Praise Nutakor is the Communications and Public Relations Associate at the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA)
Describe your job in one sentence
I am a Communication Specialist with good experience in managing communication needs of various organizations and presently head the Communications and Public Relations Unit of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), whose operational offices
are located in Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Senegal and Zambia.
How did you get into Public Relations/communications; how long have you been in PR?
I have a strong passion for communications right from my youthful ages and longed to be a Journalist since public relations (PR) as a profession was not very well known in Ghana during that time. I developed keen interest for public relations during my first degree at the University of Ghana, where I studied French and Linguistics and immediately pursued this dream by doing a Master’s
degree in communications and media studies, specializing in Public Relations, Advertising and Organizational Communications at the University of Education, right after my national service. My journey in the PR profession began when I was given the opportunity to work as a Senior Communications Officer at Stratcomm Africa, which happens to be one of the leading PR agencies in Ghana. I always look back with gratitude for the opportunity at Stratcomm to serve as a communication consultant for various reputable organizations including Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) of the Stanford University, California; Ghana Electrometer (GEM); and MTN Ghana, where I was
actively involved in the development and implementation of appropriate communication strategies and plans to help improve the visibility and reputation of these organizations. The experiences gained in this role have indeed propelled a great career for me in the communications field for over eight years now.
What is your interest/specialization in PR?
My work experience in diverse areas in the field of communications make me develop interest in various areas of the profession including communication strategy/ plans development; communication materials development and design; media relations and publicity; media monitoring and analysis; events management; stakeholder engagement; and website and social media
management. I may say, what I enjoy mostly in all these areas, is having to conceptualize, develop appropriate messages and produce information, education and communication (IEC) materials to promote best social and behavioural changes.
What is a regular day for you as a PR Person?
My work at UNU-INRA is very challenging but sometimes interesting because the Institute is a UN agency focusing on natural resources management research and policy advice, with an African-wide mandate, and so, it is important to develop and work with appropriate communication strategies to be able to effectively disseminate research findings to relevant stakeholders across the African continent and beyond. Our communication goal is to promote the sustainable management of natural resources in Africa and this requires robust communication tactics towards its achievement. My day usually starts with media monitoring and analysis, starting with the radio on my way to work, to doing a quick scan of headlines in the newspapers and online media in the office. This is to help in getting information on issues or research findings in the areas of our work, to be used in preparing a media brief to inform our internal stakeholders. After the media monitoring and analysis in the morning, I will typically dive into research reports to edit policy briefs and working papers developed on various natural resources management research conducted in different African countries.
After the editorial works and designs on these knowledge products, it is always important to widely disseminate the key findings to various stakeholders through appropriate channels. So, either I am developing media releases or feature articles on key research findings for circulation to local, other African and international media for publication; or I am preparing content for newsletters; or
planning or coordinating events such as seminars or book launches, or involved in organizing workshops, or conferences for training or for other capacity development activities, events which mostly require planning for media coverage for broader dissemination. Similarly, dissemination of policy briefs to policy actors sometimes involve arranging stakeholder engagement sessions with
Governments or diplomatic missions to present the briefs to them, and a stakeholder engagement activity planning or coordination could be a focus of a particular day. Not forgetting developing content for our website and social media accounts, which I particularly love to lead due to the sensitive nature of online media. Indeed, my work never reduces any day but it always takes careful
planning to get things done.
How do you think PR can help change how brands are perceived?
Public Relations is about developing and maintaining good relationships with stakeholders of an organization through constant information sharing on organizational values. Effective PR efforts improve relationships, credibility, visibility and the reputation of organizations. A good reputation protects a brand and impacts an organization’s bottom-line positively.
What kind of challenges did you face in your Public Relations career choice?
It is not easy to manage human relationships and managing both internal and external relationships of an organization can be challenging at times. I always say, as a PR Person, you will have to live your life, always trying to be the nicest person and this is not always easy as we human beings can sometimes be complex.
Another challenge is having to edit and present technical research reports produced by subject matter experts, in appropriate formats, bringing out key and clear messages for easy comprehension by various stakeholders including non-technical experts. This can be very challenging, but building the requisite skills over the years can make this quite interesting.
Are you living your PR dream? If you were not into PR what will have been your next
Being a Communication Practitioner, I may say, is one of the fulfilling areas of my life. I would have been a Journalist, if not in PR as that has been the starting dream. But, Public Relations Practitioners, they say, are Journalists in an organization, so I am happy to be in the same communications field.
As a PR Professional, what can’t you live without……?
I do not think I can live without internet. PR efforts always start with research and end with it, and the internet presents wealth of information to facilitate communication. From strategy development, to communication materials development, and to publicity, the internet help in getting access to very useful information and measuring tools.
And obviously, aside internet, I don’t think I can do without a computer/ laptop, a tablet or a smartphone, as all these facilitate communication with target audience.
Will you mind sharing some tools, apps, books or resources that have helped your PR
I use Pixabay a lot to get sharp copy-right free photos or sometimes Flickr, as good photos best communicate compelling stories. We also use Talkwalker at the Communications & PR Unit for our media monitoring and analyses. The good thing about Talkwalker is that, it helps in monitoring and analyzing social media reports and media reports from print outlets, TV and radio broadcasts globally. So you can always be assured of tracking and measuring all your publicity efforts anywhere, anytime.
Ohh, I love Google Analytics, as it helps in determining how many people visit our website, how long they stay on each page, and which social media sites refer the best quality traffic. Trello is also useful in planning projects, we mostly use it to plan our social media campaigns, especially campaigns with various team in different countries that the UN University works in.
Another useful resource I will recommend is AMEC Integrated Framework. This framework helps in creating a PR strategy, as it allows you to input your organization’s objectives and communication objectives, plan your inputs, map your activities and then evaluate the outcome and impact of your strategy or campaign. Once completed, you can download the final document as a PDF.
I also use Adobe Creative Cloud tools such as Lightroom and Photoshop for image
editing and In-design for layouts. We just acquired Cision, which will help us in circulating our media releases globally and also help with media monitoring and analyses.
Google, I will always say, is a great resource, as so much information abounds on different topics and professions, including PR.
Do you feel pressured to dress well for the job?
Not at all. The communications profession in itself is about good image and reputation. So, you will naturally want to look good. I love to look simply good and smart at all times.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I prefer Twitter, because I find Twitter to be easy to adapt and use. Though, hashtags can now be used on other social media platforms like Facebook, I think Twitter makes your content go more viral, especially with the hashtags and it is also easier for me to measure. What I also find very useful with Twitter is that, it allows you to tailor your communications to your target audience by focusing on key messages because of the 140 character limit. This in itself prevents information overloads and makes it easy for people to read your messages, as they are brief.
Any advice to young ladies especially African women who may want to pursue a career in PR or any communications related profession?
Yes. The communications field requires broad knowledge in different disciplines. So, young ladies aspiring to enter into the profession have to be broad-minded and get interested in understanding issues happening in various areas. This is because, you will be required to communicate on issues in different areas at any point in time as a Communications Practitioner, being it in health,
telecommunications, energy, climate change and so on. Therefore, there is the need to cultivate the habit of searching for knowledge, asking questions for better understanding into issues and develop the passions for helping people as communications entails dealing with people to achieve a desired result.
Praise Nutakor can be contacted on the following social media pages via:
LinkedIn: @Praise Nutakor
Facebook: @Praise Nutakor
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