 3, and CAR were also present in the activity.
Updates on the government’s initiatives for climate change adaptation and mitigation were also discussed in line with government agencies’ concerted efforts to address the growing concern on climate change, its ill effects, and possible interventions to weaken the threatening repercussions it could bring.
Invited resource speakers are respected names from the country’s top publications and institutions: Dulce Sanchez of the Philippine Star, Joseph Voltaire Contreras of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Sammy Santos of the Public Relations and Information Bureau of the Philippine Senate.
The speakers re-acquainted the participants with the basics in journalism— sometimes overlooked even by veteran writers. These range from the data gathering task of a writer to writing effective leads, sustaining the readers’ interest without losing conciseness in one’s articles, and being always accessible to media for clarification and updates on one’s stories.
The challenge is how to package one’s information in an effective and useful manner, and how to manage possible miscommunication .
Philippine Star metro editor, Ms. Dulce Sanchez, who gave tips on “How to Get One’s Press Releases Published,” emphasized the importance of being always grammatically impeccable as a simple misuse of preposition could change everything, with risks of ruining one’s credibility.
She also warned against the use of long and highly-ornamented press releases; she advised writers to always be on-topic, and to highlight what is relevant and beneficial to the readers.
Philippine Daily Inquirer metro editor Mr. Joseph Voltaire Contreras, who gave a talk on “Re-strengthening Media Relations” underscored the importance of establishing good relations with media partners, as well as with the journalist’s first-hand sources of information which include government heads and their press relations officers.
He also advised information officers to maximamize the use of modern technology such as websites to maximize the exchange of correct information to their media counterparts.
He also emphasized the importance of providing substantial data to support one’s claims in his or her press releases—“something writers forget to do,” according to him.
Mr. Sammy Santos, director for print media , Public Relations and Information Bureau, Philippine Senate discussed “Media and Crisis Communication” put emphasis on “fast, speedy, and responsive” as necessary qualities in crisis communication. He said that in crisis management, one “should be able to anticipate crises from arising, armed with necessary interventions that are commensurate to the issue being resolved.”
From the government side, Ms. Harriet Tauli represented the Climate Change Commission-- lead agency for climate change monitoring in the country. She tackled the agency’s climate change national action plan that provides for a roadmap in the government’s monitoring of its climate change initiatives which are expected to continue until the year 2028.
The Climate Change Forum is among the many projects of PIA-NCR and DENR-NCR that are slated to be undertaken this year as they embark on a massive climate change advocacy campaign in the National Capital Region.
This year’s advocacy for climate change adaptation and mitigation has the theme “Nagbabago na ang Panahon; Panahon na Para Magbago.”
The activity was also in cooperation with the Association of Information Officers in Metro Manila (AIMM) whose members are information officers from 17 LGUs in Metro Manila regional information officers from national government agencies’ regional offices of NCR.
The AIMM was founded in 1997 by PIA-NCR Regional Director Riza J. Baldoria with the objective of uniting Metro Manila’s LGUs and NGAs towards the dissemination and communication of government, programs, projects, and activities in the region.
The AIMM also serves as the mouthpiece of the public and the government through its feedback-mechanism and query-response activities.