NGOs in Kenya get inside track on media communication
Date Posted : Thursday, 24 May 2012
"You are overworked and exhausted. You work for an NGO. The pace is often relentless and the rewards are few and far between. Yet when people in the media ask you what you do, you turn to big words like capacity building, integrated services and sustainable development. The great art in communicating with the media is to make the connection with real people whose lives you influence"
This was the main message from Ernest Waititu, the Director of Health and Digital Journalism at Internews, to a group of NGO representatives who recently attended a strategic communications workshop in Nairobi.
Most of the NGO's who attended were full of praise for the insights into the media offered by the Internews workshop and the journalists and experts who attended the sessions.
"After the training my view of the media changed completely. I met journalists who are passionate about their work and they will help us communicate our position if we communicate clearly with them,” says Dr Athanasius Ochieng, the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Program Director at NASCOP.
"Even before the workshop was over, I got calls from Kericho telling me that I was on air", says Ochieng.
Ochieng also addressed a national voluntary medical male circumcision task force meeting, saying all NGO's should get an opportunity to participate in the training as it broadens understanding of the complex work of NGO's.
Every year Internews trains a few individuals from NGOs on how to engage with the media. But this year it has received overwhelming requests from particular NGOs with specific needs.
Consequently, Internews has increased the number of strategic communication training sessions which revolve around NGO and government officials working on a particular issue. In March Internews trained communication officers from Liverpool VCTs and in April it was the turn of members of the National Taskforce for the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision. May takes Internews trainers to Mombasa to trainee NGos working with people who inject drugs.
The curriculum for the training involves teaching the participants to communicate in simple language and hold a successful media event. .
The training attracted 65 journalists. Within two weeks 25 radio, print, and TV news and features stories about VMMC and HIV had been produced by the journalists.
"It is possible to get the media to cover your event if you package your message well! I have firsthand experience in organizing a successful media event that was well attended. I am now confident," says an excited Dr. Mary Kariuki, a Service Delivery Specialist at APHIA-Nairobi.
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