From Megaphones to Headphones: Prof. Jim Macnamara
Communication expert, Prof. Jim Macnamara shared insights on new technologies for communication with PR Practitioners, staff and students at the University on Tuesday November 12, 2019.
Prof, Macnamara started by demystifying the practices that have long worked for the communication managers in the market place. He underscored, “Communication is two-way; communication is creation of a community and not transmission of information. Communicators do not only have to be megaphones for their organizations, amplifying the message of the company to the clients, but that they should also be the headphones, listening to what the stakeholders are saying to the company.”
The Lecturer at Sydney University of Technology took the audience through research output that shows 80-95% of communicative resources are developed to disseminating messages whereas only 5-15% of communicative resources are focused on listening to stakeholders.
He emphasized that when listening is done, it is primarily instrumental.
When the stakeholders feel the company is not listening to them, there is collapse of trust, in extreme cases, people die, decline in stakeholder satisfaction and loyalty, disengagement, opposition and dissent and rise of alternatives.
Prof. Macnamara gave the benefits of listening as: company will get insights to inform adaptive and emergent strategy, understanding empathy or design thinking, the organization will learn, true engagement, gain trust, healthy relationship, feedback on policies, products, services etc.
He urged communicators to take up leadership and advise the public and the organization management that communication is a two-way process. He underscored the importance of advising/ counseling management using evidence. This evidence should be gathered using all the technological tools available. Prof. Macnamara highlighted tools such as social and market research, stakeholder engagement, social media monitoring and analysis, text analysis of open end comments, voice to text, data analytics, behavioural insights and natural language processing.
He concluded by challenging the communicators to look beyond stakeholders and publics as ‘targets’ and ‘audience’.
Kentice Tikolo, FPRSK Managing Director, Impact Africa moderated the panel discussion where UoN’s School of Journalism lecturer, Anne Gichuhi, Dean School of Information Rongo University, Dr. John Oluoch, and CIPR Member Chris, took turns to react to the lecture by Prof. Jim Macnamara. Artificial Intelligence, ethics and transparency in today’s communication were highlighted and discussed at length.