Metro’s PR staff slammed

Expert effort needed to fight communications war, forum told

MUNICIPAL spin doctors in the Eastern Cape needed to up their game if they were to compete with the public relations warfare being staged by opposition parties, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan said yesterday.

He was addressing a group of local government communicators at their quarterly forum at the Port Elizabeth City Hall.

Jordaan’s chief of staff, Mlungisi Ncame, also said the communications unit in the metro was not in a good space and had not yet established a healthy relationship with media houses.

In the meeting, Jordaan asked the communicators whether they were equipped with the skills and innovative ways of sharing government’s work efficiently in the face of a well-organised PR machine run by the opposition.

“You have the opposition with its own communicators,” Jordaan said. “Sometimes they have better machinery. As local government, are you in that space?”

He said public dialogue had moved to the social media space.

Communicators needed to be at the forefront of this social media conversation, he said.

“In this communication war, do we have the tools to compete?

“What can we do to [attract] people to the municipality?

“I am not happy about where we are. This [gathering] is an important space [to ask] how do we contest?”

Jordaan said the role of communication was an important pillar within local government as the local administration had been “hammered” and there had been a prevalent question: “What are they [local government] doing with money?”

Earlier, Ncame said that in some instances he acted as a spokesman for the mayor because of the deficiencies within the communications department. He said these included lack of integration between administration and political interface.

The municipality had also suspended communications director Roland Williams and he was facing various misconduct allegations.

“Our observation is that communication in the metro is not good,” Ncame said.

“The mayor met with media houses. They all said we seem to lack credibility and therefore, they cannot take us seriously.”

“The other problem is that we do not seem to be complying with expectations of various communicators.”

Eastern Cape director of government and information systems Ndlelantle Pinyana said: “We have serious concerns in the metro.”

“This was an honest reflection [by Ncame].” The meeting continues today. Meanwhile, a separate meeting to address the communications issues of the metro has been scheduled for October 8.

-Siphokuhle Mkancu


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